One of the hardest things for somebody who has built up a business from scratch is to let go. This is quite understandable and on the face of it beyond reproach. After all, this business has probably consumed the vast majority of the founder’s waking hours over a period of 20, 30 or even 40 years.
Some of them will have ruined their health, personal relationships or their family lives in the process but at least they have something to show for their endeavors, even if the journey was rocky and stressful.
Herein lies the heart of the issue.
Letting go is more than a financial decision, it is an emotional one. Their successful business is not just a means to make money, it is an extension of their persona. Quite literally sometimes, if it bears their name and their car sports a number plate alluding to their company.
So why not carry on forever?
If it is no longer a financial consideration surely it won’t make a jot of difference to them if the day comes when they are forced to sell it usually by dint of health or wanting to move abroad. They’ll appoint a broker to market it and they’ll pocket the proceeds whatever they may be at the time, even if not what it could have achieved in its prime only a few years earlier.
Precisely because their whole persona and daily life is wrapped around and intertwined with the business is the very reason why waiting too long can be a devastating blow to their morale. Imagine the angst as they watch the prospects of the business splutter and run out of steam. It becomes personal but it’s nobody’s fault is it?
Tell them to look in the mirror as they come to the realisation that what may have been worth several million pounds only 3 years ago is now only worth a third of the sum today. But it’s not about the money is it?
Yes and no.
The £s themselves are neither here nor there in the greater scheme of things for this individual but they will have to live every day with the thought that they have given away their life’s work or worse still, they have been ripped off by an unscrupulous buyer who has taken advantage of their situation.
I suppose it is analogous to a talented sports player or politician who doesn’t know how to quit when they’re on top.
Life is about more than money.
You cannot beat that warm tingle and inner sense of satisfaction that you get each time you reflect on a successful business career that has a happy ending.
Some things in life you can’t buy, but you can sell.