Emotionally Preparing Yourself to Sell Your Business

If you have built up your company with your blood, sweat, and tears, be sure to prepare yourself for the emotional fall-out that can come with selling. Some owners may not admit it to themselves, but their personal identity could be tied up in the business they are selling. As a result, they can suffer more than a little angst when it’s time to let it go. Before you shrug away the notion that you will be emotionally affected in a negative way by selling your business because it is your choice to do so, consider the following scenarios and how you might respond to them.

Loss of Control

You were the boss. That means that the business was under your total control until the day you sold it. Many business owners stay on with their company to make the transition go more smoothly for employees, vendors, and buyers.

If this is the case, how will you deal with the loss of control? You will not be the top boss anymore. Many decisions will not be yours to make, and you will have to answer to someone else. This is something you simply may not be used to and it could be hard to adapt to this situation.

Changing Perceptions

The way that you are viewed by your former employees, vendors you worked with, and in the community at large will likely change after you sell your business. You need to be prepared for some negativity and have a strategy to deal with it.

Employees may lose their jobs or be demoted by a new owner. They might end up resenting you for it. If they were long-time employees or you had personal relationships, that could sting. Even employees who are kept or opt to stay on when the business changes hands might treat you differently now that you are not the boss. They could be less respectful or even resentful that you are still around. How will you manage that negativity?

Vendors might not be happy about you selling the business, especially if they lose contracts. If you were a big client for vendors who are replaced by the new owner, they may blame you. After all, this situation would impact their livelihood. Neighboring businesses might not like the new customers coming and going or cosmetic changes to the building they are in. It’s important to think about these kinds of possibilities and how you will deal with them.

Don’t Go It Alone

Before you begin the process of selling your business, gather a support team including lawyers, accountants, advisors, and business brokers. They can help you manage the emotional component that is so often involved in letting your business go and share examples of how other sellers have handled these types of situations. They can also guide you to navigate changing relationships with employees, vendors, and the community.


Steve Ford is Executive Vice President of Creative Business Services/CBS-Global.

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