When is the right time to sell a business? Part 1: The owner is tired

InCorply blog

One would think that the right time to sell a company is when the desire to sell is certain, the buyer exists and the price offered is acceptable to the owner. If you also know what to do with the free time and money, everything is very easy. In this article, we focus on the situation where the decision on the future fate of the company has not been made. What are the possible future scenarios if the old-fashioned way can no longer be continued?
You are tired of doing business and you feel "I can't take it anymore"

Customers very often turn to InCorply with words "I can't take it anymore". The reasons for being that tired are, of course, different, but there is a pattern here as well. The main reason is to realize that people have been drowning in the work for too long and too deep, and there is no desire or ability to pass on in the same way.

Does this sound familiar?

This situation is becoming more and more familiar to the generation that started business in the 1990s and has reached the age of retirement. There are other reasons for leaving the business, such as worsening labor or economic problems where the company is no longer able to make a profit. However, fatigue from being an entrepreneur is one of the most common.

Operating on autopilot will not lead you to solutions

In the worst case, constant overtime is accompanied by burnout, which leads to so-called autopilot, which in turn leads to wrong management decisions and disregard for the ever-changing business environment. In such a situation, it is very difficult for an entrepreneur to assess the situation impartially, which is why they tend to repeat the same actions to the same extend, and falling deeper and deeper into the autopilot.

However, the situation where work-life balance (family, hobbies, holidays, friends, health, etc.) is unequal is not sustainable. Just recently, I ended up talking to the owner of a small business outside Tallinn, who mentioned that he was going on holiday for a week. It is noteworthy here that this was his first holiday in eight years.

Next steps to get out of the wheel

If you find yourself in this situation, you should be aware of it and not assume that continuing in the same way will resolve the situation. In order to escape the so-called "mouse on a treadmill" situation, it is wise to start solving the problem. However, there is definitely no need to act rashly here.

Here are some ideas to consider when you're thinking of exiting the company:

  • Try to evaluate your situation as objectively as possible. If this is a specific and correctable issue, find a solution to resolve it. If the problem is unsolvable or you don't want to fix it, consider selling the business.

  • Consult with loved ones and professionals.

  • Don't wait for any miracles, they won't happen. Especially overnight and doing things the same way.

  • Decide. Deciding in favor of either option (sell or not to sell) is more sensible than not deciding.

  • If you want to sell a business , be prepared for a potential buyer to value the value of the business completely differently than you do as a seller. Also be prepared that not every business can be sold.

  • If you decide to sell your business, don't wait until your business is down, your customers or your employees leave. Then it may turn out that there is nothing left to sell or that only a small part of what could have been obtained by deciding in favor of the sale is available.

Possible solutions for exiting the company

When deciding on next steps, it is worth consulting with good friends and family, and definitely experts who can give advice on the possible future steps of the company. If, even after a calm reflection, it is clear that it is no longer feasible to do business, a decision should be made on what to do next.

Think through 4 possible ways to leave the business:

  • Number 1. The company is closed down - employees (if any) are laid off, no new orders are taken from customers, assets are tried to be sold, the company fades away quietly. This is a simple and relatively common scenario, especially for small businesses. For the owner, the problem is solved, but it is still advisable to contact a business sales consultant, as it may be possible to sell the business which the current owner should definitely like it more than closing it down. Not to mention the revenue from the sale.
  • Number 2. A part of the company is sold - this can lead to a leap in the company's development, as the new owner brings new knowledge and so-called new energy to the company. It can also be a good option if the former owner is able to distance himself from the executive management. The dangers, of course, are still round-the-clock involvement and disagreements with the new shareholder over how the company should be run. In this case, the potential risks must be carefully assessed in advance.
  • Number 3. Leaving the company for the descendants is a good option, but unfortunately it often happens that the children do not want to hear anything about the company. Having seen the victims of their ancestors, they cannot be blamed for it. The expectations and interests of the younger generation may not overlap with those of the older generation, including in terms of entrepreneurship and its business areas. This is a natural course of life and should be understood (although the younger generation would agree with the gaining profits from the sale of the business).
  • Number 4. The company is listed for sale - if there is nobody to leave the company to, the sale of the company is clearly the most reasonable of the options listed here. The company continues to operate, the employees keep their jobs, the owner earns income. For the previous owner, the sale clearly marks the end of one stage of their life, for good.

Deciding may not be easy

There are definitely more reasons to exit the company than mentioned in this article. There are also many different options to consider. However, it is important to feel the need for change, to find out the reasons for the situation and to choose the solution that suits you from the possible alternative options.

Hopefully this article will help you better assess the situation and get ideas for the next steps. If you decide to sell your business, be sure to consult with professionals. Sometimes an impartial view and an objective opinion are desperately needed to achieve clarity.

You can also find good tips in our other articles:

Mati Maasik
Mati Maasik

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