The Seller Remorse Stage of Selling a Business
Closing the deal can be the most challenging part of buying or selling an operating business. Valuations, investigations, and negotiations are complete and now it’s a matter of getting everything into writing in a form that satisfies everyone so that the transfer of ownership of the business can take place. However, you can definitely count on someone getting cold feet just before the closing. Be prepared for this! Anticipate it happening and then work through it logically, reasonably and unemotionally.
“Seller’s Remorse” doesn’t happen at any specific stage of the process. It can occur at any time and the usual symptomatic thoughts start going through the seller’s mind. “Do I really want to sell my business?” “At this price, am I just giving my business away?” “What if the new owner mistreats my long-time customers and loyal employees?” “What if I’m bored as soon as I retire?” “Who is this new potential owner? “Will he maintain the policies, the standards and the conditions that have enabled the business to survive the hard times and continue to prosper?” And ultimately, “How will I fill my days when the business is gone? Am I really ready for such a lifestyle change?”
With these concerns, it’s no wonder many Sellers agonize for months, or even years, before they reach the point of seriously considering a sale of the business. Ordinary human emotions occur whenever a new stage of life or change from the status quo is about to occur. It is a normal fear of the unknown and uncertainty about the future. If there is even a hint of doubt about selling the business, don’t begin the process. Wait until there is not one shred of doubt.
The Seller, at this point, should remember all of the circumstances that initially provided the impetus to consider selling the business. Having a plan and solid reason for selling the business in the first place will help smooth over these second thoughts. A sincere motivation to sell is not only important to facilitate a successful process, it is also important from the buyer’s perspective as well. Whatever the reason, there should be something other than dollars that motivates the sale. After all, if it isn’t valuable to own the business, no one would ever buy it.
“Seller’s Remorse” will usually pass as emotional preparedness evolves and a comfort level with the buyer is developed, enabling the seller to separate himself from the business and begin to focus on the new future.