How to quit a startup you founded

For certain Founders, their “work” at their startup is not something they wish to continue.

There may be a variety of reasons at work, such as “I can no longer continue to do this” or “I’m more serious about something else.”

Whatever the case may be, it is possible to leave our own startup. There are a few novel approaches that we should use.

Persuasive Reasons to Leave The Startup and Start Again

When things aren’t going well in an early-stage startup, others believe entrepreneurs can press on and sink with their ship in the spirit of perseverance. The other choice is to resign, however, we always associate leaving with defeat.

Unfortunately, as an entrepreneur, you would have a tough time rising to the top if you dive too deep. If you do not drive yourself far enough, you would always think “what if I work a little harder?”

quit a startup you founded
quit a startup you founded
  1. Ultimately, the founders make the call

Keeping in mind that ‘failure’ may be an extremely useful turning point in life and a learning tool on the path to creating the next profitable plan, here are few indications that you can try wiping the slate clean rather than drowning.

2. The Team Is Awful

Oftentimes, when bootstrapping and getting off, we overlook the talent (or lack thereof) that surrounds us. At first glance, inviting almost everyone appears innocuous, but things may easily turn sour.

Whether you hate interacting with your colleagues or are perpetually irritated, hold a chat with them and ascertain the source of the friction. If the situation continues to deteriorate, it might be time for a new squad.

Personally, this was the case for my most recent startup, where I purposefully avoiding answering the phone when my co-founder called. This results in depression and a significant lack of efficiency.

Eventually, we had to switch ways. It was one of the wisest choices we might have made, as well as a tremendous relief.

Lesson Learned: Just hire young, qualified, and trustworthy individuals to create a startup. Since this is essentially a friendship, everybody can get along. Avoid making a concession here.

3. We Are Afraid of Waking Up

Every day, we wake up and pull ourselves from our beds. We arrive 30 minutes late for our daily meeting with the team, and the first 15 minutes are spent ignoring them. We’re not excited enough to begin and unmotivated to complete the to-do list.

This has been going on for quite some time. Although this may be linked to explanation #1, there are also other possible explanations for feeling this way. At this stage, a gut check is essential.

To begin, determine the source of this. Sometimes, we experience these emotions without being mindful of them and just accept them as usual. Attempt to seize and tackle it.

Whether it doesn’t fit or you’re stumped as to what it is, hold several discussions with someone you know – this will actually help us be introspective and think differently about issues.

Finally, if things seem to go wrong, think if there is no longer any enthusiasm or inspiration for the idea.

This is particularly troublesome if you are a co-founder or a senior member of staff. As a chief, we are supposed to develop a vision for the future and approach our work with energy and excitement. If we are unable to do that, we cannot really trust our workers to do so because this is the first move in the wrong direction.

Lesson Learned: Remain in balance by addressing a loss of enthusiasm and excitement early on until it has a detrimental impact on our job, team, and morale.

4. We Are Unable to Make a Full Commitment

Numerous projects begin as a side project on the side of someone’s desk. This is an excellent opportunity to test the waters and gain validation without taking a huge gamble, but it would ultimately hurt the startup and could result in its collapse.

Although there is no ideal formula or precise solution to this, all founders believe that if you want to be competitive in your startup, you must take a leap of confidence with both feet. We are substantially more inspired while our livelihoods and egos are on the table.

If the team has been collaborating on the venture for an extended period of time, but no one has made the leap, it is a reasonable time to assess if this is a genuinely shared vision.

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What Do You Do Before Quitting Your Startup and How Do You Proceed?

How to quit a startup you founded
How to quit a startup you founded

If I leave, who will operate this thing?

Depending on the nature of the organization, there could be a significant number of individuals involved in our positions.

For instance, if we work for a ten-person corporation that is doing well (but not great), our CEO position may be completely obsolete, but anyone else in the business may see it as an awesome opportunity to be the CEO for a day.

The same possibility might present itself from the outside world, where anyone else with new legs will leap at the chance to be CEO. Bear in mind because most candidates do not get CEO positions on a regular basis, which makes this an amazing opportunity.

I am also in search of funds. What occurs there?

If we leave, we would do it with the hope of finding another source of revenue, which is often in a form of another career. Whether we buy the whole business and there are sufficient funds to buy out the CEO’s position, but this is frequently not the case.

We must remain realistic in recognizing that if we cannot contribute to the business in the future, the company would most likely be unable to compensate us. In any scenario, the payoff would be based on the worth of our equity.

Is there someone that can save me from quitting?

Not at all.

Although certain investors may be outraged, no one will stop us from going out the door.

We might have clauses in our contracts resulting in any monetary loss (such as unvested stock), but we are, like anyone else, an at-will employee.

If the time has come to give ourselves a kick good bye, we will always do so. We simply need to see our job as an employment decision in which one individual is let go, and another is hired back in.

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Questions to Ask Before Terminating The Startup

Sports Illustrated wrote an article titled “Bag It, Michael” on March 14, 1994, about how basketball player Michael Jordan could retire from baseball after just 11 months.

Are you curious as to what Jordan asked himself before retiring from basketball? Is it possible that he gave up so soon? Would he have been an All-Star if he had persisted? We will never know for certain.

Before quitting a startup you own, the most common question you might ask is, How do you decide when to quit? To be honest, it’s all situational.

As this is a critical moment of your life, here are six others you can consider before quitting:

  1. Is your company the kind that you intended to create?

When you first started, were you aiming to develop a high-growth business, a lifestyle business, or anything in between? And if your goal is to develop a high-growth enterprise – and it’s fairly obvious that your plan isn’t going to be one – you will want to abandon it in favor of another. This strategy is reflected in the Silicon Valley adage, “Fail fast, fail often.”

