Starting and building a successful small business is no minor achievement, and for many entrepreneurs their final reward is when they come to sell that business on for a profit. It can be a bittersweet time, letting go of something into which you have poured an awful lot of work, but nothing better illustrates the success you have had than someone else being ready to part with big money to take your business onto their books.
Of course, if you have been running a business for some time, then selling it on does immediately present you with a challenge: where next? What do you do once you have stepped away from ownership and control of something that’s been so vital to you? The answer is that it all depends on you – and there is no shortage of choices you can make when it comes to moving on.
Option #1: Do nothing right away
Successful small business owners tend to have something in common – they are micromanagers who don’t spend a lot of time away from the business they own. An entrepreneur that takes anything more than ten days a year off is a rarity. So when you first sell your business, don’t do anything. You will possibly already be having ideas for your next business, but keep them quiet for now, get some rest and try to have some leisure time; rushing back to business will do you no favors health-wise. Take a holiday, spend time with your family, learn a language. You’ve worked hard, now you need to learn to step away.
Option #2: Help other entrepreneurs
Depending on how lucrative the sale of your initial business was, and how much money you want on hand to launch the next company, you could find some benefit in helping others follow the path you took to get here. Angel investment is one way of approaching this, boosting businesses that you believe will be useful to others. Working with the likes of The Dealmaker’s Academy and buying an interest in a business is another option which doesn’t require you to return to the head of a business but could make you money and keep your eye in.
Option #3: Set up as an expert
When you are running a business, you are always running that business. Even when you go to bed in the evening, the business survives or falls because of what you do. If you feel that you have a lot to offer in and to your sector, then once you have sold your business you can look at ways to assist it with your expertise. You could, for example, set up as a consultant or troubleshooter, offering your advice on issues that you have met and overcome as a business owner. You could become a civic leader, and if you are politically inclined potentially even seek to get elected into office where you can bring your experience to bear on the decision-makers whose laws and regulations can make or break businesses.
Chances are that at some point after selling a business, you will look to start another using all the experience you have gained – but before you take the decision to do that, it may be worth exploring the other ways that you can benefit from not being in the hot seat.