Selling a company is often the single most important business decision in an entrepreneur’s life. The enormous amount of time, energy and resources spent developing a business can make the idea of giving up control hard, and the process can be an emotional roller coaster.
The key to conquering those emotions is preparation.
Just like starting with the smaller roller coaster before riding the large one with the big drop, there are many steps you can take to prepare yourself for what is to come
1. Establish your Motive
Make a list of reasons why you are selling your business. Outline the possible opportunities that could result from the sale. Share this list with employees, family members and friends and seek their feedback. Keep this list with you throughout the entire deal process.
2. Have the Right Mindset
Make sure you are committed to the sale. Reaching the right “Seller’s Mindset” is crucial if you want to find the ideal buyer. Owners that have a clear understanding of why they want to sell will be better prepared to handle the speed bumps that can come during the sale process.
3. Accept that Changes will Come
After establishing why you’re selling and what you expect the sale to bring, understand that changes will likely result from the sale – some good, some bad and some okay.
The good results are easy to point out: no more financial or personal pressure, less stress, richer personal bank account, more free time to pursue other challenges or maybe a short consulting gig or board seat before you “ride off into the sunset” (if you haven’t already).
4. Be Prepared for a Whirlwind of Emotions
As you near a final sale you will likely encounter emotional responses. Addressing these triggers in advance will make the process go smoother.
- Is this the right thing to do?
- What about my family’s legacy with the business?
- Will the new owner respect my company’s place in our community?
- Do I like the new potential owners? Will my employees?
- What will I do after the deal closes?
As logical as the deal may look on paper, you may be surprised at how some of these emotional questions become paramount when the goal line is in sight. Make sure everyone involved in your business has considered these questions.
5. Create a Support System
Find someone else who has gone through the sale process, and talk to them about how they got through it. This could even be your M&A advisor. I built and exited four businesses on my own. I know the emotional journey a business owner undergoes when deciding to sell their company.
6. Give yourself a new Framework for your Goals and Aspirations
Make it a plan to rediscover what you truly enjoy doing.Whether it’s hobbies, volunteering, traveling, or even the work that you currently do, where there’s a passion, there’s a future. Find the time to explore that passion.
Getting over the emotional hurdles that business owners typically face when they sell can be challenging, but if you are well prepared it will be easier. Keep in mind, an experienced M&A advisor will guide you through the emotional journey and be with you every step of the way.
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