Coping with the Emotional Impact of Selling Your Business

Published : 12 January 2015

One aspect of selling your business is rarely spoken about. Most guidebooks and articles focus on the strategy needed for a successful sale but few discuss the impact of handing your company to someone else.

Moving on and saying goodbye could be difficult, especially if you’ve dedicated years (or your entire life) to growing the business. Assessing the emotional consequences of selling your company and knowing how to handle those will help you make the most rational decisions that will ensure complete satisfaction with the sale.

Start Thinking about It Early Enough

Business owners that have an exit strategy don’t go through such a hard time while trying to sell their business.

The exit strategy envisions the best-case scenario for leaving the company. You should begin thinking about your exit strategy as soon as possible. Work on this plan, even if you don’t have intentions to sell the business in the next years.

Apart from getting you emotionally prepared for the business sale, the exit strategy will also help you determine your long-term plans. Basing strategic development decisions on this goal will give you focus and help you grow the company before attempting to find a buyer.

The Most Important Emotional Considerations

Your company is probably your baby and you have a strong emotional connection to it. As a result, you worry about the future and the direction that the new owner is going to take. These sentiments are natural but you should know how to manage them.

It’s typical for otherwise calm and reasonable people to become anxious and volatile during the business sale process. The “parental” approach towards exiting the business is irrational and it stands in the way of efficient communication.

Acknowledge these sentiments and accept them. Chances are that you’ll feel upset about selling your company but you can’t let these emotions interfere. You are a business person and an entrepreneur first and foremost. Separation anxiety can be handled in a productive way that isn’t going to interfere with the business sale and your negotiations with the top bidder.

Create Some Distance

Distancing yourself from the company and from everyday operations in advance will help you cope with the separation anxiety before selling the business.

If you are a decision maker or a director, you’ll need to retire and let your team take over. Alternatively, you should visit the office less frequently and enable your managers to do a bit more than they used to in the past.

Seeing that the company can go on without you may be disheartening in the beginning but it will help you rest assured that corporate growth and success will continue in the years to come.

Separating yourself from everyday business proceedings will enable you to focus on the negotiations and to act as a businessman rather than an emotional mom and dad. Distance gives you clarity and clarity will help you work on the best possible deal.

Handling the Business Sale Process Itself

The inclusion of third parties like attorneys and business valuators is essential for a successful business sale. In addition, such professionals can help you maintain focus and give you essential information.

A buyer may want you to remain involved as a manager, a supervisor or an advisor for a certain period of time after the sale. Are you open to this possibility and can you accept the responsibility? Prepare yourself for this scenario since it could potentially happen.

Finally, don’t be stubborn because of your emotions – this kind of behaviour is irrational and you know it. You don’t need to like the highest bidder, focus on the offer and the benefits you’ll be getting out of this corporate exit. Separating your sentiments from your business sense will be challenging in such situations but it’s imperative that you think strategically throughout the business sale.

Have Another Project to Work on

What happens after you sell your business? You’ll probably feel sucked into a vacuum – time will stop and you’ll be capable of enjoying leisure activities or even doing nothing. Come up with a new project before selling your company. Having something to keep you occupied will make the transition easier.

There’s no need to start a new business idea, though you’re free to pursue any kind of entrepreneurial activity. Becoming a volunteer or dedicating time to your family will also classify as great possibility for dealing with the post-business sale blues.

A business sale will test your strategic skills and your character strength. Though it may be challenging, you have to control your emotions. Preparing yourself for the process in advance is the best way to be a successful seller and to experience fulfilment in the end.