A surprising number of people look ahead to the selling of their business before they’ve even gotten their new venture off the ground. This isn’t exactly the greatest foundation for building a business worth selling in the future.
If you’re an entrepreneur, a time will come when you need to consider “when do I sell my business?”
You may consider selling your business when you’re older and thinking of retiring. (Although this is probably the worst time as many businesses tend to sub-consciously “run down” when the owner is thinking more about their cruise destination than their customers.)
For others, the epiphanous moment might come before the business is born or even conceived. Many people dream of being the next big start-up, or creating a new app, website or program which will be bought out for millions of dollars by Facebook or Google. The vision of selling the business or idea comes before they have even bothered to ask the question “what business or idea should I create?”
Sure, it’s possible you could create the next big idea which will be subject to a billion-dollar buyout. The chances, however, of that actually happening are right up there with the chances of winning the lottery (or your chances of being struck by lightning whilst simultaneously being eaten by a shark who is wearing a tuxedo).
So how do the winners do it?
Before thinking about selling your business, you should first be focused on building that business. And if you’re thinking about building a business, you would do well to recognise this lesson from millenia ago:
When an archer is shooting for nothing, he has all his skill.
If he shoots for a brass buckle, he is already nervous.
If he shoots for a prize of gold, he goes blind.
He sees two targets, and he is out of his mind.
His skill has not changed.
But the prize divides him.
He thinks more of winning than of shooting.
And the need to win drains him of power.
– Chuang Tzu (300 BC)
In this proverb, Tzu is pointing out how distractions get in the way of … pretty much everything. Similarly, if you’re creating a business but are permanently distracted by the thought of selling it in the future, it’s going to struggle. Just as the archer has more skill when shooting for fun, your mind will be more ingenious in business when you are following your passion.
You’ll also be more prepared to go the extra distance.
Take Sara Blakely from Spanx.
As her business grew out of her garage, Blakely had to overcome crippling shyness, travel sickness and a fear of tall buildings, as she was asked to travel the world, presenting to large groups of clients in skyscrapers.
If she was doing it all only for the money, all this would have been almost too hard; but because she was following her passion, she simply did whatever it took.
She also had to face down a fear of heights when she was challenged to climb over 30 metres up a rope ladder dangling from a hot air balloon to meet Richard Branson. She faced this fear, not for the money, but for the chance to meet the mentor of all things fun in business, and to learn from him.
Blakely likes to paraphrase another fun billionaire, Warren Buffet: “I feel like money makes you more of who you already are. If you’re an asshole, you become a bigger asshole. If you’re nice, you become nicer.”
The quote is true of people, and also true of the business itself: if a business is only in business for the money, people can tell, and business won’t thrive.
Here’s another of my favourite FUNtrepreneurs, Steve Jobs.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do” ~ Steve Jobs –
This quote is key to answering the question: “So when is the correct time to sell your business? “
The answer, of course, is: When you are no longer passionate about it.
When you reach the point of life where you are no longer feeling your business is fun, and you wish to do something else with zest and enthusiasm – that’s the time to sell it to someone who is passionate about that field, and move on.
Discover (or re-discover) what you love and just do it. The world is waiting, anticipating.
What’s your next fun-filled move?