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Coping With Change:
Life After The Business Sale


Every business sale has its own backstory, but many have the common theme of regret. A serial entrepreneur has just sold his fifth business. A woman who inherited her father’s company and built it into a successful enterprise is looking for her next great challenge. An entrepreneur who built his company from scratch is looking to retire to years of golf and enjoying the grandkids, but has a hard time unwinding. Coping with change after selling a business can be difficult when the company has been a big part of your identity for decades.


The most shrewd business professionals get involved in business with an exit strategy in mind from the get-go. They put in their time and leave with no regrets. Others have no trouble finding investors or consultant to maximize the company’s monetary value and sell for huge profits to retire comfortably. For those who work to earn a living and provide for their families, it isn’t so hard to walk away. Yet, what about those who work as an extension of themselves… who find a sense of purpose and pride in what they’ve built and created?


It’s safe to say most business owners are emotionally unprepared and “never quite ready” to hand over the keys to their companies. Being “the boss” is definitely an ego boost that can be hard to part from. Many business owners love having others who hang on their very word and relish in their contributions. Going back to being a “regular Joe” can certainly be a difficult transition.


Goal-oriented people who thrive in high-stress environments typically feel bored and utterly lost at first. It can be hard to see the company go on without you because you’re so used to justifying those 50, 60, 70 hour work weeks by convincing yourself that the company can’t exist without you. How will you adjust to the silence of your cell phone or the empty email inbox? How can you just hit the “off” switch, without falling into boredom and even depression?


Once the sale has been made, it’s time to embark upon another journey – an odyssey of self-discovery. It’s time to take a well-deserved vacation and re-connect with family and friends who may have felt like #2 to your career all along. It’s time to find new hobbies, interests and activities. It’s time to appreciate the small things in life – getting up at sunrise because you want to, rather than have to, embracing your grandchildren when they get home from school, or having a weekend free to go to the lake house.


Some people will give back to the community with charitable works to find a renewed sense of purpose and self-worth. Others will enjoy their time – filling their days with rounds of golf, flute lessons, writing workshops, hiking trips, films, and family time. Some former business owners will consider their companies as a major accomplishment, but won’t ever look back.


Often business owners need to exit their companies or retire due to medical reasons. For these people, exiting the business can be an excuse to start over with their health – to eat better, exercise more often, and focus on aging gracefully. Exit planning is about living -- not dying. If you want to live a long, healthy and successful life, eventually you have to take the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.  



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