Start With Simple Questions.
When I ask an owner who they’d like to sell to someday, they usually say “they’ve never really thought about it.” But if I turn it around, and ask who they DON’T want to sell to, the flood gates open: “I don’t want anyone who won’t take care of what I’ve built, my people, and our customers. This is my legacy, and even after I sell, I’m going to be connected to it forever. I put my heart and soul into this place.”
I know I’ll eventually have to decide what’s next, so why do I hate to even think about it, let alone talk about it?
Most owners tell me they like the “control of their destiny” that owning the business provides, and fear selling would result in loss of purpose and control. Then once we dig into things they realize the business is what’s controlling their destiny, not the other way around. The uncertainty is what they fear. If they just allow themselves to dream… the cycle of finding their new purpose, defining it’s execution, and acting will start again.
Selling a business takes time, especially if you want to maximize your returns.