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Ten years ago, after selling my startup to the Fox International Channels, a division of NewsCorp (NWS), I wrote my first book, Entrepreneurial Learning (‘Aprender a Emprender‘). It took four years to write, illustrate, and publish, in part because I wanted every page and every example to be evergreen, larger and more timeless than a blip in the business cycle. And while tech jargon has metastasised in the years since its publication — MVP, pivot, lean startup, canvas, product lead growth, crowdfunding, blitz scaling, impact investment, and anti-fragile had yet to be coined — the book’s fundamentals are current and true.

One such idea is that companies face similar problems at the similar stages of development. Separating common speedbumps from the specific helps founders to deal with the stress of growing their startup. In much the same way, identifying critical problems becomes as clear as they are existential.

Often, a problem that is quite normal at an early stage can point to something more serious if it persists beyond a certain point. A baby that wets the bed has little to worry about; if a child of seven does the same, it might be a sign of something more serious. To the point, an MVP should learn from a service outage; a mid-stage company should never have one. If it does, that probably points to something more broken than the code.

The Stages Model

The book proposes a model of stages, similar to the life cycle, one in which all companies go from idea to growth to the sale — or to the death — of the company.  

Each specific stage represents both the evolution of a company and its founders. The book looks to the professional and the personal.

There is no specific length to a stage; however, our observation of 2,000+ startups is that the order does not vary, nor are any steps skipped. 

This is a model. It is a simplification of a complex reality and serves as an analytical tool, establishing a shared language amongst founders and a series of checks and reviews. Life, however, does not follow patterns precisely. The theory sketches an ideal, the value of the method hopefully lying in its help identifying common and unique problems.

The ‘common’ problem is typical of a company’s precise maturity. Its presence is a sign of being on the right path. (Its resolution is still crucial.) 

Unique problems are those that linger from prior stages and now, instead of appearing as part of the organization’s development, they distract and make it difficult to solve other problems. 

This can be seen when, for example, an early-stage startup’s infrastructure cannot support a large number of customers. This must be developed in later stages. 

Finally, some abnormal problems have been distinguished as pathologies since they involve not only a delay but possibly a problem that seems to have become a fatal flaw in the company itself.

1 — Commitment

The beginning for all entrepreneurs. A company does not exist beyond an idea, a set of dreams and possibilities in the founder’s head. Over time, those ideas will become the foundation of the company. 

Commitment is the key to this stage. The entrepreneur commits to her idea. She commits to the problem she wants to solve. She commits to her co-founder with whom she has to put shape to this idea. Their families must commit to the challenges of this journey together. And they must win the commitments of potential investors, advisors, lawyers, employees, and even friends and relatives.

Great introspection is needed before the entrepreneur can begin her adventure. Questions must be asked and this process should be extended to all those who are going to accompany the entrepreneur because her family will be asked to share in the sacrifices.

To be successful, the entrepreneur must not only detect a problem and find a solution, she has to address something that matters to her. Broadly, entrepreneurs who manage to scale companies have a personal relationship with the problem they are trying to solve. This personal motivation is crucial to giving a startup the energy and strength necessary to face the challenges that come down the road. At this stage, it is vital to understand if there is a Founder-Market fit.

The most critical decision a founder must make here is choosing her co-founder. Partners are crucial. They are a support during tough times. Founders complement each other’s skills. Finding the right partner is essential and is the first step towards making an idea a reality. 

Once the founding team is consolidated, the commitment between the two can be extended to potential investors. For their part, investors must trust entrepreneurs and their vision. 

It is expected that at this stage, the founders use all the free time they have to sketch out their plan to conquer the world while juggling other responsibilities or jobs. Still, a great passion has to be cultivated.

Additionally, another critical factor will be all the talent an entrepreneur can bring to create this ‘stone soup’.

This talent includes the first investors and experts in the field. Both groups can validate the opportunities, offer a different point of view, and share their experiences, fears, and certainties. Founders need as much help seeing blind spots as they can get. 

The commitment solidifies as more research is carried out and doubts fade. Talented people like to work with other talented people. An environment of confidence and conviction grows.

Fear is natural. Enthusiasm must be stronger than fear.

The first goal in this stage should be to build enthusiasm and a commitment to the founder’s dreams. The higher the risk, the stronger the commitment must be.

Doubts are myriad. The founder wonders what she is going to do, how she will achieve it, who is going to buy her product or use her service. 

Seeing many of these challenges in advance is essential. The founder has to take a significant leap. It cannot be undertaken simply by trying to see what happens. 

