I was reading an interesting story on President Bush in Yahoo News (because, of course, I so seldom get away from my PC). There was a picture of the president trying to make a hasty retreat from reporters in Beijing, only to discover that the doors had been locked. Apparently, he hadn't decided on an exit strategy beforehand. His predicament reminded me of a problem that entrepreneurs may often encounter. The lack of a feasible exit strategy.
Why would you need an exit strategy for a plan, a partnership or your relationship with a vendor? Because the consequences are TOO high for you not to. It doesn't make you a failure and you are not planning to fail. Instead, you are covering all of your bases in order to protect your interests. How so?
Let's say you decide to go into business with a neighbor. The idea seems perfect; she lives right next door and you've always had a great relationship. However, going into business with someone can be very much like a marriage. Living with them full-time just isn't quite the same. What if the partnership just isn't working out like you'd planned? Maybe both of you are unhappy and would like to bow out gracefully, but are both afraid to hurt each other's feelings. Continuing a poorly matched partnership will only damage the business and quite possibly your relationship, as well.
On the other hand, if you and your neighbor sit down and frankly discuss all of the expectations for the business and of each other, measurable ways to determine if the partnership is “working" and graceful ways for one or both of you to bow out, you are far more likely to see your enterprise become successful. You are also taking a very important step to protect your relationship with your neighbor.
Another situation that calls for a well-planned exit strategy is entering a relationship with a vendor. Ask every question imaginable before agreeing to sign up for a new service. Read even the annoying fine print of the user agreements and ask if you can receive an email confirming the conversation before you agree to move forward. (If you have to make 3 requests to get that email, it's a good bet that is the type of customer service you will receive. ) And, if you are using a free trial of 30 or 90 days, be sure to set a reminder on your calendar or PDA to prompt you to begin assessing the situation at 25 or 80 days, respectively. That way, if you hit the “snooze" a couple of times, you will still have a good lead time to get out of the agreement, while the getting is good.
Roxanne Ravenel is the President/Owner of SOHO Support Solutions LLC, a full-service Copywriting & Virtual Assistance Firm. Her firm produces business articles and a variety of marketing collateral for small to medium business organizations and independent professionals, through strategic collaboration of a team of experienced copywriters and other professionals in a variety of complementary fields. Visit http://www.SOHOSupportSolutions.com/ to learn more about her firm’s services.
Copyright © 2005 Roxanne Ravenel