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When is the right time to sell your business?

Deciding to hand over the reins of your company is the hardest of choice of all, but sometimes it can be better for your startup if you did. Alistair Crane considers your options.

After carefully protecting and preserving an idea, watching it flourish and grow with help from mentors, friends, family and investors, possibly the hardest decision an entrepreneur has to make is whether or not to continue leading their company.

They have experienced ups and downs, growth spurts and blunted edges. They had a the final say on talent, design, direction and product; simply relinquishing that to someone else at the right acquisition stage is much harder than it sounds.

For Alistair Crane, CSO of Monitise, that right acquisition stage can actually be useful for a company’s next phase.

“You have to acknowledge the opportunity for the business and the team because you have to pursue every avenue in order to achieve [your company’s] full potential.”

That may mean relinquishing some control in order to allow the idea to prosper, which Crane considers a good thing.

“This is positive, and that’s where our Grapple acquisition came from, because as a founder you have to want your company to be as big and powerful as possible, and the way through Monitise was the best way for us.”

M&As are a useful time for a founder to take stock of the journey they have taken so far and consider their next steps.

However, for some, entrepreneurialism is exhausting and even destructive. Irrespective of the right acquisition stage, taking a step back for the sake of themselves, the company and employees could be the path of least resistance – at least in the opinion of Crane.

“I also meet business people who are tired and jaded and it’s not fair on the wider team. It’s about acknowledging as a founder that you have run out of steam. It’s about being true to yourself, your team, and your vision; checking your on track, still on trajectory and whether someone else would promote the company better.”