How to Deal with Seller’s Remorse after Finding a Buyer for Your Business

Published : 1 May 2015

Remorse is a common emotion among business owners that have decided to sell their company. Whether you have a small organic food shop or you’re the manager of a large corporation, seller’s remorse is likely to occur, especially if you’ve invested years in business development.

Dealing with this negative sensation is essential for enjoying your exit and making the most of the upcoming sale. To figure out how to deal with the sentiment, however, you have to understand what the most common causes of seller’s remorse are.

The Common Causes of Remorse

Before addressing the emotion itself, you have to figure out why you’re experiencing such negative sentiments. Seller’s remorse is typically caused by one of the following:

  • Your identity is based on your business success: you think that you’re going to lose self-worth once you sell the business. Learning how to base your identity on personal rather than professional successes will be essential.
  • You’re still passionate about the company and its development: and you can’t imagine somebody else doing the work instead of you.
  • You don’t know what to do with your life after the sale: this is a very common problem for individuals that have been very active professionally. Finding a new goal and making the adjustment will require both time and a conscious effort on your behalf.

Decide What You Want to do Next

It’s very important to have an action plan, even if you want to retire after selling your business.

Many company owners find themselves sucked into a vacuum after selling the business. They no longer have the company defining their identity and occupying most of the day. As a result, the novelty of being free from a job wears off quickly and leads to boredom (and yes, to feelings of remorse).

Decide what you’re going to do after selling the business. A brand new goal, whether personal or professional, will make you look forward to the sale. It will give you the motivation to find a buyer quickly and move on with your life.

The Financial Aspects of Selling Your Business

Seller’s remorse may also be connected to more practical notions like the price at which the company is going to be sold.

Some sellers may worry whether they’re being offered too little and whether the money’s going to be enough to secure their future. Working with a financial advisor and having the company valuated before the sale are both good options for handling money-related seller’s remorse.

You need to have a very accurate idea about the amount you’re going to get in the end of the process. This is the “clean” sum you’ll get after taxes, fees and other payments. It’s imperative to do the calculations in advance.

Don’t Worry about the Future of Your Employees

For many business owners, the company’s team is a second family. Seller’s remorse could sometimes stem from worries about the future of the employees.

To deal with this potential cause of remorse, talk to the buyer and clarify such issues. There should be clauses ensuring the long-term safety of your current workers. You may also think of a bonus system to put in place during the transition.

Remember that your best and most-skilled employees will keep on finding growth opportunities, even after you leave. It’s a good idea to direct a portion of the business sale money to these best performers but there’s no need to spend months and months worrying about their future.

Anxiety about the New Managers

Some business founders and owners feel remorse because they worry that nobody else will be capable of running the company like them. In most cases, this is true. New management, however, is certainly not a bad thing.

It’s possible for the new owner to ask for your input during the transition process. This is another important business sale element to talk about. You may also come up with a list of requirements for the potential buyer. Finding a person having the passion and the qualifications can help you rest assured that your company is in good hands.

Finally, remember that the current management team is continuing its work. These people know what it takes to grow the business and ensure its success.

Seller’s remorse is a very common phenomenon. Don’t worry about those feelings. Instead of allowing the sadness and anxiety to consume your life, think about the factors that are contributing to these negative sensations. If you know what the root of the problem is, you can easily discover the most adequate solution.