There are many reasons a business owner decides it’s time to exit. Many exit when they are ready to retire. Some exit to pursue new opportunities in the same industry or because they’re ready to explore something different. Financial stress or strain can also compel owners to sell.
Mixed Emotions and Life Safety Consulting
No matter why you’re selling your business, the actual letting go of it can be harder than you expect! When the idea of selling turns into a reality, you can find yourself facing many unexpected emotions and unknowns. You might feel guilt for selling or leaving a business you’ve poured so much time and energy into building. You may feel a sense of loyalty to your team, especially if you own a family business.
You may also dread the idea of leaving an industry you’re still passionate about serving. Many fire and security business owners consider becoming life safety consultants for this reason. Life safety consulting lets them stay in the industry without the stress of daily business management.
Let’s look closer at the emotions some of our sellers experience and different ways to make letting go easier.
Feel Like You’re Quitting Your Business? Remember That Exiting is Actually a Good Thing
Have you heard the saying, “Quit while you’re ahead”? Sometimes, that can be good business advice. With careful planning and preparation, you can make a responsible exit. When you do, selling your business can be the best way to keep taking care of your team and your customers.
By leaving before you lose the interest or ability to manage the business well, you give your team a fair chance to adjust to your exit and stay successful. If you delay exiting because you feel guilty for leaving, you could wait too long. Then, the business could start to suffer. And that will leave you in the worse situation of needing to exit when the future is bleak. This can also hurt the quality of the offer you get for your business.
How a New Owner Can Bring Positive Change
New owners can bring a fresh perspective and exciting opportunities into your business. If the buyer is only interested in the financial acquisition of your company, this can give a promising manager or director on your team the chance to take on more responsibility. A large buyer may have the funding and resources to help your company expand into new territories, learn new skills, and offer better benefits.
While it will be hard for your team to see you go, it is better for you and for them to leave before you’re disillusioned or impatient.
You Can Stay Active in the Industry After You Sell Through Life Safety Consulting
For some, leaving the industry they know and love is just as hard as letting go of their businesses. The people who work in the fire and life safety industries have a tight-knit community. Many of them have decades of experience, are the second or third generations to work in the industry, and take great pride in their jobs. It’s a world few outside of it understand, which only makes those inside of it closer.
The idea of leaving this behind can be reason enough for some owners to hang on to their businesses for too long. But, there are other ways to remain active in the industry after you sell! Life safety consulting is one of these ways.
Life safety consultants are like business advisors for the fire and security industries. As a senior life safety consultant, you can help other companies in your industry learn how to run better. You can use your connections to help business owners find new resources and vendors. You can stay up to date on the latest code revisions and trends and help companies like yours stay ahead of them.
Some life safety consultants enjoy being advisors who can take on work by request. This allows retirees to make their own schedules while staying involved in the industry. Others move into being regular advisors of their own businesses after selling them. The company or investor buying your company may be interested in having you as their life safety consultant! This is especially helpful when the buyer does not have fire or security experience and would like to acquire more companies in the industry.
When Family Members Started or Work For the Business, These Things Can Help
If you own a family business, the selling process can be even more difficult. Some family members may not understand why you’re choosing to sell or may have had their own hopes for the future of the business. Others may just enjoy working with you and be sad to see you go! If you’re trying to handle your own emotions along with theirs, here’s a few things that may help:
- Communicate as much as you can, when you can. Waiting until a sale is in progress is not the time to break the news that you don’t plan to sell to a family member. Announcing the sale to non-family members at the same time as other employees could hurt feelings and isn’t always necessary. So, make your basic intentions clear when you can, and then share what you can directly with your family as you are able.
- Share your why, and your hopes for them. Explaining why it’s time for you to exit and what you hope to do afterwards can help your family remember that this impacts you in a big way, too. Sharing what you hope a new owner can do for the business will show your family how much you still care about their continued success. Being open and honest with them and showing you’ve put careful thought into placing them in good hands after you leave can calm hurt feelings.
- Tell them they’re free to go, too. Some of your family members may feel like they are still obligated to stay with the company, even after you leave. Giving them permission to seek new opportunities too can show you want what is best for them. It can also release them from any expectations of keeping the business going for you. Even if you want them to, it’s important for you to remember that may not happen. Being the one to say it first can keep the dialogue open.
Nothing is going to make selling a family business easy. But if you follow the tips above, it may make the process a little easier for everyone.
How Life Safety Consulting Can Make It Easier to Let Go
Life safety consulting can make your exit easier for your family and for you! It lets you keep one foot in the industry, and even your own business in some cases. You can adjust to your exit in phases. Instead of selling a business and leaving the industry at the same time, you can adjust to no longer owning a business first. Through consulting, you’ll still have a professional reason to interact with your friends, relatives, and connections in fire and safety.
As a life safety consultant, you can set your schedule and still make an income with more flexibility. This can help you phase into retirement, or into your new opportunity, with more security. Instead of feeling like letting go of everything at once, you can think of it as shifting how you’re involved. And this can be a much easier step!
Ready to Transition Out of the Daily Grind and Into Life Safety Consulting? Then Call Us!
At Acquisition and Funding Services, we help many fire safety and security integration business owners through the selling process. As a former alarm business owner himself, AFS owner Rory Russell understands the mixed feelings of his sellers. He also chose to stay involved in the industry himself after selling, by becoming a financial advisor and broker for other owners like him.
If you’re ready to take the next step towards selling your business, fill out our confidential contact form here. You can also call him directly on his cellphone at 800-354-3863. Today’s the day to start the conversations that will secure both your future and your company’s!