More than a transaction: Your personal mindset and the business exit

The Experts

I recently spoke with a man in his 50s who built a successful accounting firm and sold it for a competitive price. You would assume that he was proud and happy about his accomplishment, but two years after the sale and he was still harboring a sense of loss and remorse.

He was telling me, “I should have kept the business, I sold too soon. I wasn’t ready to step away from what I know. I am having a hard time establishing myself in a new field, and I don’t see myself going back to accounting now.” 

Some successful business owners do a great job of preparing their businesses to become attractive to buyers but they neglect to prepare themselves for handing over the keys and walking away. As a founder and CEO, so much of your identity is wrapped up in the business. Forming strong bonds, and relationships, with the employees, the management team, vendors and clients is not uncommon — they often become a part of your extended family. Even if you step away from the day-to-day operations, you can still keep your hand on the pulse of the business and maintain your connection. Selling, on the other hand, is a permanent separation (in most cases) and requires appropriate planning.

Eighty percent of the success of your exit, and the next chapter of your life, will be based on your mindset: how you perceive your current reality, outcomes for the transaction and the vision you hold for your future. Focusing only on the transaction and neglecting to plan for your life after the sale may have long-term, unintended consequences. Establishing personal plans reduces stress, anxiety and seller’s remorse you may feel after the sale.

AVAILABILITY OF TIME

You will probably be eliminating eight to 14 hours of work-related activities a day. It sounds wonderful to have all the time, and freedom, in the world but we are creatures of habits and routines. Without them, we can feel lost, flounder without purpose or spiral into negative self-talk. When thinking about your exit, consider what your new “workday,” or week, might look like and start creating positive, sustainable routines around it.

You can anchor your schedule with training sessions, meetings and appointments that will keep you committed, get you out of the house on a regular basis and focused on things that are important to you. For example, you can expand your workout regimen to achieve physical goals that you never had time for while running your business.

Other anchors to think about: serving on boards of for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations; maintaining lunch meetings with former business associates who have become friends; allocating specific time in your schedule for reading, learning and creating. 

MENTAL STIMULATION

Once you do not have the same demands, and pressures, on your time, mind and decision-making power, you might feel like a fish out of water. Pace of life changes, often it slows down, even if temporarily, and that can create discomfort.

To create a successful exit mindset, set new goals, and challenges, for yourself ahead of time. For instance, learning a new language or exploring quantum physics, partnering on another business endeavor where all the stress and responsibility does not land solely on your shoulders can fulfill that role. You can learn about topics you have been interested in, and again, had no time to pursue.

Maybe you have political aspirations or to serve the community or the country. This is your opportunity to shine, and share the wealth of knowledge you have accumulated over the years, and maintain high levels of mental stimulation. 

NEW LIFESTYLE

Most importantly, you will need to create a compelling vision for what your life can look like after the sale of your business. This is an opportunity for reflection. For some, this will become an inward journey of finding inner peace and contentment. For others, this will be a chance to live your best life, now that there is more time.

With the right mindset, planning your exit can be an exciting time for you. When one door closes, many others can open. This can be your time to get creative and explore, dream big and then expand your vision even more.    

It’s all up to you and your mindset.

Vera Anderson is an international business mindset and legacy coach. She works with global business elite on exceeding business goals, establishing a desirable lifestyle, reaching their full potential and creating an impactful legacy at every level. Contact her for a consultation at [email protected] or on LinkedIn at vera-anderson.

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