Emotional investment in your business cannot be easily overestimated.
Parting from your asset can be a wrench, even if it yields enough money for you to retire in luxury.
But are you even retiring? Or is it the thirst for a new challenge driving your thought to "sell my business"?
Perhaps instead you think the business's value is as high as it's ever going to be so it would be foolish not to sell.
The decision to sell a business is usually driven by personal circumstances, or issues related to the business, its market or the wider economy, or a mixture of both.
Before preparing your business for sale, you must be honest about why you are selling in the first place and ask yourself whether the reason is compelling enough. It's not uncommon for a vendor to accept an offer out of the blue and convince themselves that they're ready to move on when in reality the decision to sell is solely because the offer is too good to refuse.
That's not to say that there's anything wrong with selling for financial reasons - hey, this is business, you must be hard-headed - but being honest about your motivations can help you plan your next step.
What follows are the reasons for selling a business related to personal circumstances, and the dangers of making the wrong decision.
Are you retiring because you genuinely feel like you want to enjoy more leisure time and give up the stresses of business ownership now that you're getting older? Or is it simply because you've entered your 60s and you feel it's what you're supposed to do?
Don't underestimate the sense of loss you may feel, particularly if it's the latter. You need to decide how you're going to fill your free time post-sale, not to mention be realistic about the price you can achieve and assess whether this is sufficient to fund a comfortable retirement.
Perhaps you can sell the business but offer to remain in the business in a part-time advisory capacity. This can reassure the buyer that the transfer of ownership will go smoothly, helping you conclude a sale, while also allowing you to 'keep your hand in' without the stresses of full-time ownership.
Craving a new challenge
Sometimes 'a change is as good as a rest'. When you've been somewhere too long mental exhaustion and boredom can take their toll - on you and the business - and the impetus of a new owner, bringing new ideas and a fresh approach, can take it to the next level.
But acknowledging you've had enough is only one half of the equation. Consider your next step before you put the business up for sale.
If you're planning to switch sectors, perhaps consider an industry where your skills are to some degree transferable. For example sales skills are useful in most industries.
Your desire to carry on could remain undimmed, but your body's fragility necessitates otherwise. A serious illness can mean the seller needing to sell urgently and being forced to accept a lower price.
If circumstances allow, you can delegate control to your managers while you recover, although this will depend on how hands-on you are and how important your input is to the fortunes of the business.
A divorce decree sometimes orders spouses to liquidate equity interests to share the proceeds with their ex-spouse, unless other arrangements can be agreed. A husband and wife operation can be difficult to restructure when couples become estranged, often resulting in the sale of the business.
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