This preparation is as emotional as it is intellectual; there is much more about the business that you do not know than what you do. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, she doesn’t even know what she does not know.

In general, when a business idea is presented most think it will not work — and it is very likely that they are right. It is not necessary that everyone believes that the business is viable. What matters is that the founder does and is singularly committed to making the company a success.

There is great trust between founders, in part because there is no way to have perfect information when bootstrapping. Without trust, you cannot move forward. Without it, you can’t take the leap from (supposedly) secure work into a new and unknown world with its own risks and rewards.

The key elements are conviction and commitment. During this period, companies see certain dangers and threats generally linked to the lack of any of the aforementioned components.

There is no one measure for the level of dedication that a startup demands, but a founder has to be both effective and efficient and be willing to offer the project the hours that are necessary.

Some danger signs are:

A founder does not leave his job to dedicate herself entirely to the project. She is trying to avoid the risk of failure.

Over-enthusiasm can also be dangerous, especially that which is packaged with a lack of clarity or details about the business. The lack of healthy fear is cause for concern.

Other problems are the constant doubts and insecurities and the lack of clarity in the goals. An exclusive focus on making money can be fatal, especially as time passes and a founder discovers she is not getting rich at the rate he hoped.

In the worst cases, projects generate as much initial attraction as they will spin off in disappointment down the road. Dreams should not cover reality.

Taking risks, for example, accepting external capital from friends or family, selling the car, or taking out a loan to found the company is what separates this stage from the next one — action. It is the moment when there is no turning back, when the adventure really begins. Adventures are always a source of joys and sorrows, defeats and triumphs in which we are not entirely in control. The experience, however, can be wonderful. 

When a founder takes risks, he compromises his future.

When she commits herself, she sets in motion a cascading series of events that, little by little, will bring more and more possibilities. Thus, more and more expectations are generated.

Ideas by themselves are worthless. What is worth millions is the implementation of those ideas.

The role of the founder as evangelist is critical. It maximizes her ability to communicate and transmit the vision.

When you set sail with a boat, you have to get so far from the coast that you stop seeing it before seeing the next shore. There is no way you can cross the ocean keeping your eyes on where you once knew land.

2 — Action

Movement is demonstrated by walking. The second stage begins when the founders quit their stable job, move to a relationship of economic independence, and assume the company’s financial risks. 

We leave behind the simple universe of ideas and good intentions. We come to one of action and reality.

This is the stage of applying Lean startup, cobbling together the Minimum Viable Product, going to the market as a way of questioning the status quo, and having the genuine feedback that leads us to validate the market need and the holy grail of this stage, which is the product-market-fit.

The first MVP ​​validates a need in the market, the business model, and the initial metrics. At this stage, things (obviously) do not scale, but the most important thing for a founder is to test her ideas in the real world.

The company has two great demands: the attention of its founders and capital.  

Actions have a clear opportunity orientation; the most important thing is to prove that customers value the company’s solution so much that they are willing to pay for it. After that, you must produce results, sales, and cash. At the outset, however, it is reasonable to assume that a company spends more than it takes in.

Cash is essential. Most early stage firms survive on external funding (investors and banks) rather than internally generated sales. 

A common problem to consider is when, in the pursuit of cash, too many jobs are taken that don’t drive or grow the main business. These jobs can be thought of as necessary distractions.

The danger is that if the validation of a new product in the market is neglected, the company may end up in a situation of “bread for today, hunger for tomorrow.” Of course, sales are significant, but the real value for an organization is in the validation of your new product or service in the market.

Something very different can also happen: that the distraction taken to get out of the way becomes the company’s main business.  

At the opposite extreme, the lack of sales to critical accounts is one of the most severe problems that a company can encounter. Without benchmark sales, investors will lose interest in the project, and founders will lose the confidence to continue working even before the company runs out of money.

In general, the company’s performance is uneven, it lacks experience, and the organization lacks the systems that will allow it, in later stages, to manage its needs and problems or even avoid them.

Going from one crisis to another is standard. Many of these moments of tension appear almost without warning.  

It often happens that employees are attracted to startups for reasons beyond money. This leads to a much higher level of loyalty than could be expected; consequently, the effort required is more significant.

There is nothing wrong with this level of commitment, but it is essential to note that both the founder and the employees tend to put the limits of their physical capabilities at stake. This can lead to high levels of stress that are even more difficult to handle when putting out fires. The merit of predisposition should not be confused with the problem that the situation entails.

