Saturday 6 March 2010

Exiting your business: the good news

You got to be a business leader by turning obstacles into opportunities, and exiting your business is another challenge you will succeed at. You might find the process takes you to new levels of emotional maturity. I'm sure you will find it harrowing and exhilarating at the same time.

Create value, create a legacy

We've already said, your business loses value when it loses you. The cool thing is that you are standing at the brink of a huge profit opportunity. When you really put new leaders in place who can run the business without you, you reverse the value destruction otherwise caused by your departure. Your smart and decisive action now can change your exit payoff from a small honorarium to a major chunk of capital.

Not only does a clean exit generate capital value at a much faster rate than anything you did since the early startup days, but it shifts your legacy to another level. This is the time that you face hard truths about the limits of your control. And in seeing those limits clearly, you get to do the real legacy creation - setting free a vibrant, living organism that will grow and change once it is out of your direct daily control.

Become a human being more than a human doing

For so long it seems like forever, you have been the life force that energises your business. You inspire action and most likely lead a lot more hands-on action than you will easily admit to. Your identity could be as a human doing. The amazing thing is that for you to solve some of the key problems about exiting your business, what is most deeply required of you is to just be - a human being rather than doing. So you create space for your team to actually lead.

Let them feel the thud as the true responsibility of leading a business or a business unit lands in their lap. And give yourself time and space to focus on the bigger picture.

Your gut knows.

Deep inside you is a place that can recognise the people you need and the way forward for you. Many entrepreneurs I have worked with are naturally in touch with their gut feel on customers, products, business opportunities but strangely blocked on the crucial insights that will liberate themselves and their businesses in a good exit strategy.

When it is time to exit your business, you can put your gut and your mind into the right place to attract and recognise, resonate with the people who can take your business to the next level. Then you can make the space to find your own new place in the world, separate from the daily work of your business but totally connected with all you have learned and the emotional, spiritual and material wealth you have created.

Previously: The bad news about exiting your business

Monday 1 March 2010

Exiting your business: the bad news

You've put your heart and soul into growing, building and fighting for this business for years now. Yet you realise it is time to go - soon.

How separate are you and your business - really? If your business is a part of you, an expression of who you are in the world, almost like your flesh and blood offspring, then you are probably wondering how to let it stand on its own feet and give you back your freedom.

For years, your life has been on the line for your business. Now it is time to give space to other aspects of your life, and put some distance between you and your business. Maybe you've reached burnout stage or maybe you just know it is time to move on.

Ready to go? I've got good news and bad news for you. The bad news first:

Your business is worth less than you think, without you

You probably underestimate your own worth. And if you are going, then you are going. You can embody your value in the other people, systems and intellectual property you leave behind, but you probably underestimate the size of this task.

Your team aren't quite as good as you thought

Entrepreneurs are a notoriously optimistic bunch. You have to be, just to even contemplate starting a business! Unfortunately this also goes for most exiting entrepreneurs' assessment of their teams. I've met too many owner managers who are shocked and hurt that their top teams don't jump at the opportunity to buy them out.

Strong leaders attract followers

You are so impressed at what your team can do - but be honest, how much of this is carrying out your vision? A common pattern for entrepreneurs is only to realise how far out in front you are compared to your managers, when you want to leave. Suddenly a yawning chasm becomes visible where you thought you were building a vibrant team to take over from you.

Next: The good news about exiting your business

Sunday 14 February 2010

Music that connects us

"Whenever there is great art, there is a piece of heaven" - Surendra Shrestra, tabla player from Nepal

For the past four years a small film crew has been traveling the world with recording equipment and cameras in search of inspiration.

The film below is an example of their output - more than 35 musicians from at least four continents harmonising in an inspiring virtual global band, epitomising the connection of diverse and disparate humanity through music.

South Africans featured include Vusi Mahlasela from Mamelodi, Sinamuva and Bhekani Memela choirs from Umlazi, and Pokei Klaas from Gugulethu on upright bass.

Want to hear more? Visit to order the CD+DVD set with ten tracks, and learn more about their upcoming movie.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Eldership: Not just a scrapheap

Facing up to getting old often brings feelings of shrinking, ending, being over the hill. Finding energy flagging, body sagging, milestones behind rather than in front leaves the go-go-go energy in us freaking out.

In many cultures, being “old” is enough to have you literally or metaphorically slung on the scrap heap.
Yet there is no substitute for experience.

Ability to see the big picture of life requires us to have lived for many decades. Appreciating that I am a human being rather than insisting on doing for my identity takes time to sink in. And there is a new power available to us just when our youthful strength starts to fade: elders can get results by influence rather than by control. Specially for men accustomed to positions of overt leadership in the world, discovering the wisdom of eldership offers a whole new lease on life as a generous contributor who uses subtlety to shape teams and events rather than control them.

Being closer to the grave than the cradle brings new perspectives and new possibilities. To name a few:
  • Experience the joy of sharing wisdom and experience, knowing there is no need to get anything in return
  • Enjoy sex without concern about pregnancy
  • The self confidence that comes from knowng you're never going to be perfect and that you are quite OK just as you are
  • Free time that comes when active parenting is complete

I challenge you to create your positive vision for eldership

And if you are still stuck on the negatives of gettng closer to the grave than the cradle, I suggest reading Robert A Johnson's book, Living Your Unlived Life – Coping with unrealised dreams and fulfilling your purpose in the second half of life. I find his insights and recommended activities enormously helpful in my own bumpy road to elderhood.

If you happen to live in Australia, check out The Eldership Project programme Finding Your Wisdom or otherwise watch Allan Rudner on Elderhood.