You are thinking about selling your business. You may have uncertainty, angst, worries, trepidation, fear, unknowns, and sleeplessness nights. I believe you are not alone.
My approach as a business broker in Florida is from a perspective of a former long term business owner. I truly feel some of the feelings I experienced as a business owner are very similar or the same of the business owners I work with as a business broker. While at this stage of my professional life I am “sitting on the other side of the desk” I feel I do understand the concerns, fears, thoughts of the person on the other side of the desk.
There are many qualified experienced business brokers that are not former business owners and these quality brokers bring various valuable perspectives and experiences that benefit their clients. My choice to pursue my “2nd career” as a business broker comes from my recognition as a business owner of the value a business broker can bring.
- If I sell my business Do I have enough to retire?
- What will I do after I sell my business.?
- What will happen to my employees?
- What will I sell my business for? Is it enough?
- How do I handle all the “little situations” that are part of most any business prior to selling my business?
Does the business owner considering the sale of their business that they were involved from the beginning/day one of the business differ from business owners that had bought an existing business?- Of this I am not sure but somewhat curious if there is a difference.
While it is awkward for me to share personal thoughts in such a public forum, possibly some of my experiences may help others in this very important decision. Some of my thoughts and experiences:
- I had felt that the decision to sell my business was equally as difficult as the process of trying to sell the business. But selling a business is a difficult process.
- I had made the decision that if I wanted to sell the business that I would do it under my timeframe, (and when I was mentally ready to sell my business) and not wait until a situation or market or business conditions forced me to sell the business. This decision may have had me miss an opportunity to sell at a higher multiple in the late 1990’s when acquisition values where higher inside my industry, but mentally I was not ready to sell at that point.
- My CPA (accountant) that was a very close advisor to me would always say regarding the sale of the business- “You will know when you are ready”. I believe in this statement and it did apply to me.
- While going thru the process of selling the business, I always ran the business as if the deal would not consummate. I dont believe you ever really know a sale will occur until signatures are had at the closing table. Even at the closing table on late Friday afternoon, I was still thinking of things I would need to be doing Monday as if I were to remain the business owner. Habits are hard to break and it seemed prudent.
- Maybe the proceeds from the sale of your business will allow you to comfortably retire and do nothing. Maybe the sale of your business will give you a little extra cash to save or spend on something you want. Maybe you dont know if the proceeds from the sale of your business is enough “to retire on”, but possibly its enough to allow you to choose an activity, 2nd career, or even work for someone else without the need to solely rely on this decision as your sole source of income. This can be a very comfortable position.
I have shared with a few others that after the sale of my business of 20 years I experienced a feeling that was very foreign to me that caught me by surprise, and is kind of difficult to describe. When my business was sold what I was really selling was my responsibility. As all business owners know – you are responsible for everything. If an employee makes a mistake at work, it is your responsibility. If sales goes down, it is your responsibility. If expenses, taxes, fees, regulations increase it is your responsibility.
After the sale of the business while on the airplane flying home I experienced a difference that almost seemed inside me at a “cellular level”. The concerns I had for my 20 plus employees and 5000+ customers that I carried with me for 20 years were gone. I felt I had done my due diligence, worked closely with my CPA, attorney and advisors, found the right buyer to address my goals as a seller and I was leaving my former employees, customers, and responsibilities in good hands.
I certainly did not absolve myself of all my responsibilities, and recognized problems could still surface, but I did experience a feeling I hadn’t had in 20 years.
Image by mikecco.