Selling your business can be overwhelming
For many business owners, selling a business carries with it the perception of being overwhelming and complex. Of course, business owners want to sell their asset and enjoy the quality time they’ve earned from their toil. Yet for all that, there are inevitably issues that a business owner will face when it comes to transitioning from ownership. These can be of both a personal and business nature – and will likely include some financial, taxation, legal and insurance requirements be fulfilled.
My experience has shown me that – quite often – the personal transition plan of the business owner is often overlooked in the rush to address the business requirements of the business sale. Ignoring the human side of concluding a part of your identity – i.e. your role as a business person – has its own set of consequences.
We have all heard stories of owners who sold their businesses and retired, and after a few months became bored and depressed. This mostly occurs as a result of failing to plan for the transition from business owner to life after business.
You are NOT your business
Although no owner sets out to make the business his life, a business owner can easily become consumed by his work. This transition happens over a period of time – especially when you enjoy running your business and you are good at it. After a while, it becomes hard to image what you would do with your life if you didn’t go to work.
This reliance on the business as your identity leads to multiple personal fears that manifest when it comes time to consider leaving your business. Worries can fix on the fear of the unknown, the potential loss of social status or identity associated with the business, and the fear of a directionless new life.
If these fears are left unaddressed to fester, they can have a negative impact on the success of a business sale. A fearful owner who isn’t ready to forge a new post-business life simply won’t be 100% committed to sale as a result of their fears. My advice for a successful transition? Address these fears in your plan for life after business.
Planning is KEY to a successful ‘Life After Business’
I work with business owners to develop their personal transition plans. What’s that, you ask? A personal transition plan gives the owner an opportunity to plan a new course, to imagine their lives in a different light. It opens up the possibility of fresh sources of fulfillment by carefully plotting the steps required to achieve their new active life – free of the heavy responsibilities of running a business.
The process begins by acknowledging the many successful transitions that you have managed already during your lifetime. These include: going to school, setting up your own home, going to work, getting married and starting your family, and beginning your business.
It is critical to ensure that you take time to consider the new opportunities awaiting you in a life after business. Your retirement may stretch across decades – so design a meaningful and fulfilling new life to match.
In my experience, the 7 key considerations that should be actioned in your personal transition plan are:
- Taking time to recharge your batteries, to rest and contemplate
- Reinvigorating your relationships with family and friends
- Undertaking fulfilling activities that match your interests such as joining a team and undertaking hobbies
- Energizing your mind by studying and learning new skills
- Giving back to society by undertaking volunteer work or getting involved in community events
- Keeping fit by exercising regularly
- Travelling to places you have always wanted to visit
A business sale can be overwhelming and complex. It can be doubly so if you don’t take your emotional response to a life-change into account. Don’t forget about your personal needs when you sell your business – as they are the key to your long term happiness.