Selling your business can be tough. There’s the to-do list of getting the business and your books in order, the extra workload of providing everything a buyer asks for during due diligence and the stress of negotiations. At the end of the transaction process you have to hand over the keys to a business that has been your blood, sweat and tears – usually to a buyer who is essentially a complete stranger.
This last bit of the process, the part where everything becomes final, can bring out an emotional response that sometimes surprises business sellers. Those big emotions can be exacerbated when you really, really don’t like the buyer. Sometimes the distaste for a buyer can even derail a deal.
Here’s how to keep that from happening:
Is the problem is the buyer, or you relinquishing control?
Business owners are a particular breed. They’re decisive, strong-willed and hard working. Most have a type-A personality. This is a great personality while you’re in charge of your business, but it can cause issues when the time has come to hand over the reins. In the vast majority of cases buyers are going to come into a business and make changes. Changes that maybe you as an owner would never make – and the relinquishing of all control over the fate of your business can cause a seller to balk. You need to understand that not only are changes likely to happen, you are probably going to have this kind of negative reaction. Remember that just because the choices this buyer wants to make don’t align with your own – they are likely still a good buyer, perfectly capable of purchasing and running your business. Sellers who aren’t prepared to let go will often project their strong emotions onto their buyer, deciding that it’s the buyer who’s the problem. If you know going into the process that you might feel this way you can be better prepared to keep your big emotions from impacting your deal.
Is the problem a clash of personalities?
The transaction process can be a long one, sometimes forcing together two people who really struggle to maintain a professional relationship. Maybe you and your buyer have differences of opinion on how the business should be run. Maybe you and your buyer fundamentally disagree about everything under the sun. Wherever the clash of personalities comes from, it can be really difficult to remain objective during meetings, negotiations and the like when your buyer is someone you would never engage with in any other situation. If this is the case for you, slow down and take a breath. Remember that point of this transaction isn’t for you and your buyer to be best friends or work together forever. The point is to get to a closing table and get a financial return on all of your investment of time, energy and money that you’ve put into your business. It can be really helpful in the high stress moments to keep your eye on the prize. This type of situation is also where your business broker can be instrumental in the success of the transaction. If you don’t like interacting with the buyer – don’t. Use your broker as a buffer between you for as many situations as possible.
It can be difficult to get a deal to closing when the parties involved aren’t fond of one another- but it’s not impossible. Think about where the animosity is coming from for you, remind yourself that this process doesn’t last forever and keep your broker in the middle.
Have you tried to sell a business and had personality issues with a buyer? Do you have questions about how a business broker can act as a buffer during the transaction process? Please fell free to share your experiences or ask questions. We would be happy to help.
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