Read the following extract and answer all the questions that follow.
How to Recover Gracefully After Shutting Down Your Startup Itâ€™s hard to call it quits on a business venture, but entrepreneurs can wind down a struggling startup while keeping their reputations and sanity intact, says Tom Eisenmann. The first step is knowing when to accept defeat. When Munchery announced in January that it would join the compost heap of food delivery startups, the San Francisco company burned customers, suppliers, and investors that included Oscar-winning actors Jared Leto and Marisa Tomei. In its bankruptcy filing, Munchery said that it owed $3 million to more than 230 creditors, including a bakery owner who held a special bake sale to express her outrage. Did a company that had raised more than $120 million in venture capital need to stiff so many people? Tom Eisenmann, the Howard H. Stevenson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, says that shutting down a startup is almost always a messy affair. When a venture requires a cash infusion to survive, its founders may turn to bottom-fisher investors who force the company to restructure its capitalization, making the equity stakes of earlier backers and managers worthless. â€œTHERE ARE MANY THINGS THAT ENTREPRENEURS CAN DO TO â€¦ POSITION THEMSELVES TO BOUNCE BACK FROM A FAILURE.â€ If new funds arenâ€™t forthcoming, the founder will likely put the company up for sale, confronting prospective buyers whoâ€™ll play a waiting game, knowing that their deal terms will improve as the startup approaches its â€œfume dateâ€ â€”when its bank balance hits zero. In parallel, the founder will probably start to lay off employees, deciding how deeply to cut. And this is just the prelude to a shutdown. Things get worse when it becomes clear that new investors and new owners wonâ€™t rescue the startup. Liquidation follows and, along with it, a contentious auction of assets to pay creditors. â€œThere are many things that entrepreneurs can do to fail wellâ€”in ways that preserve their relationships and integrityâ€”and to position themselves to bounce back from a failure,â€ says Eisenmann, who has interviewed dozens of founders of failed businesses for his upcoming book, tentatively titled Why Startups Fail. He has also been sharing his insights with MBA students in a new course called Entrepreneurial Failure. Knowing when itâ€™s time to give up Failing well starts with admitting defeat early enough to make sound decisions, Eisenmann says. But deciding when to pull the plug is rarely easy. Hereâ€™s why: Failure happens slowly. A struggling business might limp along for months or even years, sometimes with small bursts of hope along the way. It can be difficult to discern how well a startup is doing, but â€œsidewaysâ€ is rarely the right direction. For example, in early 2016, leaders of the package delivery venture Shyp were refining the companyâ€™s business model and dialing back earlier expansion moves in search of profit. Despite signs of trouble, the companyâ€”which had raised more than $60 million from investors that included Kleiner Perkinsâ€”didnâ€™t close for another two years. No one wants to be a quitter. Psychology professor Angela Duckworth tapped into the zeitgeist with her famous TED Talk and best-selling book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. While the premise might apply to earning a degree or learning a new skill, some entrepreneurs value persistence to an excess, Eisenmann says. â€œFounders hear about other entrepreneurs who pulled a rabbit out of a hat in the 11th hour,â€ says Eisenmann, who also cochairs the HBS Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. â€œAnd they are told that great entrepreneurs are persistent. So, if you throw in the towel, you must not be a great entrepreneur.â€ Itâ€™s hard to let others down. Letting go of an ill-conceived idea becomes much harder when dozens of employees rely on it to feed their families. And what about customers who love the product? Or investors who believed in the founder and her dream? Many entrepreneurs rightly want to protect the interests of these constituencies, Eisenmann says, and will strive to do so by keeping the startup aliveâ€”sometimes longer than they should. Employees might benefit more, for example, by moving on to their next job, rather than scrambling to bail out a sinking ship. Leaders may be isolated. In a perfect world, an entrepreneur could seek counsel from investors, colleagues, or the companyâ€™s board about whether to pull the plug. In reality, founders are expected to be completely confident, lest they seem incompetent. A cry for helpâ€”or simply an honest appraisal of the situationâ€”might prompt investors to withhold new funding or employees to flee, hastening a companyâ€™s demise. â€œIf you have a spouse or a significant other, theyâ€™re not always in a good position to be a clear-headed adviser,â€ Eisenmann adds. â€œTheyâ€™ve probably been doing the lionâ€™s share of keeping the household on the rails and caring for children while youâ€™ve been working 100-hour weeks and ignoring the family. At some point, youâ€™ll exhaust their patience.