It happens. You own a small business and something gets in the way. A recession. A pandemic. A family emergency. Whatever the root of your business woes – it sometimes gets to a point where your only choice is to lock the doors and walk away.
It doesn’t have to get there. If you plan ahead you can sell your business and get a return on all of the investment you’ve made long before you have to make any fatal moves.
A big, big caveat here. It takes time to sell a business, even one deeply discounted out of desperation. Most buyers aren’t going to want a train wreck – so if you foresee a struggle approaching it’s better to cash out before the situation becomes unfixable. If you’re feeling nervous about the future of your business talk to an experienced and qualified business broker now. Tell them what’s happening and ask if it’s time to list or if your exit strategy can wait a bit longer.
If your heart isn’t in it anymore, if your personal life needs way more of your attention than you can successfully give while still maintaining your business, if the metrics are telling you that you are no longer making enough for the business to sustain itself – it’s time to have that serious conversation. No one wants to admit defeat, but it’s better to admit defeat before there’s nothing left.
Selling your business or walking away doesn’t mean your life as an entrepreneur is over. It just means this path isn’t the right one at the moment. You can take the proceeds from your sale and invest in a different business or you can take some time to deal with whatever issues forced you to leave. There are very few successful business owners who got it 100% right the first time out of the gate, so be realistic with yourself and don’t give up on your goals because this time something got in the way.
If you are past the point of no return and are left with just liquidating assets, you probably need to do that before the landlord takes over. Read your lease carefully to see where the line in the sand is – where the landlord has the right to lock you out. Once that happens anything inside that business now belongs to them.
The message here is failure happens, but failure doesn’t have to cost you more than it should. You can get back a return and move on to something else.
Are you a struggling business owner who isn’t sure if it’s time to pull the plug? Have you owned a business you should have sold and have an experience to share? Leave any questions or comments here, or feel free to contact us if you feel like it’s time for that serious conversation – we’re here to help.
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