Johnson Cook

Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Johnson Cook - Atlanta tech investor. Entrepreneur.

Taking Chips Off the Table for Later Stage Entrepreneurs vs. Cashing Out When You’re Stuck


casino-chipsYesterday, David wrote about entrepreneurs taking chips off the table.  I agree fully with his post. I’ve seen entrepreneurs act with more confidence and function at a higher level after they have removed some of the risk for their family.

This is usually a conversation for entrepreneurs who have built substantial value in their company, but there are many more who aren’t yet to this stage where taking chips off the table is an option. For these entrepreneurs, the Vegas metaphor that I like (from Tony Hsieh’s book) is that you may be playing at the wrong table.

Sometimes the best option is to cash out at your current table, accept that you are break-even, learned a ton, and can now play at a different table.

NOTE, this may not mean cashing out of your company completely.

It may mean you are playing in the wrong market. Or maybe you have the wrong team assembled.  Perhaps you haven’t been able to identify the painkiller that you thought, and it’s time to do some blue sky sessions and dream bigger to find a true pain.

I’m a big advocate for entrepreneurs who are fixated and spin their wheels with no traction after a long, long time… that for these guys, making a big dramatic change is just what they need to gain some self-awareness and visibility into their actions.

Entrepreneurs aren’t mean to be static creatures. We can’t learn and accelerate when we’re stuck in one place.  Sometimes, “cashing out” and taking your money to another table is a great option that will help you continue the hunt for the big fish.


Category: Efficiency
  • Xin Hong says:

    For the first time entrepreneurs, it can be painful to view their company as a table in the casino, leave all the emotions/attachments behind to make the decision of “cashing out” or “taking chips off”
    How did you deal with these emotions?

    October 1, 2013 at 10:47 am
    • Johnson Cook says:

      Great, great point! I have a blog post in draft mode that is titled “Entrepreneurs biggest Strength is Our Biggest Weakness: Emotions!”

      If only we could be calculating and logical about all that we do, I think we could go faster, be more efficient, and more effective at changing the world around us… yet, emotions are part of it.

      Understanding the emotions, being aware of them, and knowing when they are clouding your judgement are a big advantage for an a high performing entrepreneur.

      Average entrepreneurs are operating and reacting to emotions, but the best control their emotions. This is one reason it’s super hard and rare to excel in your 20’s. It’s not until your 30’s when you begin to develop this unique capability.

      October 1, 2013 at 2:40 pm
      • Xin Hong says:

        Thank Johnson. You are definitely right. Emotional intelligence might be the invisible and vital strength that decide if you are a successful entrepreneur or not.

        Don’t know if you have seen this outline of entrepreneurs’ emotional curves. Very descriptive.

        October 1, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *