Surviving the Emotional Roller Coaster of Selling a Business

Consider more than finances before signing on the dotted line.

illustration of a roller coaster

Podcast Transcript

Host: Dave Specht, National Development Manager for Family Dynamics, Wells Fargo Private Bank

Guest: Suzanne Mansell, Family Dynamics Consultant, Wells Fargo Private Bank

[Dave]:

Businesses are sold every day, and the owners typically approach these sales with meticulous financial preparation. But what about the nonfinancial impacts — both psychological and emotional — impacts of these transactions?

I'm Dave Specht, the Family Dynamics National Development Manager for Wells Fargo Private Bank, and I'm your host for "Your Financial Journey," a podcast series that explores questions families of wealth commonly face.

Today I'm joined by Suzanne Mansell, a Family Dynamics Consultant with Wells Fargo Private Bank.

Suzanne, based on your experience working with business owners, what are some of the first steps in preparing to sell a company?

[Suzanne]:

Well, Dave, these business sales are often complicated financial transactions, but there are a number of nonfinancial elements that often get overlooked that represent some of their biggest hurdles.

[Dave]:

Let's talk about those. What are some of the most challenging nonfinancial aspects of these transactions?

[Suzanne]:

Well, once a business owner sells their business, many challenging, unexpected emotions may surface. Business owners typically experience six emotions when selling their company.

[Dave]:

So let's talk about these six common emotions. What are they and how do they manifest themselves?

[Suzanne]:

Well, Dave, one of the first emotions is excitement, which comes from the pride and satisfaction of what they have accomplished with their business. This one is pretty obvious. Any business owner should feel good about creating something with enough value in the eyes of others that they would want to purchase it.

Secondly, not long after the excitement wears off, other feelings may emerge — such as fear or second-guessing whether they got the best price or whether their employees will be taken care of by the new owner.

[Dave]:

Interesting. So what else tends to happen next?

[Suzanne]:

They often feel a sense of loss and sometimes grief. When business owners don't have the business any longer, it is almost like losing a loved one. And many business owners realize after the sale that some of their closest relationships were with the employees, or suppliers, or customers and others that interacted with the business.

Along with those emotions can come a feeling of regret. Some owners struggle to find a new outlet for their energy and will even wish that they hadn't sold their company.

[Dave]:

So business owners can anticipate quite the range of emotions. What others can they expect?

[Suzanne]:

Some are overwhelmed by the new challenges this life stage presents. And many business owners created cash flow from their businesses and now they have to do that from their investment portfolios.

Finally, many business owners can eventually find contentment. Often it will take slowing down and rediscovering what they are passionate about to really find joy in this new life stage.

[Dave]:

So what advice would you give to business owners considering selling their businesses, Suzanne?

[Suzanne]:

Well, firstly, the most important thing to realize is that the emotions you will feel are normal. And, secondly, it is worth spending time and energy on preparing for your next life stage. And third, remember life goes on and this can be a time of great exploration, reinvention, and service.

[Dave]:

Those are great tips, Suzanne. To learn more about how Wells Fargo Private Bank's Family Dynamics Team can help you prepare for the nonfinancial challenges of a business sale, contact your Relationship Manager, who can introduce you to a Family Dynamics Consultant.

Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing your expertise, and thank you listeners for joining this podcast.

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