Ben T. Smith IV, co-founder of Merchantcircle.com & Spoke.com (btsiv.com), discusses your expectations when you sell your company. These tips will let you know what to expect during the process and the outcome of selling.
- Be prepared for a drawn-out process
- The sale will become public before you anticipate
- Not everyone will have a positive response to the deal
- Anticipate a bit of seller's remorse
Having bought many companies and worked with the entrepreneurs during that process, as well as sold my company a couple of times, there are really four things I think you should be prepared for.
The first is, it always takes longer than it should. We all know no deal ages as well, at the same time, these deal processes always take a lot longer than they should. And you got to be prepared during that process to deliver momentum in your core business the entire time you’re going through the process.
The second thing you should expect is people are going to find out, whether it’s, you know, junior management team members because you accidentally sent an e-mail to the wrong person or whether it’s customers or whether it’s competitors. People are going to find out you’re going sell your – you’re in a process. You need to be prepared for how you message that while you’re trying to keep it as quiet as possible.
The third thing you should really expect is the negativity. There are going to be people who feel like it’s an unfair deal. There are going to be people who are disappointed in the results that you achieve. There are going to be people who think you made too much money. There are going to be people who think you shouldn’t sell. So you should really expect some frustration during the process to come back to you from other people.
And finally, the most important thing for a founder that you should expect when you sell your company is the seller’s remorse. I met very few individuals who sold their company who felt good about having sold it 30 to 60 days later. You need to just prepare yourself for that just like any of the process you go through. Once you sell your company, there’s going to be a down period. You’re going to be sort of in a loss because you’ve lost this thing that you were working on so intently. In fact, during the deal process is one of the most intense periods you were ever going to work and then suddenly it’s going to stop and you’re going to feel lost. Be prepared for that sense of loss once you sold your company.
You really have to decide whether you want to sell your company from the beginning or are you ready to sell what you’ve built all these years. And when you start that process and you’re going through this process of selling, you need to be prepared for a few surprises. And some of those surprises will actually going to come from within yourself, like being surprised after you have a victory and you sold your company, being surprised that you actually aren’t so sure you wanted to sell it, that effect.