Building a business is one of the greatest creative acts of all.
It takes time. It takes planning. It takes a lot of energy, experimentation, and expletives.
And it is a process littered with both triumphs and disasters of the tallest order.
But like any creative act, building a business is tremendously rewarding, especially when it becomes attractive for other companies to buy. Indeed, selling a business can be seen as the ultimate vote of confidence that what you’ve done really does have value.
Like their comrades in the arts, business builders approach their creations one of two ways:
From an angle of doing it for the sheer joy the creative process brings, or from an angle of making it a viable commodity to sell one day in the marketplace.
Some of history’s greatest business success stories fall into one of these two camps.
I believe the best ones fall into both.
Stu McLaren, the founder and creator of WishList, a highly successful membership plugin for WordPress, fits into the latter camp. Yesterday he posted on Facebook that he has decided to sell his business, citing the following passage from Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism as one of the driving factors behind his decision, which he fully admits was not simple:
Building WishList has been an incredible experience for Stu, but he’s ready for something new. He’s ready to enjoy more 90s and 100s, and leave those 60s and 70s behind for good.
Businesses, like novels, or paintings, or plays, or albums can become dominating forces in their creator’s life, essentially snuffing out just about every other element of life except keeping that monster alive (a concept Mary Shelley personified in her classic novel Frankenstein). These creations can and often do take over our lives, bringing us to the edge of self-destruction if we aren’t careful. When it’s our own “thing,” we become obsessed, distressed, depressed and everything in between as we ride the crazy roller coaster of entrepreneurship.
Long hours, concerns about raising capital for expansion, worrying about how to make payroll when sales are down…the list of what keeps entrepreneurs up at night is never ending.
Who among us can fault anyone who — after a lengthy and careful consideration — declares:
“I want to spend more time with my family.”
Which may or may not be true, but still makes the point crystal clear that it’s time to do something different.
I am excited for Stu and what his next chapter will bring for him and his family. Based on how often he posts about his young kids on Facebook, I believe he is genuine when he says he really does want to spend more time with his wife and children. He has modeled brilliantly for the entrepreneurial community that the best rewards of suffering through all those 60s and 70s on the way to making the Big Dream come true come about as a result one important thing:
Making a decision.