â€ Failing with intent Failed founders that Eisenmann interviewed recommend that entrepreneurs step back and ask if their ventures are still on track to fulfill their original goals. If the answer is â€œNo,â€ if they are out of moves, or simply lack the resolve to carry on, founders should consider shutting down. Once they make that call, their next step should be to consult a lawyer and an accountant to understand their legal obligations and how to sequence payments to parties owed money. After that, they should formulate a plan for communicating the news to customers and employeesâ€”and helping them with the transition. One of the worst things a startup leader can do is exit abruptly, leaving the messy endgame for others to manage, says Eisenmann. â€œA founder might realize, â€˜Iâ€™m not going to make any money from this venture,â€™ and simply move on to their next act,â€ he says. â€œVCs get furious when a founder decides to cut and run, and they arenâ€™t shy about telling anyone whoâ€™ll listen that theyâ€™ll never back that founder again.â€ How to bounce back The pain of closing a business can overwhelm founders, whose identity is intertwined with that of their venture. Failed founders wonder what theyâ€™ll do nextâ€”are they employable? Adding to their worries, their personal finances may be in shambles. Most entrepreneurs cut their own salaries as their venture goes into decline, and many have invested their life savings in the startupâ€”along with funds from friends and family. If entrepreneurs reach the acceptance phase of K?bler-Rossâ€™s five stages of grief, theyâ€™re ready to reflect on what went wrong, how they contributed to the outcome, and whether they want to pursue another entrepreneurial venture. â€œWhen things go wrong, itâ€™s human nature to blame othersâ€”say, investors who pushed for a flawed strategy, or an unforgiving universe,â€ Eisenmann says. â€œWith some distance from the failure, a founder will typically see that those firstblush explanations may have some merit. But theyâ€™ll also recognize that their own decisions and shortcomings as a leader almost certainly played a big role in their ventureâ€™s demise.â€ As part of a deep postmortem, Eisenmann recommends that entrepreneurs seek honest feedback from as many people involved in the venture as possible. This helps entrepreneurs close any memory gaps and challenge the human tendency to blame external factors. The process helps entrepreneurs explain past failures to prospective investors if they decide to launch another new venture. In many parts of the world, failed founders are stigmatized, but fortunately, in Silicon Valley and some other startup ecosystems, investors are more forgiving. â€œItâ€™s easier when folks understand that failure is part of the process,â€ Eisenmann says. â€œIt also helps if the person who presided over a failure can thoughtfully discuss what really happened, what they learned from it, and how theyâ€™ll manage their next startup.â€
Discuss FIVE (5) personal characteristics of a successful entrepreneur that will either result in success or failure in the process of shutting down their start up as shown in the extract. (20 marks)
Note the quotation from the extract below and discuss the various methods of generating ideas entrepreneurs who have closed their start up can utilise to “Bounce back” using your OWN example to support you discussion.
â€œThe pain of closing a business can overwhelm founders, whose identity is intertwined with that of their venture. Failed founders wonder what theyâ€™ll do nextâ€”are they employable? Adding to their worries, their personal finances may be in shambles. Most entrepreneurs cut their own salaries as their venture goes into decline, and many have invested their life savings in the startupâ€”along with funds from friends and family.â€
Discuss the FIVE (5) C’s lenders and investors look for in a business plan and comment on how these could be affected given an entrepreneur has recently had to close down a business.
Discuss FIVE (5) general management functions in the context of how they can minimise the risk of a business failure.
Read the following quote and use it to discuss an effective control process that would ensure that Munchery delivers its food on time.
â€œBack in 2010, Munchery co-founders Tri Tran and Conrad Chu came up with a seemingly brilliant idea in Munchery. Hiring a team of gourmet chefs that would cook up a variety of uniquely crafted, continually changing menus, Munchery allowed users to order this food and have it delivered straight to their doorstep. Customers would then be able to rate the food and the chefs according to their satisfaction.â€