Ever have days where you wish you could just sell your business? Cash out and escape it for good?
Like when your third operations manager in a row quits and you have to jump back into running the day-to-day. Or maybe it’s when your most talented employee quits and goes to work for the competition.
Or when you’re up past midnight working on another complicated proposal that only you can do.
But there are two important truths about selling your business you need to know first:
Truth 1: The “relationship” you have with your business affects its value.
Your thoughts and feelings about yourself, your team, your clients and your solutions are what define this relationship.
If you want to sell because you can’t keep up the pace and you’re feeling exhausted and burned out, it means your relationship with your business is unhealthy.
Think of it like a house built on a toxic waste site. No one wants it. You may even have a hard time giving it away.
The way you think and feel about your business affects how you run it and how potential buyers perceive it. If you really want to sell your business, the way to get the best offer is to fall back in love with it first.
Why does this matter? Because no buyer wants to pay top dollar for a company when it’s obvious the owner is burned out. They’ll wonder why they should buy it at all if it took the life out of you.
If your business makes you feel frustrated, exhausted and overwhelmed, it’s a sure sign that it can’t run without you. This is a bad thing for so many reasons. It steals your life away and limits your growth.
It also decreases the value of your business. A buyer wants to be sure that the business will run profitably WITHOUT you – otherwise they’ll insist that you stay on for a few years in what is called an “earn out.”
This is where they only pay you a portion of the sale price at closing and you have to literally earn the rest of it by working in the business for the next few years. Not an appealing prospect for most of us as business owners.
The solution is to clean up your business before you put it on the market, just like you’d clean up a house. Systematize and train your team to run your business without you. This is how you prove to buyers that your business is an asset, not a job. (No one wants to buy a job.)
Truth 2: Selling your business takes longer than you think.
It’s kind of like living in a house during major renovations. It’s disruptive. Chaotic. Things go wrong. There are lots of expensive “surprises” and delays.
If the reason you want to sell is because you’re desperate to escape and full of resentment about how much time and energy your business takes from you, then you’ll have a hard time sustaining your energy through the sales process.
The way you feel when you start the process will influence the way you feel throughout the process. And THAT affects both how long it takes and how much money you’ll get in the end.
One of the hardest things about selling your business is the effort it takes to continue to grow it while at the same time trying to sell it. It’s easy to get excited by the prospect of a sale or distracted by all the details and paperwork.
When you’re distracted, your sales may slow because you’re not spending as much time marketing and selling. Your team starts to disconnect because you feel guilty about your plans to sell so you avoid them. Quality suffers because you can’t focus. You feel inauthentic when you meet with clients because you’re hiding something.
The solution is to clean up your mind before taking action.
So that you start feeling clear, confident and focused now. So that you can actually enjoy the process of growing (and possibly selling) your business.
The way to do this is to fall back in love with your business. When you love something, you appreciate it and you feel connected to it. You don’t try to run away from it, you spend time with it. You look for the good.
Just like you can love the house you grew up in and still not want to live there as an adult, you can love your business and still decide to sell it. But love it first.
Start by taking an inventory.
Take a look at your thoughts about yourself, your clients, your team and your solutions. Do you have thoughts like these?
Yourself: “You don’t know what you’re doing. You should be a better leader. You should try even harder.”
Your clients: “They always change their mind and want more from us. It’s frustrating when they pay late.”
Your team: “Why can’t they do it right? Do I have to do everything myself?”
Your solutions: “I’m tired of it. It’s not even interesting anymore and there’s too much competition.”
Notice how these thoughts make you FEEL: inadequate, frustrated, worried, exhausted. It matters because feelings are the fuel for your actions. You want to feel energized to make the changes to your business that will allow you to scale it (whether or not you decide to sell) and feel great at the same time.
Intentionally direct your mind to choose new thoughts.
Focus on and amplify what you already love about your business. After all, it’s a part of you. If you’re like me, you built it from nothing.
Appreciate yourself for the courage. Appreciate your clients for their trust. Appreciate your team for their efforts and their belief in you. Appreciate your solutions for adding value to the world.
Then take the strategic actions to increase the value of your business by narrowing your niche so that you’re differentiated, turning services into solutions that you market like products, and build a team to scale and run the business without you.
But take these actions after you learn to manage your mind. Otherwise you’ll waste a lot of time because the way you think directly affects how you feel and your feelings are the fuel for your actions.
Once I fell back in love with my business, I had what I needed most: energy and focus. That’s what allowed me to have what I really wanted most: freedom and choices. I could scale my business, hire someone to run it for me, or sell it.
When you love your business, something amazing happens – other people love it too. That’s what happened to me. I had multiple offers and was able to exit for the price and terms I wanted.
But long before the sale was final, the business was running so well I could have also decided to keep it. It was my choice. The same can be true for you. And it all starts with the decision to love your business first.