After being a business owner for many years, most of our clients are initially relieved to retire. Time and time again, our clients who are near retirement share dreams of traveling, spending time with grandchildren and great grandchildren, fishing, reading, learning a new hobby, and every other kind of cliché retirement activity you can imagine. And, in theory, this is a great plan. You have worked hard all of your life; it’s time to slow down and relax.
The problem with this plan is many entrepreneurs do not know how to “do nothing”, or simply relax. Many clients, the same ones who were excited at the idea of retiring, become stressed and overwhelmed once a buyer puts an offer on the table for their business. As we discuss the details of the finalizing the sale, we have several clients ask us “now what”? Then, when the sale is complete and they are officially “retired”, they go off to do all the glorious things they imagined. The hitch is, most are not going to spend the rest of their lives traveling or playing with the grandkids. A year into retirement (oftentimes even less) the entrepreneur is looking for something else to do with their time. Many of our clients even come back asking to play a role in their old business!
Most entrepreneurs are go-getters. They need something to do with their time, be it a hobby, a new job, a role in a charitable organization, or something that will give them a purpose. Once their business is sold, so many entrepreneurs find that what they once thought would be their dream or retirement, turns out to be the thing they resent. Other entrepreneurs become so stressed during closing, because they realize they will have nothing to do once the business sells, they often delay the sale or even back out entirely! This is because of the anxiety they get at the thought of doing nothing after a lifetime of work.
Other entrepreneurs become so stressed during closing, because they realize they will have nothing to do once the business sells, they often delay the sale or even back out entirely! This is because of the anxiety they get at the thought of doing nothing after a lifetime of work.
Luckily, there are ways to calm your nerves when selling your business. First, you need to realize that what happens after you sell your business needs to be planned just as much as the sale itself. You would not sell your house without knowing where you will be moving to. The same principle applies here: why would you sell your business without having a detailed plan about what you will do next. Answering “I will be retired” is not enough. You need to direct your energy towards a new passion. If you are currently preparing to sell your business and are not sure what you will do next or you plan to just retire, I challenge you to spend some time answering this question: “What do I want to accomplish over the next 5, 10, 15 years.” Writing down your short term goals (traveling, visiting family) and long term goals (learning a new language, starting a not for profit) will help you feel less overwhelmed as you get closer to selling your business. You can even gather information now about the different things you would like to accomplish once your business is sold. The more detailed your plan for after the business sells, the better. You will find that a little preparation now will save you stress and anxiety about your future as you navigate through the complex process of selling your business.