Why do I want to sell my business?
I asked this question before.
I was a business owner and founder that was consumed by long hours and overwhelmed by demands. For 18 years, I led an aviation company called EMTEQ. I would get frustrated with the long hours, people issues and lack of instant success. At times it literally felt like the whole world was on my shoulders. For these reasons, it made me think about selling. Other times it made me wonder about the price where I would get up and walk away from the business.
Those constant issues, which I was mostly attempting to handle on my own, always consumed me. What I realized was that I was the limiting factor to the growth of the organization. I was the one controlling my destiny.
In the early 2000s, I met with Don Davis, who at the time, was the CEO of Rockwell Automation. His message was simple. Getting through the start up and early business stages was the hard part. In fact, he shared that we accomplished something that he was very envious of. He said if you are willing to delegate, hire good people, and let them do their work you really don’t have to sell. Or, at least not for those reasons.
It’s not as if we were selling because we couldn’t get conventional financing or because we weren’t capable of growing. In fact, we had quite the growth track record. I was simply frustrated.
Thankfully we didn’t sell. In the years following that conversation, our business grew over 10 times the size it had been. We did, however, sell it in 2014 for the right reasons. We didn’t sell because we were frustrated.
My advice to anyone who thinks that they should sell, or has even had the thought about selling, is to read the following.
If you have ever asked yourself “Should I sell my business”, make sure to take some time to uncover the real reason why you would want to.
Are you really considering selling your business for the right reasons?
Do you want to sell because you are stuck at a certain size or with a certain management team?
Do you feel that you are not the right person to lead the company?
Are you thinking about selling because you simply aren’t having fun anymore?
Are there partner issues?
If you could fix whatever is keeping you up at night, would you still want to sell the business?
I’m asking these questions because I want you to sell your business for the right reasons. I want you to realize there are a variety of options apart from selling. Don’t sell because you are frustrated.
The most important thing to remember is that once you sell your business, whether partially or in full, the business simply won’t be the same. Neither will your life.
Someone else may take your place or role, the name may change, and the culture will definitely change. Imagine how hard this is for the former owner to accept. This change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just keep in mind, it is a MAJOR CHANGE.
Like so many owners, I personally became attached to my company and the values that were behind it. It was a major part of my life and it somewhat defined me.
We started to personify EMTEQ as it grew. The business represented our goals, values and beliefs. Our culture became a part of its inner fabric to the core. We took great pride in creating jobs. We empowered individuals to be all that they could be and encouraged them to be engaged, energized and motivated to delight the customer. This is what really grew the business.
If, after reading this, you are still unsure if you should sell your business, please remember that the answer is up to you. Only you are the judge on if you are selling for the right reasons. It’s a personal matter as oftentimes the business owner is doing what they do for more than the money.
If you don’t want to sell, but potentially feel forced to, you can always reach out to others to help you get unstuck. Business advisors are available to help. Accountability tools, business plans, leadership development, and effective execution processes are all just parts of how you can start a growth plan.
My suggestion to you is that you should always run your business like it is for sale. Focus now on doing the right things with your people, processes, and customers. When your business starts to grow through those parties, it will look so intriguing and interesting. Companies will want to buy yours because it’s healthy. People will want to work for you because it’s a great place to work. Other businesses will want to partner with you because there is growth potential.
Always run your business like it is for sale. Click To Tweet
Lastly, for those who still wish to sell their business and get entirely out of it, that is okay too. I encourage you to take time to create a vision for your life without your company. What motivates you? Where do your passions lie? How much financial freedom will you have? These all need to be taken into consideration. Figure that out as far ahead of selling as you possibly can. After all, selling your business is a life altering ordeal.
Best wishes to wherever your business journey takes you!