Letting go and moving on is always difficult. It means that you need to free yourself from some aspects of your past. But when it comes to selling or winding down your business, it combines with many factors like fear, loss, grief, regret, stress, and many others. This is more than a business transaction!
For an entrepreneur, your business is the baby that you built from the ground up. Exiting your business means leaving something that may have become a part of your identity and is a big part of who you are today. Whether you are exiting your business or transferring it to the next generation, it leads to a lot of emotion. You may experience fear or anxiety of the change in your life along with excitement for what the future holds for you.
This transition affects both the owner and the employees, especially in small companies where some roles may be filled by family members. Or some relationships go beyond professional relationships.
Exiting your business is a long process and not a one-day event. In addition to preparing financial reports and organizing documents and other information, it is important to prepare yourself emotionally for the transfer of ownership and begin the process years (one or two) before you think you will exit the business.
Here are three tips to prepare yourself emotionally for exiting your business:
Accept that it will be a reinvention process; personally and professionally
Exiting your business may be a pinnacle of your career, but the emotional experience is the same as other major life events such as getting married, retiring, or moving. Make sure you consciously accept that this will be a transition and reinvention, and getting back into “flow” may take much more time than expected. Accept that mourning and drift are a part of life. Do the research and learn about different people’s experiences who have gone through the process. If you know someone who has experienced this process, grab that cup of coffee and ask them about their experience and the impact it had on them.
Plan something for the first six months that you can look forward to
It is understandable to be consumed with running your business while trying to sell the business at the same time. It leaves little room for much else. That said, it is important to develop a simple plan for the first six months following your exit. Plan a trip you are delaying for months, join a health club or community organization you always wanted to join, or plan a special dinner or event with your family. Use this time away from work and explore new opportunities.
Develop an exit plan to help out your mind as ease that you know what to do and expect
Unfortunately, 80% of owners are not ready and have no exit plan, and this creates uncertainty and anxiety trying to manage the numerous tasks associated with exiting your business. Like other parts of your life, a bit of planning ahead can reduce these negative feelings. Ideally, you should begin the planning a year or two prior to when you intend to transfer or sell the business. If you work on a plan 30 to 60 days in advance can be a great help. Careful planning before a business ownership transfer, with attention to the emotional impact, can help remove second thoughts and make the transfer a smooth process.
ExitGuide simplifies the exit process for small business owners. We empower you to drive the right exit strategy for your business now or in the future. ExitGuide support a variety of exit paths, including:
- Sale of a business.
- Handing the business to the next generation or a family member.
- Selling the business to the employees or
- Selling the assets and shutting down the business entity.
We follow client-centered strategies and focus on the “process” of exiting your business. ExitGuide will make a specific strategy that suits your requirements best. We are with you every step of the way. We help owners from the first step to the last step by answering basic questions about the process, helping you develop a specific plan according to your needs and circumstances, and then connecting you with expert resources for guiding you to a successful outcome.