The Business Exit Void
Whenever I was asked, ‘what will you do after you sell your business,’ I always responded that I’d start a new business but do it better, quicker and easier. I knew that once I completed my business exit I’d take a 10 day holiday and then start building a new empire.
Goes to show you how much I know myself (or don’t know). After my business exit I dabbled in a bit of this and a bit of that. I went to meetings, considered consultancy, attended a monthly business club, wrote a book on the nature of reality, became a Day Skipper (yachting), started being an at-home parent, set up a website and another and another and soon settled into a void. Nothing seemed to excite me. I would create a business plan or empire and then the following day think, ‘no…I don’t really want to do that.’ My plans to start on a new adventure didn’t seem to materialise.
Luckily I had enough money to coast for a while so finding work wasn’t a short-term necessity. But after several months I wondered if I was lazy – perhaps I didn’t like to work. Perhaps the only reason I did create a successful company was because I was in it for the money. And if that’s the case am I going to have to bumble along until my money runs out and I have nothing to show for all my hard work. (Can you see a crisis coming on?)
I’m sure there are many business owners that exit and know exactly what they’re going to do but this ex-business owner became a lost sheep. I had defined myself so much by my previous job that I didn’t really know who I was, what I wanted or even what I really enjoyed doing. By the time of my exit I was disillusioned with the business world. Part of me wanted to buy a house on Fiji and become a Yoga guru and another part of me wanted to get my mojo back and start something fun and interesting. I didn’t know what I wanted nor did I fully understand my options. I didn’t know what I didn’t know!
Rewind a year previous and I felt stuck, trapped, undervalued, and overworked. Yes – it was my company and yet I felt stifled by it. I wanted to be free! And then after almost a year of negotiations, uncertainty, doubts and sleepless nights my wish for freedom came true. Free at last. Now what?
The reasons to exit and the business exit process can be so consuming that life after the business doesn’t get attention. And perhaps that’s okay. Since my departure I’ve done a lot of soul searching and can honestly say that I now know what it means to follow my heart rather than my head. Rather than doing what I was good at, I took a back seat and let my boat drift around while taking stock on what I liked, didn’t like and where I wanted to go.
It’s taken over a year for me to get my mojo back but this mojo is different. Rather than jump into doing what I’ve always done, I’ve taken my time and changed my entire lifestyle. I’ve gone from being a control freak stressed business owner workaholic to a calm, centred enthusiastic entrepreneur with a portfolio of fun and interesting projects. I’ve learned how to create a life I want to live rather than work endlessly to enjoy a life later.
So whether you are just starting out on your business exit journey or are nearing the end I thought I’d share my living in the void story with you. At least if it happens, you’ll have the comfort that it’s not just you.
Kim Brown, Co-Founder of Business Wand, helps business owners navigate their way through the start to finish process of selling a business. Her specialty is to help owners cut costs and increase profits prior to sale. To understand how you can sell your business quickly for the highest sales price, purchase the book, “How To Sell A Business: The #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale”