Have you ever wondered what you would do with your time if you owned a business and sold it?
A lack of goals and interests outside their company is the No. 1 reason business owners procrastinate when preparing to sell. The delay can be costly because a lot of them ride their businesses past the peak of their value, as I wrote in an earlier column.
I discussed the tendency to put off selling a business with Basil Peters, author of Early Exits: Exit Strategies for Entrepreneurs and Angel Investors (But Maybe Not Venture Capitalists). Mr. Peters watched many of his Young President’s Organization (YPO) members struggle:
“(My YPO friends) would get cold feet and wonder how they would fill their days after the sale. They had become emotionally attached to their businesses and felt like they were contemplating the sale of a child.”
Mr. Peters, who figures he has talked to approximately 100 business owners post-sale, started an informal poll to find out how they felt about the move, asking each of them a simple question: “Now that the money is in your bank, if you were given the opportunity, would you want to write a cheque to the acquirer and get your company back?”
Of the 100 or so entrepreneurs Mr. Peters has canvassed, not a single business owner said he or she would prefer to return to life before the sale.
In my case, the first few weeks after I left my last start-up, I felt a bit like a fish out of water, not sure what to do. But pretty soon, I came up with a new set of business and life plans. I decided to write a book, I got involved in Kiva.org, I started to do some angel investing ... Now I have plenty to do and a sense of direction again.
If Mr. Peters’ informal survey is accurate, you will too.
Special to The Globe and Mail
John Warrillow is a writer, speaker and angel investor in a number of start-up companies. He writes a blog about building a valuable – sellable – company. Follow him on Twitter @JohnWarrillow.