Selling a business is a major, and potentially highly emotional, undertaking. If you’ve built the business from the ground up or spent much of your career running it, separating from your company might be harder than you expect—even if there’s a big payout at the end of the sale. Your emotional attachment to your business could undermine the sale, especially if it causes you to adopt an unreasonable position during negotiations or to needlessly drag out the sale process. Here are five steps to take to ensure you’re emotionally ready to sell your company.
Develop a Comprehensive Exit Plan
A business exit isn’t something you can do overnight, or with a haphazard plan. A comprehensive exit plan should guide each step on the journey—including the steps you take after you leave. Developing an exit plan helps set reasonable expectations, and ensures your emotions will not get in the way of a successful sale.
Identify the Role the Company Plays in Your Identity
For most entrepreneurs, the company is an integral part of their identity—and perhaps even their entire identity. Understanding the role the company plays in your identity can help you cultivate new interests. For example, if the company helps you feel like you’re making a difference in the world, you might replace that role with volunteer work.
Cultivate New Interests
If you want to have a fulfilling post-business existence, something must fill the role your company played in your life. You’ll need something to look forward to after retirement, as well as activities that help you feel the same sense of purpose and value that you once got from your business. Start planning your post-business leisure time now.
Build a Team of Trusted Advisors
A business sale is not something you should try on your own. You need a skilled team of advisors you can trust. Not only will your advisors help you navigate the challenging process; they can also help you weather the emotional storms, and reassure you that whatever you are feeling is normal and understandable. When you have thoughtful, experienced people supporting the transition, it can all feel a bit less daunting.
Seek Out Resources
You’re not the only business owner who has struggled with transitioning out of company ownership. A therapist can help you talk through your unique issues, and manage any sudden challenges that appear. You may also find great support through peer mentorship and support groups such as Tiger 21 or Evolve. Some owners find that they can replace the role of a business in their life by finding another avenue to perform and get feedback, such as by joining a local Toastmasters group.