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Business Exit - The 7 secrets to avoiding the post-sale blues

Entrepreneurs, post-sale, post-sale blues, selling a business

Business Exit - The 7 secrets to avoiding the post-sale blues

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5 minute read

For most business owners, selling their business is the pinnacle of their career. The culmination and reward for years of hard work, decades even, have led to this very moment.

The flip side for many people that have just sold their business, is that once the exciting and nerve-wrenching rollercoaster ride of selling your business ends, and all the celebrations and holidays are over, you are sometimes left with a case of the post-sale blues. It is a recognised fact that many entrepreneurs face a huge void in their life after they sell their business.

After the euphoria of the business sale and banking the money, when for months you were the centre of attention, pretty much everyone who was advising and supporting you moves on to other things – and yet the one thing that filled your day and your thoughts on almost a 24-7 basis is now owned and run by somebody else.

This blog has been written to help business owners at or near the point of sale and is based on over 10 years of experience helping entrepreneurs and business owners regain a sense of self and find a new and positive direction in their lives. Here are the 7 Secrets of how to embrace your new life post-sale:

1. Have a vision and plan

Planning the future

Many entrepreneurs do not know how to “do nothing”, or simply relax. They are programmed go-getters always having to be on the move. This is why it’s good to imagine your perfect future life, have a vision and plan goals to make it happen. Create a plan for your first 5 years post-sale with a mix of short-term and long-term goals such as:

  1. Get my personal finances in order
  2. Take the whole family for a 4-week holiday around California
  3. Volunteer on the events board of a local NPO (non-profit organisation)
  4. Sell the flat in London and purchase a holiday home in the South of France
  5. Attend weekly classes to learn French

Write down these goals, create actions to achieve them and speak to your partner, friends, family or financial planner about them, to help to transform these ideas into a reality.

2. Avoid lots of life changes at once

Writing a list of to dos

Selling your business is an exciting time, you’ve just been handed a hefty sum of money and the freedom to spend your time however and wherever you like. The temptation to make several spontaneous life changes at once is high, but too many changes in a short space of time can be hard for you to digest and can lead to feeling a loss of identity.

Selling your business is a substantial change so it’s sensible to wait and adjust to that change before making other major changes. Avoid the immediate pressures to invest your new-found wealth and try and avoid expensive ‘guilty pleasures’ – simply write down what you plan to do with your money, seal the envelope and open it again in 12 months. The reality is that a year on, you won’t then want to spend in the same way as you once thought. Why is this? Well, at the sale point, you are in a state of high emotion and running on adrenalin. Not the best frame of mind to make sensible long-term decisions.

3. Get financially smart

Couple looking through finances

If you are selling up it’s quite likely that this is going to be your last pay cheque (for a while or forever) and probably your largest. Smartly managing your money is vital if you want it to last for your lifetime.

If pensions, tax, bonds and investments sound like a foreign language to you, you should speak to an impartial and qualified financial planner. At Capital, your planner will discuss your lifestyle aspirations and goals, and using specialist technology, FutureMap™, identifies if you have enough money to pursue your plan and how to invest your money to meet your expectations. Your financial planner will do all the legwork for you, including creating a diverse investment portfolio suitable for your risk capacity, organise a solicitor for your wills, liaise with an accountant regarding your personal tax affairs, and manage your pensions and other assets.

Delegating your finances to a Chartered Financial Planner can be an enormous weight off your shoulders and give you peace of mind that your money is in safe hands, and that you won’t run out of money before running out of breath. Your planner will also act as an impartial sounding board for your life decisions.

4. Learn from others

Lady reading about others who have sold their business

Prepare yourself by reading up on what it will be like from others that have experienced selling their business, there are some great blogs and books out there on life after the sale, including Life After an Exit. Discovering other people’s post-sale journeys can help you to navigate your own and learn from their mistakes and successes, and many people find it comforting that other people have gone through a similar experience.

5. Join a community

Joining a community project after selling your business

Don’t underestimate how much the sense of community and purpose your company gave you benefited you psychologically. Replacing that is very important, so joining a community or peer group could really help you in the post-sale process. This could be anything from helping in your local community, joining an NPO board, or a club for your hobbies such as a golf club or book club.

Humans are designed to be part of a tribe, and yet wealth often drives people to seclusion behind gates walls and exclusive estates. Nobody worked hard to be wealthy to find themselves lonely.

6. Focus on your passion

Going traveling after selling your business

Life after the sale is an amazing opportunity to focus on what you are passionate about and being able to choose how much energy you spend on this without the constraints of work. Whether your passion lies in travelling, working with an NPO, writing a novel, learning a new skill or wherever else your imagination takes you, this is the perfect time to pursue your dream.

Set aside a budget that you can afford to lose without putting your financial well-being in jeopardy. Then if it all goes wrong, or your book doesn’t find a publisher, what have you lost?

7. Stay active – mentally and physically

Staying fit and healthy after selling your business

Many entrepreneurs will be used to an active and busy lifestyle for their mind and body, so maintaining a good level of activity is the best way to combat boredom and post-sale blues.

Including regular activities into your week that you enjoy, whether that’s going for long country walks, cooking, art, gardening or playing a sport, will help to sustain a healthy mind and body. Going from the busy working schedule of being an entrepreneur to no structure can be daunting, so adding regular activities into your week can also be a fantastic way to implement some structure into your life.

To maintain a healthy and sharp brain, try to keep learning new things, such as learning to play a new musical instrument, a foreign language, taking a class, or even reading books or newspapers frequently.

Selling your business is a significant life change and it’s important to remember that it can affect people in different ways, from a shake-up to your identity, losing your sense of belonging, feeling lost through lack of structure, to feeling bored. Frequently, it is a loss of being ‘relevant’ especially when the meetings, phone calls, emails and texts come to a sharp stop. This is the void that must be avoided at all costs.

However, by putting steps in place to combat these struggles, your post-sale period can be an incredible new beginning and the next exciting chapter in your life.  It can be an amazing time to focus on your passion, enjoy quality time with family and friends, and explore and learn new things.

Capital Asset Management is a Chartered Financial Planning firm specialising in the creative sector and entrepreneurs who are at or near a life-changing event. For more information about Capital, visit our website or to seek more advice on this subject; call us on 020 7398 6600 or email sophie@capital.co.uk.

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