By Dayne Falkenberg, EO South Africa member and managing director of Hi-Performance Learning, a customized learning firm that offers solutions that measurably enhance individual and organizational performance.
It was just after our tenth year in business that my partner and I decided to sell the business we founded. The decision to sell and exit the business was not taken lightly, and I learned a lot about what it takes to transition from business owner to business seller in the process.
We had been in the same business for a long while. We wanted to do something different, either together or on our own. Also, we had continually upped the bet on ourselves and our business from day one, and it was the key asset on which our families relied. The sale enabled us to take some cash off the table and pause before moving on to other ventures.
I learned a lot about the ins and outs of selling a business and exit planning. One of the main lessons I learned was to always trust my instincts, especially regarding the market. When it came to our company, I knew that we needed to sell and sell quickly. There was a clear window of opportunity in which buyers interested in our type of business had cash and were looking to buy.
Another lesson learned was the importance of gathering solid advice. I employed the services of a commercial lawyer and business broker, both of whom I knew and trusted. I also received fantastic insights from my Forum and Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) mentor at the time. I felt I had a formidable team behind me, and I was able to confidently negotiate more favorable terms. By having a think tank of peers by my side, I got the most out of the opportunity.
I also learned how important it is to hold the keys to the bank account until the last payment has been made. In my opinion, until the deal was paid for in its entirety, it was not complete; therefore, I would remain in the driver’s seat as the operational managing director. By staying on, I believe we kept a healthy tension between the parties, ensuring that the terms of the deal were kept on both sides and that there was minimal chance of losing my business assets without a full payment.
As it stands today, I still don’t know whether I am going to build or buy my next company, but that’s what makes entrepreneurialism so exciting.