If I Sell My Business, Then I…
by Paul Cronin
Have you ever started a sentence that way? Selling a business is the goal (or dream) of many business owners, but then what? In other words, what is the purpose of selling your business?
I read a great article in the Harvard Business Review about company versus customer purpose, and thought I’d share an exercise that business owners (and business buyers) could enjoy.
Imagine that you are thinking “it may be time to sell my business”. Next, get a sheet of paper and pen (or a laptop if you prefer) and find a quiet place to think. Then start a paragraph with this sentence and free-form any thoughts that follow. Here are some suggestions:
If I sell my business, then I…
“will have enough money to retire”
“will finally get in shape”
“will volunteer at my church/temple/mosque”
“will see my grown children more often”
“will work part-time here and mentor younger workers”
“will help my daughter by watching my grand kids a day or two a week”
“will learn to play the guitar”
“will (fill in the blank)
Of course, there are downsides to consider as well.
I am sure you have heard of (or know of), owners who sold and things did not go well. It is wise to think through those scenarios (if only to learn how to avoid them), such as
“pay way more taxes than I thought”
“have to work for a boss (the buyer) for longer than I care for”
“may be bored out of mind”
“may burn through the cash” (because that is what I do now)
“may spend a little too much time at my favorite watering hole”
“may start a new business (and go back into debt)”
With these sentences, you are starting to write a story of the next chapter of your business and life. Stories are how we learn best.
How to do this better
One way to avoid the outcomes (the “then I will” statements) that are negative, and increase the likelihood of the positive outcomes is to think deeply about your future before you start to sell your business. In other words, use a process of thinking to get better results. One place to start is with The What’s Next? Self-Assessment
Paul Cronin is founder of The Platinum Years Company and Director of Sales for SuccessionMatching an online platform serving a community of people that are selling or buying a business. Reach Paul at 781-590-5216 or paul @ successionmatching . com