Before You Start a Business, Decide What Success Looks Like.

“What do you mean we can’t pay dividends this year?” Elisa was incredulous. The board of the watch company she and her husband Mark had founded had just reviewed projected end-of-year performance. Usually, this meeting was a celebration of another incremental step forward, with moderate growth, no debt, and significant dividends, which Elisa and Mark used to support their comfortable lifestyle and charitable donations.  This year, however, revenue growth was way up, but profits were down, and the covenants on the debt taken out by the company to achieve that growth did not allow for any dividends. It was the first time that Elisa had felt out of control of the company she had co-founded. (Throughout this article, names and identifying details have been changed to protect confidentiality.)



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