Not long ago, a former client shared with me his thoughts for someone considering the sale of his or her business. His advice: Think about what happens after the sale.
I probed a little deeper as to what he meant. It wasn’t the common issue of how long you may have to stay involved with the business after the sale. What he meant was to think about what it means to go from being the CEO of a successful business to either being retired or starting a new venture from scratch.
Of course, he is right. Any business owner who sells his or her business is going to experience a dramatic change. The most important decision you may make in a typical day is going to change. Right now, it might be dealing with a challenging employee, negotiating a client service agreement or making a high-level strategy decision. After the sale, there is a chance it will be where to have lunch.
Perhaps a majority of business sellers have at least some regrets about having sold their businesses. If you do not have a plan for what is next, the odds are you will have considerably more regret over completing the sale, even though you know (or knew) that it was the right thing to do. The business sellers who navigate these emotions most successfully have a plan and know what is next for them, whether it is a new business start-up, a new career, community activities, family commitments, etc.
There is nothing wrong with first thing after completing your obligations in a business sale being a vacation. It may be the first one you have really taken in many years. It might even be an unusually long one. Think sabbatical. But for almost all of us, vacations and sabbaticals do come to an end.
If you find yourself selling your business without knowing your next step, maybe a sabbatical, one purpose of which is to consider your options, is the best idea. Better yet, think about taking that vacation or sabbatical before you make the decision to sell your business.
The most successful business sellers I know are the ones that had a concept of what was next. For several, it has been starting new ventures. For others, it has been launching a new career (two people I have represented in business sales have become ministers, for example). Still others have favored nonprofit activities they either wanted to participate in or give leadership to.
I don’t remember a single client who successfully transitioned from being a CEO to watching The Price is Right every day.
Planning your exit strat
egy can be a complicated process. It takes time, energy and reflection, but the effort devoted to the process will greatly increase the chances of making a successful transition. As you build your exit plan,
If you are ready to focus on developing your exit strategy or are ready to begin the process of selling your business, contact us. We can help you get started.don’t forget to include addressing the question. “What comes next?”
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