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Andi Gray: How to get ready to sell your small business

Getting my small business ready for sale. Makes me feel on edge and unsure. After 23 Andi Grayyears of running this business, I have to stop following my long-practiced habits and focus on what’s next. How do I do that?

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Transitioning from small-business owner to something else is a process that many people find challenging. Design your future. Make sure you’ve secured the finances you’ll need. Learn about all the ways that business owners sell their businesses when they’re ready to let go. Decide what you want your legacy to be.

It’s normal to feel anxious or unsettled when facing the uncertainty that accompanies change. It’s a big deal to go from the role of business owner to something else. There will likely be feelings of loss. But this can also be an opportunity to explore new possibilities, which is something successful business owners are good at.

Fight the temptation to avoid dealing with the unknowns. It’s normal when feeling stress to retreat to familiar day-to-day activities. The better solution is to do what successful business owners always do – get on with tackling the unknown. Create a picture of the next phase of your life that is rich and joyful and put yourself center stage.

Think about this:

  • What things did you put aside as you faced the demands of building and running your business?
  • Who would you like to meet? Or get to know better?
  • What constitutes fun for you?

Do a financial reality check.

  • How much money do you have set aside? How much will you need?
  • What’s the gap between money you’ve set aside and your goal for retirement? How can monetizing the business close that gap?
  • What’s the business worth? (Hint: most business owners don’t know the correct answer to this question.)
  • What do you know about successfully monetizing a business?

Build a list of things you need to learn and get to work tackling that list.

Give yourself plenty of time to think about and adjust to the future. Get expert advice along the way. Ideally, allow five to 10 years to prepare a business for optimum sale. If you’re under the gun and have to do this transition more quickly, surround yourself with advisers who can help you do the things you’re not experienced at doing.

Build a picture of what a successful transition for the business looks like. Consider these questions:

  • What will happen to your employees when you’re done?
  • What role will family members play in the future? Do they want it? What do they have to do to prepare?
  • You and your business are intertwined right now, based on being together day after day for 23 years. Your identity and the business’ identity are almost one. What do you want for the business when you turn over the reins?
  • What do you care most about inside the business? Who will care for that after you retire from the field?
  • What happens to the great customers? Who will take care of them in the future?
  • What about loyal vendors who’ve been there to help you and who rely on your company for work? What happens to them?
  • What happens to the positive reputation you’ve worked so hard to build? Does it disappear or continue?

Build a picture of a positive transition that takes into account all of the great things you imagine. Then get to work building that reality. Write out your vision. Take action each week to build toward that future.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: “The Breakaway: The Inside Story of the Wirtz Family Business and the Chicago Blackhawks” by Bryan Smith.

Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., StrategyLeaders.com, a business-consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics at 877-238-3535 or AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Check out our library of business advice articles at AskAndi.com.


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