Selling your business can unearth a treasure trove of emotions about your life’s work, your future, and your purpose in the world. Entrepreneurs are inherently driven. This allows them to single mindedly prioritize their business. This mental toughness is a key skill, but it can also conceal a number of psychological vulnerability that make selling your business difficult.

Are You Really Ready to Sell? 

Every business owner toys with thoughts of selling their business, especially when times get tough or as they approach retirement age. Some have clear goals. Others have vague visions of life on a winery or golf course.

But there’s a difference between having fantasies about a post-business life and being truly ready to sell. Have you thought about what you want from your retirement? Have you thought about how the sale of your business might affect your self-esteem?

These psychological factors are important, because if you’re not mentally prepared to sell your company, you may sabotage the sale without even knowing it.

Are the Conditions Right for a Sale? 

External variables such as an unexpected offer sometimes get an owner’s gears turning about the possibility of a sale. Maybe your health is failing or you need more time with family. While these motivations are certainly reasonable, when you’re pushed into a sale by something beyond your control, you may make unwise decisions.

You need to know whether market conditions are favorable. You also need to understand your own internal conditions. Does selling now align with your values and goals? If not, is there a way to shape a sale that could align with your needs?

Entrepreneurs: Which Type Are You? 

We’ve all taken personality tests, but which type of entrepreneur are you? An honest assessment of your relationship with your business can help you determine whether you’re truly ready to sell:

  • Prepared owners sell when the market is right and they’re psychologically ready. They have an exit plan, and they can envision a future beyond business ownership.
  • Enmeshed owners feel trapped. They can’t imagine the business surviving without them, and can’t image themselves in any other role. Their business is who they are.
  • Unprepared owners have spent so much time working that they haven’t spent any time planning for the day when they no longer run the business.

Are you invested in your business, or owned by it? Is your business your lifestyle, or just one career move? The goal is to make your business work for you—not to make your business your sole identity and only hobby.

Preparation is all about finding ways to control the fruits of a lifetime’s worth of work. That can take some time. You may need a financial and business plan. You may also need to dig deeply into your own psychology. But doing both can mean a more lucrative sale and a brighter retirement. The investment in sale preparedness is an investment in your own future, as well as the future of your business.