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What’s your exit strategy?
The difference between a job and a business – shown by NASA
What do you call something that’s collected 635 GB of data, traveled 4.9 billion miles and taken over 450,000 pictures in the span of 20 years? Productive? Dedicated? Impressive? What about all three? These are just some accomplishments of NASA’s Cassini, an orbiter sent into space in 1997.
After a 7-year journey through space, Cassini went into orbit around Saturn and stayed there for 13 years. It explored Saturn’s rings and atmosphere, and the information it sent to NASA broadened our understanding of what kind of life might exist on worlds beyond Earth. A 20-year job is no joke, especially in today’s economy.
Because Cassini had a job, instead of coming back to Earth for retirement, it ended 20 years of service being crushed and vaporized as it crashed into Saturn on September 15, 2017. This is how Cassini shows the real difference between having a job and having a business. You can’t leave a job behind, but you can leave a business – if you have an exit strategy.
What is an exit strategy?
An exit strategy is a plan to remove yourself from your business when it has reached the goals you set for it – whether that’s a certain amount of growth or simply being sold.
Who should have an exit strategy?
In short, everyone.
But if you don’t have an exit strategy just yet, you’re not alone. Many business owners build their companies from the ground up – and then stop. They set out to create a product or offer a service, but don’t think ahead any further than that. Why would they? Running a business is tiring work.
Like Cassini, they simply keep going and going, only to find that when they want to turn around and go back to Earth – or recoup their investment and put it toward what they want to do – they have no ability to do so. Their business might provide them income, but they can hardly walk away from it.
Sounds like a job, doesn’t it?
Think about why you started your company in the first place. Was it so you could sit behind a desk all day issuing orders and signing contracts? Probably not; you likely envisioned how having financial freedom could make your life better. If you didn’t have to worry about money, you could travel more. You could spend more time with your family. You could pursue the interests that fulfill your soul, perhaps by giving back or learning new skills.
How do I create an exit strategy?
At first, an exit strategy may sound counterintuitive to those just starting out. You’re pouring all you have into this new venture; making plans to exit it – seemingly abandoning it – seems like a terrible mindset for a new business owner to take.
On the contrary: While an exit strategy isn’t like mapping out a plan for your company, it’s a critical component to your success. Do you want to eventually sell your business and use the money to fulfill your dreams? Then you need to create something you can sell. That means knowing from the start that you want to sell it and knowing what a potential buyer would look for.
No one wants to purchase a small, unprofitable business. Your potential buyer wants to see a thriving company, one that has returned your investment and continues to expand. If selling your company is indeed your ultimate goal, then you will set goals and make choices that will lead to the growth of your business, rather than stagnation.
Do you have an exit strategy for your business? Or will you crash and burn like Cassini? Watch the video from Tony Robbins below on how to tell the difference between a job and a business, and what life without an exit strategy looks like.
Cassini header image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech
You might not have the money or technology that NASA has, but you can start making gigantic strides in your professional life. Discover how to create and run your dream business at Business Mastery. At the incredible five-day event, you’ll learn what it really takes to run a successful business, no matter your industry, and listen to some of the world’s leading business professionals, including Tony Robbins.