If you’ve never sold a business before, you might think of selling your business as a purely financial decision. After all, it’s all about the money and savvy negotiations, right? That’s only part of the story. Emotional considerations can subtly influence your decision making, and may even tank the deal at the outset. Acknowledging your emotions is critical to manage them, so don’t insist you have no feelings about parting ways with a company you’ve poured so much of yourself into. Then embrace these strategies for managing your emotions.
Know Your Reasons
Selling your business is not a decision you can make on a whim. There must be a clear motive beyond urgency or panic. Make a list of your specific reasons for selling, since these motivations should color the process. If you find yourself rushing, panicking, or losing sight of these motives, it may be time to consider whether you’re truly ready to sell.
Hire a Team You Trust
You are the expert on your company, so ceding control to anyone else can feel daunting, especially if you have a background in sales. But don’t go it alone. You need a team of advisors who can help you set reasonable expectations while supporting you throughout the sale process. Your team is especially important during the valuation process, and they can also lend credibility during the negotiation process.
Make the Decisions Yourself
Sellers must be direct about their desires, and decisive when they make a decision. While it’s important to rely on your team, don’t outsource decisions to them. Don’t put your emotions on display, or make it clear that the other side can easily manipulate them. You’re the decision-maker, so act like it. That includes outsourcing daily work to others and not micromanaging every aspect of the deal. Focus on the big picture and major decisions, and you’ll inevitably get a better outcome.
Know the Buy-Side Process
Sales don’t happen overnight. The buyer must dig through a mass of documentation to assess whether they’re comfortable taking the reins of your company. You will have less stress if you plan for and anticipate this. Remember that buyers are risk-averse, and want to know what they are getting, so the more you can do in service of that goal, the more quickly the process will likely proceed.
Empathize With the Buyer
Empathy is the ability to see and understand the perspective of another person, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it. Seeing things from the buyer’s perspective can help you anticipate their next move. Consider asking yourself whether you would buy your own business, and how good the financial return is likely to be. Then weigh your own role in that decision. Do you present as a trustworthy buyer? Are you forthcoming with information? If not, the buyer may soon lose both trust and interest.