In 2019, Rid Yourself of Reactivity

Here’s a new twist on resolutions, from Brad Feld this morning: What won’tyou do in 2019?

He has a list of suggestions for CEOs, “things that often are optional, but consume a lot of time and energy,” including not being distracted by acquisitions:

Assume you are a fast growing company with plenty of financial resources. Maybe you’ve made some acquisitions in the past. But, you haven’t thought about it specifically, so it’s a reactive or opportunistic move. It’s very freeing to decide “this year we aren’t making any acquisitions and we aren’t going to be distracted by the motion around an acquisition.” The nice thing about being a CEO, especially of a company in a strong position, is that you can change your mind. But by declaring what you won’t do up front for some time, it makes the decision one where you have to actively change your mind about what you won’t do.

For sure.

It’s shocking to me that most companies have so much reactivity in their DNA. They don’t plan for an acquisition, they don’t know where the road ends, or forks, or turns into a highway. I’m heartened by a rising chorus of “start with the end in mind,” but not enough companies are doing this yet.

It’s too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, to ride the momentum and good feelings of a growing customer base, or, conversely, to throw one’s whole self into stanching losses and finding short-term fixes to get back on track. This is all so precarious and it adheres to no particular direction. It makes it too easy, too, to be drawn in by shiny new things, like a cool new company to buy or an acquirer with an offer.

Let’s play out the scenario a bit: Company is doing great, and a buyer comes along. Momentum hits some speed bumps, the executive team scrambles to stock the data room. There’s excitement and stress. But you didn’t have a plan for it. You didn’t target 2019 for an exit, with a clear exit plan for the company and a personal exit plan for you. So maybe it goes great, or, as Brad wonders, maybe it “consumes a lot of time and energy.”

Let’s heed Brad’s words. Awareness is the first step.

In 2019, what won’t you do?

Next, let’s make a proactive plan toward what you will do and how you’ll get there.

Laura Rich is founder of Exit Club, a service and community that helps entrepreneurs have a great post-exit life.

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