How to Tell When It’s Time to Sell Your Company

Javi Fondevila

The saying goes that all good things must come to an end, and business—or, rather, your entrepreneurship—is no exception to this. You have come a long way, your business has grown up, it has all the right tools, a dedicated team of staff, and now you think it might be time to get out and say goodbye.

How do you know if it really is, though?

Owning your own business can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences, but it is not always viable to be running it. As time goes by and the years add up, there are more and more reasons to seriously consider selling a business. The difference between doing a good job of this and falling flat on your face depends on whether or not it is time to sell a business.

Knowing When It’s Time to Sell a Business

Here are some of the signs that it might be time to pack up and sell.

1. You are feeling burnt out

Although you may have loved been an entrepreneur once, not everybody is built to do it for life. Maybe you want to retire, have a change of career, experience a change of pace, or simply kick back and enjoy the fruits of your success. Whatever the reason may be, if you are feeling burned out and are dreading managing your business day-to-day, it is a classic sign that it may be time to sell a business.

Owning a business isn’t always glamorous—it involves a lot of hard work and stress, and if this has finally taken its toll then you should consider passing on the buck.

2. Your business has outgrown you

Often, founders of businesses find that they are outgrown by them. As the business begins to grow and go from strength-to-strength to establish itself as an industry leader, you may find that you are less of an asset to the company as you once were. The nature of your company’s talent has changed, and your skill set no longer fits in.

This can be a hard pill to swallow, but swallow it you must. The best entrepreneurs can recognize and accept this before it is too late, and they start causing more harm than good.

Let’s take sales as an example—an entrepreneur is obviously a great salesperson, but how essential are this person’s skills when the company is turning over millions per year?

3. Life starts to get in the way

This happens more often with entrepreneurs than regular people working regular jobs. It is a classic sign that it is time to pack up and sell a business.

Although your business may feel like your life’s work—and in many cases, it is—in the grand scheme of things, there are other obligations that are far more important and should take precedence over it. If you find that life is starting to get in the way and you are constantly having to make a choice between your business and, for example, your family, it may be time to go.

4. You are getting on in years

Sometimes the biggest reason to sell a business has nothing to do with the business itself, but with you—is it time to retire?

As you start to age, there are more and more practical reasons to sell up and move on. Primarily, you can earn a significant amount of money by selling your business which can help fund your retirement years. While you could continue living off your company’s income, wouldn’t you rather enjoy your twilight years rather than focus on running a business?

5. The market has changed

If the nature of the market has changed and has hurt the relevance of your business, maybe it’s time to come up with an exit plan and sell up. Recognizing that your company has outgrown its initial market (and perhaps your skill set) can be difficult to accept, but it needs to be something you think about.

Look at the current way the world is going—everything is digitizing, and the planet is on a digital trajectory that was never anticipated and no business is safe.

Your business could be one next big app away from becoming irrelevant.


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