Archive for November 20th, 2013

Tips for keeping a level head when selling your business

Curtis Kroeker, Partner Contributor and Group General Manager for BizBuySell.com and BizQuest


Image provided by ThinkStock (Jacob Wackerhausen)

There are many things to consider before selling your business, such as scoping out the for-sale market and finding the right time to exit.
While most business owners have put significant thought into those more tangible aspects of selling their company, some overlook the most difficult part of the selling process — the emotional distress that parting with their business can bring.

Selling a business can without a doubt be an emotional and even painful experience. However, if you are selling, you likely have a reason for doing so, and negative emotions will hijack the success of the sale. It is important to follow the tips below to keep a level head in the process.

Prepare a comprehensive exit strategy

Just as any event or situation can be negatively impacted by emotional baggage, so too can the profitable and timely sale of a business be jeopardized by intense feelings of owner unease.

The best thing to do to appease those feelings will be to prepare a comprehensive exit strategy long before the upending sale.

Part of this plan should include seriously considering future plans. In not doing so, you leave more room for your emotions to threaten the sale. Include your family in this process, especially if you have managed the business for a number of years.

It will likely be just as important for them to get accustomed with the idea of a different owner.

Consult with others

It is critical that you remain focused on your operation until it is officially sold, but doing so during the sales process can take a major emotional and physical toll.

The best way to refute that is to consult with professionals (brokers, attorneys, accountants, etc.) during the process to undertake various seller functions. Professionals bring objectivity to the business that you might not be able to during the emotional sales process.

While professionals make the best colleagues, your peers will have thoughtful and likely personal opinions to bring to the table, which can help you assess how you want to move forward in the sale. Trusting members of your peer network and seeking advice about their experiences will allow you to lighten your emotional load and see the sale with a refreshed perspective.

Continue with the business or move on

One of the most important things you should do during the sales process is to continue putting 100 percent effort into its success until it has been officially signed over to the new owners. Forgoing this step might result in dropped deals during due diligence.

However, if you aren’t planning on continuing with the business — or if the new owner has not expressed interest in your staying on board — then it might be a bad idea to check in on the business post-sale. While it might be difficult to accept, the buyers have the legal right to make changes to the business — even if you don’t agree with them.

The same goes for speaking to former employees about the “new” business, especially in social situations. Questioning the new owner and his practices will only demean their new boss’s credibility and, in addition, your former employees’ connection with the company.

Determine your future plan

Conversely, if the buyer does express an interest in you staying with the company for a few months in order to more easily transition the business, you should think carefully about the role you want to play.

If you feel that in doing so you will create more emotional distress, you will most likely be unable to perform your duties in a professional manner. By determining what you can handle long before the final papers are signed, you will have given yourself time to either move on or disconnect yourself enough to assist the new owner on a consulting basis.

Managing the emotional toll of a sale is not simple, but the bottom line is that you have to move on. While the emotions are real, it is time for you to look forward and embrace what the next stage of your life might bring.

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