My tech startup might never get sold. Should I stay or go?

Nine To Five: Special to The Globe and Mail, Published Sunday, September 1, 2013


I joined a technology startup six years ago in a management position. At the time, the expectation of the founder and senior executives was that we would build up the company and sell it to a strategic buyer within five years. Personally, I would enjoy a nice financial gain from my shares and options that would about double my own retirement savings, enabling me to retire at age 55 (which I turned last year).

For various reasons, both internal and external, things have not moved as quickly as expected and I think an exit is still at least two years away. And there’s still a risk that it won’t happen. I enjoy my job but I’m wondering if I should go somewhere else where they can pay me full market value and work until I’m 60, so I have enough money put away to retire without relying on the financial windfall?


The best laid plans of mice and men. Whether the cost of working the last six years at two-thirds of your market value has been worth it or not is a moot point; the last six years are over. The question is how to make the most of your remaining work years.

You have a couple of options, and since money seems to be the motivator to go or stay, you need more variables. You could start looking around for another job, check out the marketplace, see how saleable you are. If a dream position presents itself at the rate of pay you require, then you have more factors to consider as you make your decision.

Nothing is for sure, and a new position doesn’t guarantee you a job for five years any more than your present company may find a buyer in two years. It is really a matter of the devil you know and the devil you don’t know.

Make a list of pros and cons for both options — staying and going. Which side gets more points? Put a value on each point. Add up the points on each side and examine how you feel and think about the answer.

If I were to tell you “Get a new job,” how does that make you feel? If I tell you “Stay where you are,” how does that make you feel? You need more variables to make this decision.

Colleen Clarke
Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer

Author of Networking How To Build Relationships That Count and How To Get a Job and Keep It

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