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You’ve Sold Your Business – Sunset, or Sunrise? Your Call!

26 July 2023

We recently discussed the transitioning-out phase of selling your closely-held business. Now, it’s time to talk about what life looks like once you’re no longer involved in the business you spent so much time building and running.

The sun has set on one phase of your life, it’s true, and after selling their businesses, many entrepreneurs feel a profound sense of loss. This is perfectly natural. For much of your life has been about building, growing, and running this thriving business which no longer belongs to you.

You can focus on that sunset if you choose to, or you can realize that as that sun sets, another is rising on your next life-phase. What you make of that phase is up to you – but we have a few suggestions on how you can ensure you don’t go stir-crazy looking at a blank wall as you mourn your loss of your business.

  • Ask yourself what you learned during the sale process. This is a first step toward making the sale just one more milestone, like your 21st birthday (or your 65th). You aren’t done – you have a long string of milestones ahead of you.
  • Sit quietly with yourself and remind yourself of what you value (outside of all that lovely money you’ve saved, and the additional capital the sale has brought you). See where this thought may lead you.
  • Think about activities you enjoy, and those you’ve always wanted to try. If there’s a better time to explore both, I don’t know what it is.

But don’t contemplate too long – one thing you will very likely miss is the activity and human contact running your business day by day provided. Don’t replace this with inactivity and solitude – unless that is precisely what you know you want and need. And even if that’s the case, you are likely to find it won’t hold your full interest for long.

So make a plan to replace the people you won’t see (though by all means keep up with any and all good friends you’ve made through your business) with people you can make time with. Replace the activities no longer on your plate with new ones you choose for no other reason than that you have either always enjoyed them or very much want to try them.

After all, it’s your life. It’s a new phase, and as Shakespeare put it, the world’s your oyster. Open it and find your pearl.

Some things which can help you ease into your new phase:

  • Spend quality time with your family – an extended, shared vacation to a place you’ve never visited but have always wanted to see can provide both adventure and reinforced bonds in your most important relationships.
  • Reconnect with old friends and make new plans to enjoy their company.
  • If you’ve hobbies you are active in, consider a new level of involvement and commitment.
  • If you haven’t, are there any hobbies you’ve wanted to cultivate? This is the time to do so.
  • New employment is always a possibility – roughly 40% of entrepreneurs start new businesses after selling their old ones.
  • Become a youth mentor if that’s something which appeals to you.
  • Join boards of other companies or become involved with a non-profit.
  • Volunteer to do work for your favorite charity – this can be a great avenue for new action, especially if your charity has need of service within your areas of expertise. One client of ours became a museum docent after retirement and found it very rewarding.

It’s important that you recognize the emotional fall-out of selling your business, your baby (maybe selling your business is slightly analogous to seeing your children grown and independent) and taking steps to avoid sinking into sadness over what you no longer have.

Focus on what you do have and what you are grateful for:

  • A lot more capital than you had before you sold, and, if the purchase price includes payments over time, more to come.
  • The luxury of more free time, even if you must fill it. Because you can now choose to fill it as you like, with family, friends, travel, community involvement, even starting a new business.

This last point is important, because that very time can weigh heavily on entrepreneurs, once they’ve sold their business.

So, make sure you fill that time with people and activities that spark joy in your life. You have a cornucopia of opportunities available to you – dive in and make use of them. If you dig deep, you’ll find you do have unmet goals, unfulfilled ambitions, even if they aren’t business oriented.

Otherwise, you wouldn’t have sold your business, because, if what you really wanted was to keep running it yourself, no offer was too good to refuse.

Remember that, breathe, and embrace your new sunrise.

If you are considering a potential sale of your business, I recommend strongly that you consult with us before making any major decisions – and the sooner the better, as the process of selling a closely-held business can take a year, sometimes longer.

Please click here to let me know how I can help you.

Until next time –



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