The Emotional Side of Exit Planning: Coping with Change

While much attention is often devoted to numbers and strategy, the emotional side of exit planning is often overlooked. However, it’s just as important to acknowledge. Use this guide to understand the basic emotions you may experience during the exit planning process and learn how you can manage them.

4 Emotional Components of Exit Planning

Did you know that many business owners don’t do any exit planning at all? The process does have its complexities, but ignoring it altogether can make your business journey much more challenging. To help ease the process and prepare for what’s to come, start by learning about a few of the emotions you may experience once you begin.

1. Excitement

two business owners celebrating

When you start planning your exit, a wave of anticipation may wash over you. Whether it’s the excitement of new beginnings, retirement, a fresh entrepreneurial venture, or simply having more personal time, it signals the start of something new and is a reminder of all of the possibilities that lie ahead. Anticipation and excitement can also serve as powerful motivators to propel you through the more intricate parts of the process.

2. Uncertainty

While anticipation fuels excitement, it can also give rise to anxiety. You may wonder: how will selling my business affect my life? How will it affect my employees’ lives? How will I uphold the legacy I created? Remember that these questions are natural, and it’s actually good that they arise, as answering them will help you gain clarity, make informed choices, and ensure a smooth transition, even if you aren’t planning to sell immediately.

3. Loss

For many business owners, their businesses are more than just a source of income. They’re a part of their identity. This means that selling your business is like saying goodbye to a big part of who you are. It can be difficult to detach from the roles and responsibilities that have defined you for years, and you may even feel guilty at the thought of leaving them behind.

4. Relief

As you finalize your exit strategy, you’re likely to feel two powerful emotions: relief and pride. A clear plan for your sale, regardless of whether you plan to sell in a year or ten years, provides a future roadmap and lifts the weight of uncertainty. This sense of assurance can also evoke feelings of pride as you reflect on what you’ve accomplished so far, knowing that you’ve completed yet another step of your business journey with diligence.

How Can You Prepare for These Emotions?

One of the best ways to prepare for your sale and the emotions it may bring is with proactive planning. However, planning isn’t always about the business aspects; emotional preparation is equally crucial. Engaging in open conversations about your feelings, setting realistic expectations, and understanding that it’s natural to experience a range of emotions during the exit planning process can significantly contribute to a smoother transition. To further prepare, also be sure to:

  • Acknowledge both positive and negative emotions
  • Remember that every business journey is unique
  • Build a support network
  • Focus on well-being
  • Celebrate milestones

Ready to Get Started On Your Exit Strategy?

Sunbelt Business Brokers has a team that truly understands the emotional side of succession planning. Our brokers are ready to do everything we can to facilitate a successful transition and help business owners exit their businesses with confidence. Find your local office to get in touch with a broker!

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