The growing company hires the people it can, and not those who would like working there, since the most professional or those with the most experience perceive a startup as very risky.

You end up working seven days a week and sleeping under desks — and even still, never having enough time for everything that needs doing.

Another point of great importance stems from the fact that it is often challenging for founders to delegate tasks. Not only because of a lack of training but also because the founder is still unclear about what to do in each case. This leads to the feeling that it has to be in “all.”

This reality is even more true for tasks that are considered critical. As a consequence of this inability, the founders take on a tremendous amount of work, even in functions for which they are not crucial.

If trust and capacity exist, a deficiency in information systems leads to the need for personal control.

One of the significant challenges of this stage is turning tasks into routines that can be delegated. Otherwise, the company will not overcome the dependence it has on its founders. If the founder falls ill, suffers an accident, or dies, the company dies with him.

One of the most common critical problems in this period is the repetition of mistakes. Another possibility is low tolerance for error. Do not forget that this is still a learning stage.

The establishment of rules, policies and systems is too rigid to apply at this stage. 

There is an inability to attract the necessary talent which is matched by a general lack of support from partners and family. 

The lack of contact with the reality of the company’s leaders is one of the main dangers of the stage. Action is, once again, the leap from the ideal into the real world.

False positives, a more common problem than is believed of this stage, are these false positives. The demand in the stage of MVP seems so attractive that entrepreneurs only see an inexhaustible market potential when finding the first early adopters and believing that It is easily scalable to the entire market. They accelerate completely, running out of resources to cross the abyss Geoffrey Moore describes in Crossing the chasm—prematurely drowning the company.

Alternatively, using the lean startup methodology, the founders can pivot and adapt the product to the demands of the Early majority, but this implies a costly process. If there are not enough resources and investor conviction, the company does not pass this stage. This is what many call the valley of death.

Another typical mistake but survivable if caught in time, is to focus too much on early adopters and ignore the mainstream. A product must adapt to serve the latter. It is critical at this stage to identify that ideal customer and to describe him in detail rather than assuming everyone is a willing buyer.

3 — Drive

Once the company finds its product/market fit, they need to make it a reality. The feeling in the founders is of complete satisfaction, and the company’s risk is significantly reduced.

Customers are excited about the product and ask for more. Even investors seem optimistic. We could say that we have reason to celebrate because the company is afloat and thriving!

In this third stage, the startup has arrived at a successful product or service, grown rapidly, and has a cash flow that softens the feeling of constant risk from when the most important metric was the burn rate.

The founders feel that they are driving a Ferrari on a Formula One circuit, but in reality, they are riding a tricycle; although that feeling of speed is essential, the risk of coming apart has never been higher.

The founders went through a stage in which very few people believed that the opportunity they saw was interesting enough to create a company. Their convictions and tenacity have proven that they were capable of capturing that opportunity and building a business. Now they see possibility everywhere, and none better to seize them than themselves, especially with the new resources at hand.

But success can be as beneficial as it is dangerous. The founder’s unbridled confidence, an asset in earlier stages, can turn into a blinding arrogance that creates more problems than it solves. 

The company focuses on sales. No chance goes unnoticed or wasted. Although this behavior is natural, it becomes an addiction if not subject to any criteria.

The too-early pursuit of profit can inhibit the development of the company in the long-term as it often leads to neglecting the core business and any strategic planning.

Perhaps the critical tasks at a strategic level are not those that appear urgent, and for that reason they have been left aside every time a new project arises. 

Another problem is that expansion happens too quickly and weakly.  

As enthusiasm is high and all problems seem to be a thing of the past, entrepreneurs have the feeling that everything is within their reach. In a rush to close deals, contracts are signed whose demands are not always fully understood. If that is the case, the company can start to engage in work which falls outside its core competency. As a consequence, the tasks accumulate and the company begins to have problems meeting its customers.

The worst thing, once profit measurement systems are established, is discovering that any increase in sales was purely thanks to the accumulation of businesses that are not profitable and can never be profitable. 

Interpersonally, the largest problem arises when company leaders ignore criticism and don’t heed any warning signs. The early virtues of stubbornness become a vice at this point. 

Management is not only inefficient, it is frustrating. Managers are hyper Involved in daily management and have little time for leadership. Scarce attention is paid to the details. 

When orders are given, the directions are vague. Employees make mistakes. Some founders see these flaws as proof that they must be involved in everything. In the worst cases, the inability to delegate becomes chronic and limits the overall capability of the company.

Many entrepreneurs do not have the necessary experience and find it difficult to express their ideas clearly. Those who can interpret the views of the founder become the people who really grow the business.

