Secrets of a Successful Exit

Introducing G.U.P., the formula for success that can bring you the financial independence you crave.

By: Chia-Li Chien | Published Date: 08/06/2009

In Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, he explores why some people are so successful. Many of the examples he uses are well-known figures in the modern world. Assuming that you're industrious and have the right background, obtaining success according to your own definition is not that difficult, Gladwell concludes. In line with that philosophy, let me introduce G.U.P., my unofficial secret formula for success.

G.U.P. is three sets of variables that all of us need to discover and use in order to obtain the successful status that represents a successful life--by one's own definition. That includes building a successful business and completing a successful exit from your business to realize your dream. This is the full cycle an entrepreneur goes through. G.U.P. will help you internalize your North Star or road map to get there. But it's the P portion of the acronym that future columns will focus on. Read on to learn how to be successful and realize your dream of financial independence. For centuries the Chinese have believed that success hinges on three variables. All three variables must line up just like the slot machine at a casino. When that happens, you've hit the jackpot and, in layman's terms, you're successful. This could be in any profession, any career, anything in general that people describe as success. That is, you have to be in the right time, be in the right place and be with the right people.

The G Variables

at the right time

in the right place

with the right people

Gladwell's book includes a chapter about Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. Gates clearly has the G Variables all lined up. He was in the software industry at the right time and he happened to be in the right place. And he surrounded himself with the right people to make Microsoft possible.

Why do I call them G Variables? It stands for God-Given Variables, because you have very little control over the right time, the right place and the right people. Does that mean you don't have to work hard? No, because if you're willing to put forth the effort to reach your vision, you'll take control over the G Variables. In Chinese culture, we also believe that there is a god who is watching you 3 feet above your head all the time. The god ultimately will make the G Variables line up in your favor if you're putting in the necessary effort.

The U Variables
However, if you want to have successful business, there's a set of U Variables you must line up before you can declare your mission accomplished. Why do I call them the U Variables? Because they have everything to do with you. You must start with yourself in it, within your own profession and with your own money (or your skin in the game).

The U Variables

your profession

your own money

Like the G Variables, the U Variables must line up like the casino slot machine for you to win the grand prize. Going back to the Gates example in Outliers, he was in business, he spent more than 10,000 hours on his programming before he received his first contract (while still in high school), and he used his own money to start the business. If you're thinking about starting your first business, consider the U Variables. They will serve you well in the long run.

This is not to discourage anyone from starting a business in a profession she hasn't practiced. However, Gladwell posits that it takes 10,000 hours to gain an advantage in your profession. If you work 40 hours a week, that works out to about five years. Others in the corporate world say it can take as long as 10 years to reach that level.

The P Variables
The third set of variables enables you to consider successfully cashing out after the hard work of developing your business. Obviously, this is not part of Chinese culture. But again, the P Variables must all line up for you to receive the grand prize. The P Variables are: Pull Marketing; systematized Processes; predictable Profits and a Professional management team (or non-owner management team).

The P Variables

  • Pull Marketing
  • Systematized Processes (Maximized IP)
  • Predictable Profits
  • Professional Management team

Gates took Microsoft through an IPO, and it became one of the world's largest companies. He obviously had all the P Variables prior to the IPO. He successfully cashed out and realized his dream. The keyword here is "prior." Most business owners don't plan to fail but fail to plan.

In Stephen R. Covey's book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he talks about having an end in mind and planning around it. For the most part, entrepreneurs' "end in mind" is financial independence. In this monthly column we'll take you through how to get the P Variables to work in your favor so you can realize your dream.

The good news is that you, as a successful entrepreneur, have already implemented the G Variables and U Variables. Best of all, you have full control over the P Variables. But the secret of the P Variables hasn't been widely shared yet. My mentor, Rob Slee, founder of MidasNation, taught me about the P Variables.

Stay tuned and learn in upcoming columns how to apply P Variables as key value drivers for your business. It will help you greatly enhance your G.U.P. and ultimately realize your dream of financial independence.


Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; helps women entrepreneurs to convert their business into meaningful personal wealth.  She is the author of Show Me The Money and columnist for & Fox Business online.   She is available for consulting, speaking engagements and workshops.  She can be reached at or


Women Entrepreneur Magazine URL:

Fox Business online URL:


Copyright 2009 by, Inc.  All rights reserved.