This article are provided for information purposes only, and are not intended as legal advice.

How do you know when it is time to sell a business?

March 9th, 2010

You have owned your business for many years, you are thinking of retiring but you are still wavering.  Many entrepreneurs spend so much time in their business that they do not have any hobbies.  What will you do next?  Do you want to retire, enjoy life or keep going.  Do you want to sell your business?  Some people do not like change. 


Not far from my office was a farmer who was in his late 80’s.  His real estate was worth millions of dollars yet he lived with no electricity for many years.  Money meant absolutely nothing to this person.  Part of his property had been expropriated years before by the government and he had $2 million sitting in a trust account which he never picked up.  When he finally collected his cash, he bought a used car because he did not want the neighbours to know he had cash.  Although he had signed a sales agreement for the sale of the farm, he did not move off the land at the end of the five year term.  In fact he ended up staying over ten years before he left.  He was afraid that all the other farmers in the area who moved from their property all died within a year.  He did not want that to happen so he stayed.   He had sold the property for over $10 million but at that age, he never had money, did not need the money nor want the money.


This is clearly a case where someone was afraid of retiring, they liked their way of life, they wanted to continue to live as long as they could on the property.  The property is now being developed which means that he probably passed away. 


What other signs are their for wanting to retire – mortality.  I knew of a gentleman who was 79 years old, lost a daughter three years before and was finally looking at estate planning but he did not have any hobbies, did not need any more possessions therefore he was not ready for retirement.  The business ran day to day without him therefore he had no urgency to retire.


Others realize as they get older, they can’t remember things and are not as sharp.  A pharmacist who can’t remember or read prescriptions can provide the wrong medications to the public.  This has happened on more than one occasion.  Although the pharmacist did not want to retire, his children convinced him that it was not safe to continue to operate the business.


If the children are too young or they do not have any promise of being able to run the business, do you wait until they are 40 before deciding that they are not capable of running the business?  How long do you wait for your children?  What happens if your children followed you in the same training that you did however they do not want to enter into the family business?  Are you disappointed or will you accept that no matter what you say, they do not realize that there is a phenomenal opportunity that they can have but they do not realize it.  You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make them drink. 


In this situations, it is time for you to look after yourself rather than trying to look after the family if they have no interest in entering the family business.

Filed under: Selling a business — Gary Landa @ 12:12 pm

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