Ten Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Selling a Business

Selling a Business? Chase Your Happy Exit

The reason for selling your boutique is very personal. And it should be. You poured your life into building the firm. Leaving it and handing it to someone else takes much thought. Some owners sell for the money. Others say they are bored or exhausted. Others say that the work became a job. It was not fun anymore. 

Some professional services firm owners are afraid that tomorrow might not be as profitable as today. At times, partners start fighting, and one needs to be bought out. Maybe it is time to retire. Or perhaps you are getting divorced, and the assets are being divided. A health scare causes some to consider selling a business. The list is long.

When selling a business, you should aim for a happy exit. I have met owners who have had happy exits and owners who have had unhappy exits. What is the difference? Those who had happy exits knew why they were selling. Those with unhappy exits made one of the biggest selling mistakes: they did not have a reason.

Happy Versus Unhappy Business Exits: Real Case Example

If you are wondering how to sell a business, your first step is understanding your why. I am fortunate to be one of those professional services firm owners who had a happy exit. I knew why I was selling. Allow me to share my personal journey with you. 

I started my firm to answer a question: “How good am I?” I thought starting a firm from scratch was the purest way to find out. I started with no customers, no product, and no employees. I put all my money into the new firm and rolled the dice. If I blew it all, I was prepared to start over. If I was successful, I could look in the mirror and know what I was made of.

As time went on, I matured. I developed a personal mission statement. I outlined a vision of my future that I wanted to pursue. I determined how I wanted to behave. I codified this into eight core values, and I lived by them.  

I became a skilled decision-maker. I made good choices, which created new opportunities. I met many different types of people. I learned which tribe I wanted to belong to. I discovered how best to spend my time. I knew what my limitations were. 

This led me to goal setting. I settled on a single goal: self-actualization. The concept of full personal potential lit a fire in my belly. I began to evaluate my boutique against this goal. Was being the owner and CEO of this firm helping me self-actualize? The answer was no. 

The firm was providing things to me that were no longer important. My basic needs for food, shelter, and the like were secured for a lifetime. Safety for myself and my family was stable and certain. I had an identity outside of work. My need to belong was being fulfilled elsewhere. And most importantly, I had answered my burning question. 

The firm was thriving. I had become wealthy and had received plenty of recognition. I was validated internally and externally. I had reached the point of diminishing returns. There was nothing left for me inside the boutique. 

After reading a book called Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance by Bob Buford, I realized where my journey needed to go. The next stage in my entrepreneurial journey was not owning a boutique but selling it. I then had my reason for selling a business.  

Top Ten Questions to Ask Yourself Before Selling a Business

When selling a business, you need to have a clear reason. And this reason needs to be personal and well-thought-out. If you are looking for a happy exit when developing your business exit strategy, these are the questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. Do you have a clear vision of your future?
  2. Will selling your business help you to get there?
  3. Do you know the reason why you do what you do?
  4. Would selling a business bring you closer to your purpose?
  5. Do you have a set of core values that define how you behave?
  6. Would selling your professional services firm allow you to behave the way you want?
  7. Do you know the type of community or tribe you want to be part of?
  8. Would selling your firm allow you to spend more time with this community?
  9. Will you be using the proceeds of the sale on more than just material possessions?
  10. Are you prepared to start your next chapter and sell your business? 

How you answer these questions will determine whether or not you are ready to sell a business. For example, if you answered yes to eight or more questions, you know your reason to sell. If you answered no to eight or more, do not sell your business. You are not ready to exit yet. 

Happy Exits Are Possible Once You Know Your Why

Every entrepreneur exits. We all die. You cannot run your boutique from the grave. Most of us sell our firms before we die. There are good exits. Some owners are happy after they sell. There are bad exits. Some owners are unhappy after they sell. 

So what will set you apart from those owners who have unhappy exits? A great business exit strategy starts with a genuine, passionate reason to sell. If you have this, then selling a business is the next logical step for your career. 

Join us today to learn more about how the Collective 54 mastermind community can help you sell your firm faster. Our community offers valuable and irreplaceable collective knowledge from peers and mentors in the professional services industry.