Selling Your Business: Keep Calm and Carry On

Libby Palomeque

Portfolio Manager
First Republic Investment Management

May 1, 2015

We’re all guilty of letting our emotions get the better of us when we’re under pressure or feeling fragile. But letting your heart rule your head when it comes to selling your business can cause problems in the process as well as sleepless nights. When preparing to sell the business you’ve built from nothing - essentially your ‘baby’ – it’s good to be aware of the emotional impact, so you can deal with it as calmly as possible and keep your business running steadily. The following tips are valuable lessons I’ve learned from my clients over the years.

1. Prepare yourself for intense feelings

Your business has been a part of your life for a very long time. When it’s sold, what will happen to your team? How will the business develop in the future? Will the new owners care about things as much as you did? Suddenly not having to think about it day and night and no longer being in control of your business can trigger feelings of loss. If these feelings come, admit them to yourself and remind yourself of the reasons you want to sell. This will help you to put the doubts into perspective.

2. Make sure you have support

It’s difficult to find someone to confide in when you’re dealing with highly-confidential information, but you should try to find an outlet for your emotions. You don’t need to disclose any of the details of your business, but it’s good to have a friendly ear away from the negotiating table. Out is definitely better than in when it comes to emotions. A person not connected with the sale of your business can also lend fresh perspective if you’re struggling with a particular aspect of the sale.

3. Look after yourself

If you’re used to working out every day and eating a healthy diet, make sure you stick with it. You may feel stressed and exercise can help to clear your mind as well as keeping you fit and healthy. You may be tempted to let things slide when you have so much on your mind, but eating well and exercising will also help you to sleep well. A good night’s rest will ensure you retain your mental sharpness when you need it.

4. Focus on the end result

Until the final documents are signed and sealed, you shouldn’t count your chickens. However, you should allow yourself to imagine what life will look like afterwards. Plan for what you might do on a short break once the deal is finalized and allow yourself to start thinking about your future after the sale. What will you do on the first day, week and month afterwards? Making both short and mid-term plans can help you focus on what you will gain in the future rather than what you’re losing now. You may not be the boss any longer, but you will have more time to spend with your family or on your hobbies while you plan your next move.

5. Embrace the experience

Selling a business is not something everyone gets to experience and it’s a significant life event. Try to embrace the ups and downs of the process and keep a sense of perspective. Yes, this is a major part of your life, but it’s also the start of the next chapter in your life. It’s a tremendous experience and one that will stay with you forever.

You can never guard against or truly fully prepare for the toll your emotions will take on you, but if you’re aware of what may come, you can do your best to deal with it and come out the other side feeling positive and empowered. Selling your business is not the end of the world; keep calm and carry on.

The views expressed in this articles are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent the views of First Republic Bank.