There are a number of crucial considerations that will impact the success of an exit. One important area to think about is your involvement in the business once the deal is consummated.
Think long and hard about whether you want to stay on with the business posttransaction. Picture yourself at your headquarters with someone else in the corner office. Will you be able to handle ceding control of the company you’ve built to an outsider? Whether or not you want to stay will help determine how you position your company, to which types of buyers. Private equity firms, for example, will typically require a management team stay on board. Strategic acquirers can more easily insert their own executives.
If you think you want to leave, be sure you’re ready to exit the business you’ve worked so hard to build. Ambivalence on this front may negatively affect the exit planning process. As Bob Berk, a Master Vistage Chair in Chicago, notes, “Although business owners intellectually understand their identity is not their business, it can be hard to separate the emotional attachment. Understand what your business goals are and what your personal goals are. Remember that you have value as a person, and not just as a business — this is crucial. There is a life after the business.”
To prepare yourself for exit, think about what you will spend your time doing after you’ve exited the business, and be realistic. If you’re used to working 12-hour days, and find satisfaction in your work, you may not enjoy constant relaxation as much as you think. You might plan to start a new venture, or dive headfirst into a passion that was formerly a hobby. Perhaps you’ll spend your time travelling. Whatever it may be, crafting a plan will help make exiting your business easier.