In 2015 I sold my company in a successful exit. The process taught me a lot about myself and life in general. Looking back, I can now reflect on the process.
I had built a great company, not by myself by any means. I had a great team and business partner. Together, in under five years, we built a company that went from a basement startup to a multi-million-dollar company with over 16,000 customers. It was hard work, long days, sleepless nights, ups and downs but looking back it was one of the most exciting times of my life. I’ve come to realize I live for building companies, I can’t pinpoint what it is about it I enjoy so much, but I feel most alive when I’m in the thick of a startup. Don’t get me wrong, it’s full of stress and at moments I just flat out want to give up, but in the end its worth it.
Here’s what I learned from selling my company;
- Burnout is real – Believe it or not, no matter how much you enjoy something or how much money is tied to it, if you’re doing the same thing day in and day out you will get burnt. The number #1 reason we sold this company is my partner and I were just flat out burnt out. I didn’t have the drive or enthusiasm for the business that I once had. Getting myself into the office everyday was a chore. The company was growing, in fact we were doing better than we ever had but I just couldn’t get my excitement back. I remember reading an article by Jason Lemkin about burnout right around when we decided to sell. He really hit the nail on the head, year five burnout seems to set in hard.
- Time off is over-rated – Growing up I’ve always had a job or been in school, I never had the luxury of being able to take a semester abroad or take a summer off to do nothing. I wanted this, the idea of sipping margaritas on the beach for the rest of my life seemed amazing. The reality, after selling my company I took a few months off and got bored out of my mind. I tried picking up all kinds of hobbies, but at the end of the day I didn’t feel challenged. I’ve always related running a business to playing a video game, it’s just a real-life video game with milestones, challenges, goals and rewards. I guess after taking time off I realized I need that game in my life. If you’re working with the goal of doing nothing in mind, you might have a harsh reality ahead of you.
- Life is about purpose – A lot of people think that the goal of starting your own company is to make a bunch of money. I’ve come to realize, that’s not the case. Money is nice and it certainly can make life easier, but it can also make it much more difficult. Money comes and goes, as a business owner and entrepreneur you can’t be too attached to money. Money can’t buy you purpose or passion, money can’t buy you something to wake up excited about. Having purpose is what puts that fire in your life. I’d take having something I’m passionate about over money any day.
At the end of the day am I glad I sold my company? At the time, it was the right decision for me, I didn’t have the passion or purpose to continue with my company. I do miss it though, I miss the people and friends I had there. I miss the challenge and the problem solving, the growing of something that was bigger than myself. I learned a lot about myself in the process and life is all about experiences, so it’s time for something new.
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