On April 18, 1999, Wayne Gretzky, who is widely considered the greatest hockey player of all time, played his last NHL game. The atmosphere at Madison Square Garden was emotionally charged as everyone in the stadium knew they were seeing Gretzky play for the final time.
For an athlete, it’s usually clear when their time has come to an end. Unfortunately, for a business owner, it’s not so simple.
It can be emotionally difficult to let go of something you have put so much time and effort into. Additionally, entrepreneurship may be a defining part of your identity, and stepping away may leave you searching for a new sense of purpose.
3 Ways to Identify if It’s Time to Step Away
- It’s no longer fun.
As I have learned from speaking to over 500 entrepreneurs and producing over 30 Built to Sell Radio episodes, many entrepreneurs love reminiscing about the early days but lack the same enthusiasm when discussing the current state of their business.
There is a vast difference between running a start-up versus running an established business. As a start-up founder, every new sale is exhilarating. You’re involved in every aspect of your business, and watching it grow can be rewarding. Once you have an established business, things change. Your involvement diminishes as your team grows, and the energy you once had for your business can decrease as a result.
2. You’re playing defense.
During the early stages of your business, your appetite for risk was likely infinite because you had nothing to lose. Therefore, you were likely your company’s growth engine. However, now that your company is more mature, it may be worth asking yourself if you have become a yoke.
It is natural to want to protect what you have built, especially when a significant portion of your net worth is tied to your business. However, being too risk averse and making decisions from a defensive stance can prevent you from pursuing growth opportunities and lead to stagnation.
3. You’ve re-evaluated what’s important to you.
As you get older, it is only natural for your interests to change, especially for founders. Whether good or bad, life experiences guide your interests, hobbies, and passions.
As Tony Robbins states, “Energy flows where attention goes.” Business growth is fueled by creativity, and without it, your business can quickly become stagnant.
Stepping away from your company is a big decision that requires careful consideration. By taking the time to reflect on these three factors, you can make an informed decision about whether it’s time for you to step away.