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Sell in May and Go Away? No way

Now that we are about a month in to Brexit, it is time to bear the emotion out of that horrendously divisive day by taking stock of what is going on and why it matters so much.

Brexit has been one of the biggest subjects of conversation in our national, business and tech news in the last 12 months. In fact, it was only last year we focused on that topic here at TechCrunch, and this year we’ve become experts at turning up the heat on everything relating to Brexit.

And we’re not the only ones. Brexit has been on the agenda since it was first suggested that the UK should pull out of the European Union, after the referendum in 2016 to exit the E.U. While David Cameron lost the vote, that doesn’t mean that the plan is going to happen. It’s still far from clear whether we are going to leave, or will try to stay. The biggest hurdle is yet to come, but we can still look to use Brexit as an opportunity to help people make better business decisions.

Do deals, then go away

To make a decision to sell and go somewhere else, you need to make a sale. That’s what we’re talking about – a sale. However, it’s really easy to make the wrong decision when emotions are running high and you’re not being reasonable. We did this ourselves once.

We had a business idea that we thought was really cool. We went to the bank to try and get a loan for it, but that loan was turned down. It wasn’t because they refused to lend us any money, but because we didn’t have any project/sales numbers to show for it. In a similar way, we were blinded by our new idea. We had done no proof of concepts, had no reference customers, or any sales to show. This was never about being wrong – but rather about getting overly emotional about the fact that we really liked what we were doing.

We were in a great place. We had developed our product, hired a small team of enthusiastic people, and were starting to make real progress. We were already close to where we wanted to be. We’d considered several friends, family and investors for our next round of funding. The investors we’d considered were keen to give us the funding, but our company had no real proof of concept, sales numbers, and no real explanation of why we deserved the money. We had been too deeply involved in the fundraising process, therefore, to make the right decision when it came to selling or funding.

The next big opportunity

It’s time to accept that the time for selling is very different now to when we made that decision in our very young startup. Even though now we understand that the best time to sell is when it is practical and convenient, the emotional attachment to that idea that got us started isn’t gone. That is a real learning from the experience above.

If you are in a similar situation as we were, the best approach is to take stock and realize that the time for selling is often only when it’s practical, convenient, or the cost-benefit ratio is right. Many people have reasons not to sell, and a lot of the time, being right isn’t the issue. It’s just how things seem. However, you should also realize that if you are in a certain position, you have a unique opportunity that is almost impossible to find again.

The platform made by our former firm is extremely valuable. We made a fortune by selling it to a very competent firm at the most opportune time, but one that did not require us to spend the capital required to build another version of the solution. Using this experience as a guide, you can be in the right place at the right time and be the right person in the right place at the right time to ensure you’re the beneficiary of the deal.

In a market as hypercompetitive as being an entrepreneur, the best way to beat yourself up in post-mortems is by losing focus. It’s easy to do that when you’re passionate about something, but many times it’s not the best way to head that passion into having positive results. By taking stock and maintaining focus, you can turn that passion into cash.

It’s true that if you continue to sell to avoid a Brexit, and Brexit happens, it’s a really bad decision. That’s a given. But if you take a big step back and realize that the time to sell is only when it is practical, convenient, or the cost-benefit ratio is right, you can adjust your approach accordingly.

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