In general, the company has poor accounting and information systems. The best data is obtained in person.

All this happens in a company built like a house of cards, something precarious that revolves around each project and the people who carry them out. 

It is time to begin the process of professionalization of the company, where now we can bring in resources that were not willing to join a startup with an uncertain future and without customers. Today the company is growing fast, and there are unique opportunities, but a gap in the org chart will appear between those who were there at the start and the new professionals.

If an organization chart exists, it is primarily for the benefit of investors and the board. It may not accurately reflect the way work is done in the organization. Employees are not clear on who to report to. Responsibilities are not well defined and goals are confusing. In this way, it is difficult to be productive.

More people are often hired and put to work with little training or preparation. Physical space and equipment are in short supply as growth is so rapid and often difficult to predict.

There are great opportunities for promotion. But this can be bad news when it is later discovered that those who were promoted have not had time to develop the skills necessary for their positions. 

The ideal would be to be able to establish organic and sustainable growth. Instead, the company builds something ad hoc. Success only puts more pressure on the company. 

Over time, two elements appear on the horizon: the threat of a great crisis or the arrival of some miracle that puts the company in order. Both acknowledge that the current situation is unsustainable.

4 — Identity

In this stage, the company defines what it wants to be and acquires its true personality. Previously, the company pursued all possible opportunities and lost efficiency and scale in that process. Now is the time to focus on the tremendous long-term opportunity and to put all the rest aside. Everything that does not bring them closer to that vision is driving them away.

At this stage, a ‘not-to-do’ list is more valuable than a ‘to-do’ list.

The changes are so significant that it is possible to speak of a rebirth of the company, the beginning of a new life beyond the one originally granted by its founders.

There are three important changes associated with a professionalization process.

The first change is the decentralizing of authority. Once the company knows what it wants and has trained its employees accordingly, the founder is in a position to delegate. Every decision needn’t go through the founder’s office. A group of managers is then formed who will also participate in the meetings in which the future of the company will be decided. This is how you go from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one.

Change is not easy. Founders fear losing control. A common trait is for founders to distribute responsibilities little by little and revert to micromanagement at the slightest sign of problems. If this behavior persists regardless of the talent of employees, we find disaster. 

Leadership also changes. It has to pass from the hands of a founder to those of a manager. Note: this does not necessarily imply the arrival of a new professional.

The manager gives structure and solidity where the founder only puts flexibility and spontaneity. If he previously went looking for all the opportunities, now he is in charge of weighing each one and saying no when appropriate. This transformation is one of the most problematic that a company can go through.

The goal is to have a more thoughtful and less intuition-driven organization with more processes & procedures, policies & structures, systems & plans. 

This process has its risks. An overemphasis on control can have a paralyzing effect. 

On the other hand, new managers can take advantage of the basic systems the company has in place to bring sudden change (and considerable expenses) in hiring and equipment purchasing, all in the name of professionalization.

We must add internal checks. The new managers may seem foreign, someone who does not fit into the company. As a result, they will experience rejection in those early employees who remember dealing directly with the founders.

As the professional manager inherits a situation where the corporate culture can be perceived as ‘chaotic,’ dealing with veteran employees can be difficult. The startup rarely has documents that show how it works. That kind of knowledge only exists in the minds of the employees. This gives them a lot of power and when the manager attempts to professionalize the company, veterans often go to complain to the founders.  

The third change is linked to goals. The difference being that a philosophy of more is better is abandoned — best is more. Before you work harder, you need to do it smarter. Efficiency becomes a goal.

As a logical consequence of this change, of course, it is possible that the company will reduce sales for a time. This is because you are exiting any lines of business that only offer low margins. 

Although the end goal may have the approval of the entire company, the various factors that make it up it rarely see anything in them that needs to be corrected. Everyone assumes that the problems are elsewhere.

Short-termism is abandoned. The founders take on the role of strategists.

The company spends much of this period between success and disaster. Sometimes sales are not enough. In others, they exceed production estimates or quality dips to below what the customer expects. 

Meanwhile, conflict between old and the new employees grow. If the confrontation worsens, side-taking will poison all the company’s projects and performance and coexistence accordingly. In the worst case, trust and respect are lost. 

One possibility is that the showdown has managers on one side and founders on the other. Power struggles consume energy, and if there is no amicable resolution, the damage to the company can be fatal.

When things go well, the founder is seen as a genius. When something goes wrong, it’s all their fault. When conflicts are not resolved, the company can go into a process of exceptional deterioration.

