Exiting your business is a life milestone, experience, and transition all at once. If you’re selling the business, the transaction brings ups, downs, twists, and turns that will throw you for a loop no matter how calm and confident you may be. Many professionals will be involved, including attorneys, accountants, financial advisors, business advisors, and brokers. They will ask many questions and make comments that will cause you to have conflicting thoughts. Before you get started, you need to know what it takes—first to rise to the occasion, and then settle in, see it through, and achieve your Win.
We need to prepare your business for the sale and your mind for the exit. One is operational. The other is emotional. Both are equally important.
Preparing your business boils down to positioning it to stand on its own so a buyer can run and grow the business without you. Read more about business readiness. As tedious and time-consuming as preparing the business can be, preparing yourself emotionally may prove to be a much bigger challenge. See how we assess owner readiness.
We all know there are things we can’t control, in business and in life. A business transaction is one of those things. You’re probably squirming in your seat as we speak. Let that anxiety burn and learn to live with it, because even if it feels like you’re in control and you’ve done everything right, there are aspects of the transaction that are unpredictable, including the outcome. There’s peace and perspective in recognizing that total control of the transaction does not exist.
The transaction is a game of negotiation. The entire premise is that someone is judging your company. You cannot take things personally. You must keep your cool and remember that it’s just business. There will be roadblocks. Some of them may lead you to question everything. Stay focused and keep going. Take your time, maintain your poise, and make level-headed decisions. You’ve already flexed your ability to focus in growing your business and now you just need to apply that to navigating the transaction.
Compartmentalization is one of the most essential and powerful tools a business owner needs to succeed. Under pressure, it becomes a survival skill. As focused as you need to be, your mind also needs breaks to recharge. Have a personal life. Be present with your family. Take time to do the things that fill your battery and don’t let business constantly seep into every hour of every day. The exit ups the ante of your work life, so recovery is more important than ever to sustain that elevated energy in a healthy way and avoid burnout.
The ultimate difference-maker during the transaction is your attitude—how you view things, how you hear things, and how you respond to them. For all the grit that you have as a business owner, “keep a positive attitude” may feel like a fluffy parting message. But it’s the ultimate show of strength, resilience, and discipline to keep being positive under pressure. It’ll make for a more gratifying exit experience for you, your family, and even your employees.
By John Ovrom, President & CEO, Exit Consulting Group