Any entrepreneur who has spent time and money building up a business knows how attached to it you become. All those hours of hard work and all those evenings and weekends spent making it profitable make it something to which you grow very close.
However strongly you feel about your business on a personal level, you should always have in mind that there will likely come a point when you need to let it go. This could be a purely business decision or something that you need to do for personal reasons. That makes thinking about such a possibility and having the right exit strategy in place an important issue.
Classic signs it is time to let your business go
The problem for many business owners is that they simply do not know when they should sell or what signs to look out for. By looking into the tell-tale signs that signal it is worth calling it a day, you will already be ahead of many other entrepreneurs.
Here are some of the classic signs that it is time to say goodbye.
- You need time for other interests – if you run your own business, you know how much time it takes up. Most business owners will work all week, part of the weekend and a few hours each night! This tends to happen whether it is a start-up or an established, successful company. The problem here is that it leaves you no time to pursue other interests that you may have. This is seen in the case of founder of M1 Group, Najib Mikati, who sold up in 2006 to focus on his political ambitions. Doing this allowed him the time to focus on his political career and eventually to become prime minister of Lebanon. Without selling his business, it is not certain Mr. Mikati would have had the time to become such a central figure in the region’s political landscape.
- Your health is suffering – if you find yourself stressed out, unable to switch off from work pressures and not enjoying running your business then it is time to get out. All businesses go through sticky patches but if you find the whole process stressful constantly, then you need to sell. Nothing is more important than your health and continuing to lead a company that is damaging to you on a personal level is unwise.
- Business is not making any money – again, all businesses will have slow periods or times when profits fall, but if you never make any money that is a sign to take note of. The main aim in business is to make money so if you are not doing so on a regular basis then you should consider calling it a day. It may be hard to sell for any decent amount but at least you will get some back and not be pouring in more cash that you will never see back.
- Someone makes you an amazing offer – in general terms, if someone makes you some kind of unbelievable offer for much more than you think your business is worth, then take it. This is also true if you think your business has hit its peak and will only decrease in value going forward. Some people have a tendency to always hold out for a better offer, however, if $5 million is on the table when you think your business is only worth $1 million, it is definitely best to take it.
- Poor work/life balance – another sign that you need to look out for is whether you have a good work/life balance. This can be tricky as all business owners will work long hours and often have to put work first. However, if you find that you spend all your time working and no time with your family, this is a sign to sell up. Money cannot buy the time you will lose otherwise, and you might find it is the best thing you ever did.
Look out of the signs that you should sell
The issue for many entrepreneurs is twofold. Firstly, they are simply reluctant to let go of a business that is close to their heart and has taken them years to build. Secondly, they are so busy they do not even see the signs above that selling is for the best. With this in mind, it is key to keep one eye out for them so you can act if and when needed.