To successfully go through this period, companies must improve their controls, turn their structure into a scalable solution. But avoid stifling the entrepreneurial spirit. They need an institutional organization that frees them from their dependence on the founder. The new leadership roles are essential for taking responsibility and authority.

To avoid detours or worse, one needs a convincing mission that everyone can understand.

If all goes well, the new infrastructure will support current and projected growth.

In other words, the company will be an entire organization with everything the founder thought for it and more. 

5 — Fulfilment

Fulfilment happens when the company has either achieved the dreams of the founder or has the potential to do so. 

Don’t think of it like scaling a mountain. Although the metaphor is valid, many companies never reach this peak. It isn’t really a fixed point anyhow; there may be improvements and setbacks. This is the result of the inevitable tension between flexibility and control that companies need. It should also be noted that it is always possible to improve a little more.

At this stage, there is a committed, proactive, strong organization that knows what it wants and has also achieved a good understanding of what it will take to find success. 

The founders’ vision appears for the first time clearly as the guiding light for the entire company. Be the market leader, own the category, lead the industry.

The company leaves room for its own interests to fight for the interests of the industry since being the leader of this, any increase in the market share of the industry will benefit the company more than any competitor.

The different areas of a company must be in tune. Marketing, sales, finance, customer service, etc., must have a common goal to guide their actions. If each one pursues a disjointed individual plan, the success of one conspires against the success of the other. Strategy, structure, resources, reward and information systems fit the vision.

This harmony extends beyond the company and is observed in every dealing with investors, suppliers, and clients. 

Internal robustness allows the company to focus on the outside world. Employees are happy, and decisions are made without significant conflicts.

The entrepreneurial spirit merges creativity and innovation with a clear profit orientation.

The scale of objectives grows. Founders look to international markets and they want to be the leaders in their industry. It is possible to propose strategic alliances. They begin to talk about the brand positioning, its image, and they give much more credence to the concept of corporate social responsibility.

At this stage, it is normal for there to be a shortage of qualified personnel to cover all the business of the company. 

Much more worrying is that the company shows signs of insufficient decentralization. 

Ambitions grow. They have to grow because it is necessary to maintain staff motivation. This moment of stability is deceptive. If the founders do not take care to prevent it, they could fall into complacency, the traps in comfort and vanity.

Only if they are able to reformulate themselves — to think of new dreams each day — will they be able to maintain fullness.

But because the company enjoys high levels of growth, sales, and profits, and such a situation does not change from one day to the next, the mentality of the founders and professionals may gradually lose its edge. Nobody sees the consequences of neglect, which will only come after a good number of months.

The development of a desire to maintain the status quo is joint and is often accompanied by a sense of security and a lack of concern or urgency. 

This conservative mentality is also observed in the search for order beyond the real benefits that it can offer.

The objective of those who run the company should be to keep the organization in a permanent state of dissatisfaction and discomfort. That is to say, to feed ambition.

Fully-grown companies often create new business units to try and inject some quantity of entrepreneurial spirit. A shared resource is the acquisition of other companies.

If the renewal measures are not effective, what follows is a stage of decline that can move at different speeds depending on the case. Regardless, the fear of this process, the concern to prevent it are good signs. Companies have a much darker future when they do not look away from the immediate present and they believe that they have everything under control, resolved, and not requiring change.

6 — Comfort and Vanity

‘Comfort and Vanity’ is the stage where a process of deterioration-into-decay begins. This is where founders get used to the success fulfillment brings. It is difficult to find motivation in new challenges, complacency begins to grow. They are the sins of every business person and his managers; they are tempting and equally dangerous.

The corrosion that comfort produces can be seen in the attitudes of the company and its leaders. A feeling of satisfaction appears, a lack of concern, a loss of ambition. There is a reduction in creativity, innovation, and the desire for change. Risks are not taken as they once were; they are avoided. The idea is that if something is not broken, it should not be fixed.

What is disappearing is the share of entrepreneurial spirit. New ideas are discussed but without enthusiasm. Instead, there is a reliance on the past, on the old formulas that led the company to its current success.  

This deterioration is not noticeable. Businesses have reached a state in their prime where they have a large amount of cash, a solid financial position, and strong business units. In some cases, the company is the market leader.

It will take a long time for the internal changes to take effect.

There is also a change in the focus of managers. The office attracts your attention more than the market. 

The company’s center of gravity shifts, positions related to finance, accounting, human resources, management, and legal matters become more important. Marketing, sales, and production take a back seat.

