It can be stressful selling your business; letting go and ceding control to a new owner can be an emotional experience. During the sale process, things can be intense with you and your team having to answer difficult questions and provide lots of information.
On more than one occasion in the last few weeks, I have had to take the heat out of the situation to ensure a smooth handover. So, how do you prepare, firstly accept that it could well be emotional selling your business and try not to take things buyers and their representatives personally; they are just doing their job, and buying your business could represent a significant risk for them and the pressure to make the right acquisition could be very stressful to them.
Recently I started keeping bees and having bees buzzing around my face when I am inspecting the hive could be a bit daunting, but I wear a beekeeper’s suit and am very careful not to harm any bees, so what could be stressful, is actually very rewarding because I prepare appropriately. The same could be true for selling your business. I am just advocating that those who embark on the journey do so with their eyes open and prepare for your sale and a journey that may be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.
Some of the steps you can take to make your journey to selling your business smoother: – Plan well ahead, make sure your business is fit to sell * Is profitable with good cashflow * Demonstrates growth and has a good level of recurring sales * Has a strong management structure and workforce * All contracts and legal paperwork are up to date * All accounts and documentation are up to date – Ensure all shareholders are in agreement that they want to sell – Choose good advisors (commercial lawyer, accountant, and broker)and ensure your focus remains on the business – Make sure you have a strong personal support network around you to help you de-stress and maintain your sense of humour.
On more than one occasion I have written about making a plan to get your business into a fit state to sell. Having a well-run growing cash generative company with a strong recurring revenue and management team in place puts owners in a good position to sell.
Not all owners have a plan in place for themselves once they have vacated the hot seat in their former business. Busy entrepreneurs tend not to be good at being idle for too long and no matter how appealing lying on a sun-kissed beach seems in the build-up to the sale, they soon get bored applying the suntan lotion. I have had clients who want to go and visit family members across the globe, others who want to tinker with classic cars, and others who want to start another business after they sell. I have also seen owners sell up and move to a dream location only to return after a couple of years and start again.
It pays to start preparing your personal path ahead of finding yourself drinking sundowners in a far-flung beach paradise twiddling your thumbs. It may be beneficial to start developing interests and activities that you can continue when you are no longer at the helm. For some the lure of improving their golf handicap may be the dream, for others, it could be taking on non-exec director roles and helping other entrepreneurs drive their performance. As a farmer’s son I have begun to nurture my garden (in a vain hope that I have inherited my father’s green fingers), most recently I have created a vegetable patch and apiary, it certainly gives me pleasure, whether it yields bountiful harvests is yet to be determined; I know it won’t keep me fully occupied once I eventually decide to hang up my coat, but I do believe it will be something I can draw continuity from, in what will be a period of transition in my life.