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Knowing When to Exit Allowed WIBO Alumna Chance to Pivot

In 2000, Nancy Coughlin, an undergraduate student at the time, took the WIBO Workshop in Mid-town Manhattan. Immersed in the WIBO family, she quickly went from being a participant to being a volunteer to working for the organization, serving as its program coordinator for several years. For WIBO alumna Nancy Coughlin entrepreneurship has always been a part of her life. A trained real estate agent, she went from running a rewarding home organization business helping busy Long Island families wrangle their clutter to owning a retail aquarium superstore. Today, she is a Florida State Licensed Home Inspector for Bilt Rite, a local family-owned Building Science firm.

Nancy attributes WIBO with sparking a love for teaching and learning–a passion that she enjoys today as a volunteer teacher for Habitat for Humanity and working with her home inspection clients. Teaching is one of the many skills that Nancy has continued to explore thanks to her and her partner and husband Peter’s ability to seize the opportunity to exit their most recent business on a solid footing. How did she do it?

In 2013, she relocated to Jacksonville, Florida and opened Coral Reef Junkies, with her husband. The 2,000 square foot retail aquarium superstore offered exotic fish, live corals, and more. “We didn’t plan to sell the business, but when the opportunity presented itself we had to consider it. The aquarium and exotic fish retail industry were changing–and not for the better. Selling the business was emotional; but, it was a great opportunity,” says Nancy. “An exit strategy is about knowing when to get out. You have to look at it as an opportunity to free you up to focus on your next endeavor.” Nancy’s ability to seize the opportunity presented the perfect exit strategy and enabled her to successfully sell the Coral Reef business for a small profit.

About the WIBO experience, Nancy says: “The WIBO lessons were invaluable and I still use them today. I still refer to the workbook too! I’m also still friends with many of my fellow participants and Workshop Leaders to this day. WIBO gave me a set of tools that have continued to use over the years. I firmly believe WIBO is the best hands-on learning experience for any serious entrepreneur.”

Nancy and her husband, Peter, share these tips:

4 Tips for Knowing When to Exit

  1. Look at market trends: Do your research and analysis. Consider how government regulations are changing, talk to industry experts and conferences, and look at competitors. Is your market growing or shrinking?

  2. Keep an eye on the competition. How many competitors are entering your space? How is this impacting your bottom line? Perhaps, it presents a great opportunity to sell.

  3. Keep a tab on your product: Perhaps, your products are perishable. If your product isn’t being sold, then you’ve got an issue. It’s time to consider the factors contributing to a loss in product. You may not be selling fast enough.

  4. Are you losing money? It’s true that you have to spend money to make money; but, having a profitable business means you need to know and review your financial status often. If you find that at one time you were showing a profit, but find yourself putting more money into the business than you’re earning, something is wrong. It’s time to take a close look at why.

3 Things that are Good about an Exit Strategy

  • You walk away with your mind in a good place.
  • You don’t get burned out.
  • You remain ready and charged up for what’s next. You get to regroup, reset, and research something new.

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