2. Are you financially able to continue?

After five years of surviving on a really poor salary, cashing in your 401(k), and subsisting on scraps, when can you decide to quit and find work? This is frequently the most critical topic of all. The optimal response can vary according to your personal circumstances.

For instance, if you are self-sufficient, you can work on your startup for years while working nights in restaurants and making only enough money to get by. There is no harm, no foul. This is one of the reasons I inspire young people to start companies – they have the financial means to do so.

However, if you’re supporting a spouse, all bets are off. Only you are capable of answering this perplexing question.

3. Is it possible for the product to become a viable business?

While certain product concepts are sound, so few consumers are willing to pay for them. Other ideas may attract many buyers, but they will not pay sufficiently to cover the costs of manufacturing and servicing the commodity.

Within a few years, you should be able to determine if your company is profitable or not.

4. Have you really given your startup a chance?

So many entrepreneurs join their companies with the mindset of “I’ll give it 18 months, and if income hasn’t begun to multiply or I’m not making the paycheck I want, I’ll cut my loses and leave.”

Although taking measured risks is appropriate, my experience indicates that it often takes at least three years for sales to take off, so quitting too soon can imply missing out on amazing things.

5. Is the stress of “surviving” the blade years worth the possibility of success?

The blade years are where the majority of entrepreneurs abandon their businesses. They have to pay clients, just not quite enough to cover the costs of operating the company and paying themselves a sufficient wage, let alone invest in expanding the business.

They allow a few tweaks – or even pivots – but such adjustments have still failed to perform well. They attempt to collect money but are unsuccessful.

As a result, they left their company after three to five years. I’m not suggesting that leaving during the blade years is often a poor thing; it all depends on your capacity for danger and tension, as well as your belief in your ability to create a business around your idea.

However, no startup is worth jeopardizing your long-term wellbeing and satisfaction.

6. Do you have a more obstinate attitude or a more conservative and rational one?

As you’re probably aware, I’ve heard several stories about the determined entrepreneur who refused to give up and ultimately achieved remarkable success. This is a plausible account. If you’re stubborn and have an innate ability to “work things out,” then go for it!

However, if your attitude is more tolerant of things as they are, and you are not the one to fight against the odds, then follow your instincts and pursue something else.

I wish I had a magic recipe for determining when to leave – but I don’t. I’m going to leave you with just questions.

However, I suspect that many entrepreneurs who leave their startups do so prematurely. And, for the record, I would not have ruled out Michael Jordan continuing his baseball career if he had spent a couple more years.

Questions to Ask Before Terminating The Startup
Questions to Ask Before Terminating The Startup

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Steps to Finding The Next Opportunity After a Startup

  1. Consider the advantages and motivators.

Some pioneers are natural kings, others are excellent administrators, and even others are content to be doers. Almost every startup is established by several entrepreneurs who each have a unique set of skills.

Consider yourself critically to determine the right fit. When you no longer run a business, it’s time to move on.

2. Develop work and life goals; consider alternative routes.

If your long-term objective is to maintain a healthy combination between a company and personal activities, the serial entrepreneur lifestyle is certainly not for you.

You may wish to continue with your first business as a profitable venture or to leave to pursue a traditional business role.

3. Conduct an evaluation to ensure that the results are reasonable.

The majority of entrepreneurs I know tell themselves that they will expand and sell their startup in a few years and then move on to their next venture.

Many fail for another five or ten years before achieving “overnight” prosperity or a liquidity case. Maybe this is the chance to cash out.

4. Rather than being squeezed out, exit at your height.

It’s still prudent to go forward and leave a legacy of operational quality. Nobody wants a record of overstaying their welcome or waging a life-or-death fight with furious voters.

Don’t wait for a situation to make you think — be constructive in discussing options with advisers and mentors.

5. Look for ways to expand your knowledge and expertise.

If you’re not too secure with your new startup, it’s definitely time to exit. The most successful entrepreneurs value the trip over the goal.

They work optimally as they are actively learning, taking different chances, and responding to business changes.

6. Increase the number of corporate partnerships you have.

It’s possible to feel alienated during the early stages of a company and lose focus on exit strategies and new prospects.

Smart founders broaden their network to involve executives from big companies in their domain, either to see whether they belong or to persuade others that it’s time to move forward.

7. Arrange for a staged departure and follow-up.

If you initiate the transformation and what follows, you are more likely to enjoy it than if you wait for it to happen to you.

The good things in life sometimes take time, and it’s more enjoyable to live incrementally and prepare for the future. Recovery mode is not enjoyable, as is bouncing from disaster to crisis.

We can also think of a few successful founders who never exited, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. However, I agree that these are the cases, not the rule.

Numerous others, such as Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Steve Jobs, are well-known for their contributions to multiple companies. While not all of these exits were favorable, they all recovered well.

Any executive recruiter would inform you that the optimal time to search for a new role is while you are enjoying your current one but are aware that it will not last. They are correct; the time has come to begin taking the measures described here. No endeavor would succeed if you wait an excessive amount of time.

right way quit a startup you founded
right way quit a startup you founded

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Finally Thoughts

There are several other explanations why we may choose to leave our startup but bear in mind that each person must make their own determination on what is right. The critical point is to be self-aware about our true feelings towards our projects and the people we interact with. If we’re going to leave our precious startup, we need to consider why we’re doing that and apply those lessons to our next plan.