Three Emotional Barriers That Keep You from Selling Your Business

February 17, 2020Insights

How much money would it take for you to exit your business and leave it in the hands of someone else?

It’s a straightforward question, but one that often challenges business owners. A small handful might have a specific number in mind. The vast majority, however, deflect and pad their answers:

“It would depend…”

“What would that look like?”

Or, the most common response:

“I can’t do that. My business needs me!”

Assuming your business is salable, the sale price is not the likely sticking point for you in your exit. It’s the emotional aspect that we need to dissect and examine. The three most important factors that we owners struggle with over and over are:

 

1. Power

No matter how humble and gracious you are about your success, your business massages your ego in ways you may not realize. Your name is on the building. Everyone respects your leadership. You are responsible for your employees’ jobs and their families’ livelihoods. It’s a position of power that can be difficult to relinquish—not necessarily due to narcissism, but simply because it feels good to be the owner i.e. the one (at least in our own minds) responsible for all of the above. Walking away from that means being less needed, and the thought of no longer wearing the entrepreneur badge morphs into a false narrative of falling from grace into the life of an “average” person.

 

2. Control

Your business shields you from the monotony of everyday life, and, possibly, from dealing with important relationships, personal finances or your own health. When you are at work, you are in control. And just like power, control is addicting; the more you have, the more you want. It’s very nice to be able to tell other people to do the things you don’t want to do. You can’t take a vacation because your business requires your undivided attention to ensure a positive outcome. If you exit, the outcome—of both the business and, in your perception, your life—is out of your hands. That is a scary realization for many.

 

3. Porch Sitting

If you’re not running your business, what will you do all day? This is perhaps the most prevalent and, oftentimes, perplexing, question owners ask themselves. For example, a gentleman well past retirement age recently called us after his wife told him he should begin considering an exit from the multi-million-dollar company that he built and continues to put 60-hour weeks toward. He said he was ready as soon as we could find a buyer.

“What do you need to consider this a successful exit?” we asked. “Money?”

 “Nope,” he responded. “It’s not about the money. I just need something to do.”

This is precisely why the question of how much is so compelling. The money isn’t everything. You want to know what your exit means for you and how you will lead a fulfilling existence going forward. The thought of doing nothing all day haunts you. It’s in your DNA to seek and conquer challenges. We’re the same way, and can promise you this:

Exiting your business does not relegate you to a rocking chair.

You can start a new business or become a professional service provider. You can monetize a hobby. Local and large organizations alike would love to have you as a board member. Dare we suggest working part-time as an employee? There are countless ways to remain active and in business without the adrenaline rush of power and control. Exit Engineering is about finding your win; about you having more in your life than work. We are here to help you through it.