by Peter Hermann, an EO Nashville member and co-founder and CIO of BreatheAware
Shortly after Belmont Software Services made the INC 1000 list in 2011, one of my firm’s key business development channels dried up. By mid-2013 I had made a good dent in developing new growth areas, but it was happening too slowly. That fall, I accepted a buy-out deal that wasn’t everything an entrepreneur hopes for in an exit.
Around this time one of my Forum-mates taught me the term seller’s remorse. Seller’s remorse can mean regret from the terms of sale, but also describes the feeling some entrepreneurs have when their business is gone and wondering what to do next. For me this feeling was tied up with loss of identity, uncertainty and unfortunate strains in relationships with employees who didn’t understand the decision I’d made. It was a difficult time.
But I quickly found that old habits die hard. I began reverting to my old ways, considering new ventures, imagining possibilities, thinking less about the past, and diving into new work. Soon I found myself working with a friend on a technology product that teaches breathing and mindfulness via athletic training principles. I had a personal connection to these things from years of technology work, yoga, music training and athletics – I felt much more personally connected to this business than the last. The creative energy was flowing again and I felt the remorse start to melt away. The people around me began to notice. I had rediscovered my entrepreneurial footing and it felt good!
So what have I learned through the experience of letting go of my first truly successful business? I like to build things with other people. I like the thrill of the creative hunt. I like to solve problems by finding the right way through. Mostly, I like ideas that matter. If I can do these things, then I know I’m in the right business. If I can’t, I should be considering what’s next. How else could BreatheAware have possibly come to life?