You’ve had the amazing experience of setting up your own business and watching it succeed. So now, after your business exit, what comes next? This blog contains four simple tips to help you adapt to post-sale life.
Failing to prepare for life after a business exit can lead to a series of problems and issues you should avoid.
Research suggests that a 60-hour working week is standard for many business owners. This is a lot of time to fill once you have sold your business.
Selling your business might, of course, fill you with relief that you can turn off the 6 am alarm. Finally, you can spend quality time with your loved ones and even take spur-of-the-moment holidays. Or - it may fill you with dread and lead to certain questions. How are you going to fill those days? Will you be lonely? Will you get bored?
1. Setting your new routine
Most people crave routine in their lives. Our minds and bodies are constantly looking to simplify life and create predictability. You know when to wake up, when to work, when to relax and when to sleep. Routine is like being on autopilot: it saves time, brain power and energy, making you more efficient.
In order to keep your brain active, it’s important to learn new thing and, yes, to break your routine a little. Certainly, no routine should cause you to feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed.
If you aren’t working, however, it’s important to get some structure in your day. Set a time for waking up and having breakfast. A time for being active, social time and a time for exercising your brain. But shake up that routine on a regular basis to keep your brain on its toes (so to speak) and add excitement to life.
2. A new purpose post business exit– what gets you up in the morning?
“When a man or woman does not know what harbour they are making for, no wind is the right wind.” Seneca
Being inactive is neither natural nor comfortable for most entrepreneurs. You are a programmed achiever who needs a purpose. So, it’s important to define your own purpose in life.
When each year is the same as the last and nothing is achieved, it can feel like Groundhog Day. Setting yourself some short-term and long-term goals can help keep you moving forward. It can also give you the satisfaction of achievement. These mini achievements can be anything from learning a new language to visiting five new countries or landscaping your garden.
Life after the sale is an amazing opportunity to focus on what you are passionate about. Now, without the constraints of work to dominate your life, you can give your passions as much time and attention as you please.
With those 50-plus extra hours in your week, you have the time to delve into your interests as never before. It could be anything from starting your own community project to joining the board of a charity, writing a novel, coaching the next generation or (why not?) even exploring the world.
Wherever your imagination takes you, this is the perfect time to pursue your dreams. Set a budget for these aspirations that you can afford to lose without putting your financial well-being in jeopardy.
3. Is money burning a hole in your pocket?
You are now likely to be wealthier than you’ve ever been before. Maybe you sold your company for several million pounds. After the sale, some (ex) business owners go on a shopping spree: booking a few luxury holidays, buying a few new cars, a holiday home, sharing out the money to their children, investing in a racehorse - whatever. If you’re not careful, you can rapidly find your resources getting smaller before you realise what’s happening.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and adrenaline of the sale and its aftermath and waste your money on things you’ll regret. First, take some breathing space and put the money on ice. Don’t rush to spend it or make any big investment decisions. After all, you have the rest of your life ahead of you. Once you’ve had a few months to consider what you really want, you can then plan for it.
If you aren’t planning to work again, it's important to have a financial plan to ensure you don’t run out of money before you run out of life. Speak to your financial planner about creating a well-crafted, realistic financial plan. This plan should cover all your likely income sources as well as any big future expenditure. Plus, how are you going to invest to ensure your after-sale income meets your needs?
4. Are you struggling to adapt to post business exit life?
If you are finding it difficult to cope, you’re not alone. Many other business owners suffer from depression, loneliness or grief after a business exit. It’s a tremendous change to your life and – in a sense - a big loss.
If necessary, it’s important to get help, speak to a coach, join a business-exit group or speak to a GP or counsellor.
Laura Rich, the founder of Exit Club, wrote an article in 2018 that will resonate with many entrepreneurs at a business-exit stage. (Among other things, the article discusses the suicide of businesswoman Kate Spade.) It is worth a read. The Exit Club is a space for entrepreneurs to connect with others that have had a similar experience. (While the Club is largely oriented towards US businesspeople, the issues it raises are international.) If nothing else, it lets you draw on the lessons of other former businesspeople and may give you the added motivation you need.
To discover other helpful ways of avoiding the post-sale blues, read our blog; The 7 secrets to avoiding the post-sale blues for entrepreneurs.
Fully embrace your new chapter
Building a new business from nothing and successfully selling it years later is a remarkable achievement. Now you've earned the chance to enjoy the fruits of your work. Recreate and embrace your new self and life. And who knows, some of those daydreams you had when gazing out of the office window might just, with the right planning, become a reality.
To summarise: set your new groove, find your new purpose, put that money on ice and get the support you need.
If you need help with your financial life after a business sale, contact us. We’ll be happy to arrange a meeting with one of our expert business-exit chartered financial planners today.