The goals are financial, short-term, and low-risk. Actual achievements are becoming more minor and less critical.

Staff is shy about expressing their opinions. Communications are more structured. Notes are taken, documents are written, minutes are taken. Language is more elusive, with double negations and terms that relativize what is said. In private, everyone has stronger opinions, but they prefer not to share them.  

The atmosphere of the company becomes more formal. Employees are called by their last name. Meetings are no longer seen as a waste of time, hours that could be spent on other tasks. Nobody wants to cause problems, and everyone is satisfied and proud of what they have. The important thing is to fit in, to preserve the status quo.

This vanity is noticeable even in the way the professionals dress, the luxuries in the company’s facilities. 

But profit margins are slowly falling, and a lack of innovation ends in the deterioration of products. 

The time comes when everyone knows there is a problem, thousands of meetings are held but no one decides anything. They try to keep up appearances for a while, but the situation affects the mood and health of all executives.

And then the financial reports will show the weakness of the company.

When the crisis breaks out, it drags the entire organization downwards. The relationship between managers collapses. A person in charge is sought, and if none exists, a scapegoat is found. Layoffs begin to occur. The loss of talent only compounds the problem. 

The fear of being fired drives paranoia and rumors. The corporate environment grows toxic. Energy is spent forming groups and fighting internal battles. The sense of survival, however, is individual.

Luckily the evil can be remedied, but it will take a great deal of effort.

On the other hand, the most common trend is that the leaders of a company that goes through this stage remain in a state of denial. They may hire someone to make changes, but even if they agree with his instruction, they won’t support him as they should. 

Executives then decide that they can increase growth and profits by raising prices and lowering costs. But this undermines the relationship that the company has with its customers.

The problem … they are the problem.

They are weak when it comes to making decisions. They think they are in control when what they need to do — what they know they need to do — is step aside. They are bound by the bureaucracy of committees and rules.  

A common response here is either a pressing need to make risky investments by buying companies in the pursuit of growth. But those that are acquired are in the early stages and are suffocated with the same bureaucracy that is sinking the parent.

In both this and other stages, the founders may be able to recognize the problems and look for a turnaround plan that makes the company less complacent, one that helps it regain lost ambition. More often, the founders decide not to risk more and to look for some way out that allows them to cash out.

7 — Exit

The last stage for the founder is always the one that marks his departure from the company. It is not a required step, so long as you enjoy your work and do it well. But it is an issue to consider.

It should be noted that many entrepreneurs must step aside when in a professionalization process. The company needs a more skilled manager. It may also happen that the energies and ambition of the founder are not the same as they had before, nor those required by the company to continue growing.

Others will discover that what they like best about a startup is the challenge, building something where there was nothing. They might lack the motivation to make it grow and scale. Once a project has been carried out, they will choose to start a different one. It may also happen that their needs have changed, that they want to dedicate themselves to something else.

Selling is not a simple process.

If the founders have not adequately considered what the main objective of the company is, or of their role as shareholders, a situation may arise in which one founder wants to sell and the other no. This aspect should also be clear to investors.

We must understand the criteria that can guide us to get the best offer. To sell the company, the founders must consider the best time, according to the economic cycles: those of the industry and the personal ones. 

Before selling a business, it should have the opportunity to prove its worth. It is important to create a reputation within the industry since brands carry a lot of weight when it comes to establishing value. Sales marketing is a strategy that tries to enhance this factor.

Listed companies have the advantage of having a daily estimate of their value. In addition, the liquidity offered by shares offers (or implies) the possibility of sale should something goes wrong.

Getting the best price is important. However, the founder must bear in mind that the more a company is worth, the more difficult it is to sell it since there are fewer willing buyers.

Hiring an expert is the best way for a founder to ensure that the operation is in capable hands and that sentiments do not get in the way of negotiations.

Another fundamental aspect of the sale is to keep the preparations and negotiations secret until their knowledge is inevitable or what is going to happen has been defined. 

The role of the founder during the transition period that follows the sale is also very important. Many purchasing companies set requirements to ensure that they will count on your cooperation.

Finally, we will find ourselves a bit like at the beginning, wondering what we want to do with our lives, looking for new challenges. The feeling of loss after spending so much time building an organization, struggling, and suffering to make it successful can be real.

For some founders, the end will be the opportunity for a new beginning — time to create a new company. For others, it is time to try something different, become an investor, industry guru, philanthropist, or perhaps an artist. In any case, the important thing for the founder is to be clear in his heart as to what it means to be successful.

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