(Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Bizjournals.com, whose parent company, American City Business Journals, is the largest publisher of metropolitan business newsweeklies in the United States, with 43 business publications across the country.)
Entrepreneurs who have built a business from the ground up often have strong emotional ties to their companies. In many cases their business is their life, their livelihood, and their legacy.
How could they even think of selling?
Well the truth is that virtually all companies will be sold one day. And virtually all business owners will have to look in the mirror and ask the question – Am I still the person to lead this company through the challenges ahead?
It’s a lot easier said than done. Not all of us have the capacity to be brutally honest with ourselves. Sometimes we need a third party to guide us to the right decision. But it’s always worth the effort to weigh the options for the future of your business.
Here are some scenarios that you and your business might be facing. Any or all of them might be hinting that the time is right to sell all or part of your busines.
1. Your health is declining
Maybe your business is negatively affecting your health, and your declining health is affecting your business. Or, it might simply be that you are ailing even though your business is not. Regardless, it could be time to consider a transaction that would allow a successor or an outside buyer to take over the business.
2. You’re just not that into the business anymore
Have you lost the passion you once had for your business? If you no longer have the spring in your step that propelled you to the success you’ve achieved, it may be time for a change. A business without a passionate leader is like a boat without a sail. It’s just going to drift along, and who knows where it will end up?
3. Other priorities consume your time
Many successful entrepreneurs have made sacrifices to get to the top. They made building the business their priority. But as years passed, their interests changed and their priorities shifted to new business ventures, personal relationships, charitable endeavors, etc. If your business is no longer your top priority, it may be time to hand over the reins to someone else.
4. You are hesitant about investing in growth
A number of things can deter CEOs from investing additional money in their business. Perhaps they really don’t have the money to plow back into the company. They might be afraid to invest in their business because new technology or intense competition is transforming the marketplace in ways they could not foresee. Or maybe they are just comfortable with the status quo.
Owners who are hesitant or unable to invest money in their businesses should investigate their options with a reputable mergers & acquisitions investment banker. Successful companies remain in high demand today. Due to the current abundance of cash in the market, low interest rates and a relatively strong economy, owners have numerous options, ranging from selling all or part of the company, to restructuring or recapitalizing the company’s debt and equity mix.
Even if you are confident that you and the business are moving in the right direction, be honest with yourself. Periodically, all business owners should review their roles in the company and evaluate whether or not they are still the best person for the job. Make a list of the factors that would prompt you to shift your exit strategy into high gear. Then share this list with your trusted advisors and review it annually. An outside consultant, such as an investment banker or exit planning professional, can provide options for transferring ownership, selling all or part of your business or bringing in strategic partners.
By preparing to depart at the right time, you’ll be ready when it’s time to make the big decision that is right for you, your family and your business.
About the Author
David J. Mahmood
Founder and Chairman
Phone: (214) 217-7750