walking awayI recently decided to walk away from a deal. It was a good opportunity, workable and beneficial to both parties. Why did I walk? Because after a certain point, the deal became too difficult. Over the course of many years, I’ve had the opportunity to work on quite a variety of business acquisition, real estate and customer deals. Time and again, I’ve realized that the best deals are almost always the ones that have an easy, natural flow to them. This doesn’t mean there is no work involved, it means that the elements involved seem to align in a natural way – a kind of serendipity. How do you know when it’s time to walk away?

  1. Too Many Gyrations. Good deals have a natural flow. They just seem to work. If you have to stretch, rationalize, jump through hoops etc. to the point of discomfort, it might be time to walk.
  2. Too Much of a Distraction. If the deal you are pursuing becomes obsessive to the detriment of your current business activities, then it may be time to walk away. Keep in mind that it could be distracting to you and to your team. It is one thing to take your eye off of the ball for a few plays – it is another issue to have your team-members distracted along with you.
  3. Too Much Intestinal Discomfort. Yes, the proverbial “gut check”. Don’t underestimate this one. I have walked away numerous times at the urging of my gut. We all have developed self-protective instincts that reconcile our risk tolerance with our audacity. There is a fine line between pushing past your fears (boldness/courage) and walking foolishly into harm’s way. Listen to that voice and discern carefully.
  4. Too Much Emotion. It is easy to become emotionally attached to an opportunity. For me, I tend to project myself into the world that occurs after a deal has been closed. I like to visualize the brave new world that will open to me and it can be difficult to let that go in the face of hard facts. If you feel that “you absolutely have to get this deal” or become impatient with the endless little hurdles along the way, you may have too much emotion wrapped into the project. Take a step back and a deep breath while trying to separate fact from emotion.
  5. Other Opportunities. The great news about the world is that there are plenty of other deals! Sometimes the right time to walk away is when something better emerges. We have to remain open to new opportunities even when we’re chin-deep in current projects. Please note: these principals should not be applied to relationships – at least not if you want to have healthy, long term versions.

Though I prefer to “push through”, there are definitely appropriate times to walk away. Having a effective approach to discerning the difference is critical to long term success.