In 2013, I sold a business I had run for many years.
I learned more during that year than I did in almost any of my 35 years in the business world.
Besides everything I learned about the process of selling a business, I learned a lot about myself. I also learned, more than I ever had before, the power of knowledge.
It all started in 2007. That year, I received many inquiries from companies asking to buy my business, as well as investment bankers asking to represent me in the sale of my business.
And that freaked me out.
I was in my mid-40s, I was happy doing what I was doing, and the idea of giving up control to someone I didn’t know (new owners who might do who-knows-what with the business), gave me tremendous anxiety.
I felt relief when the calls stopped coming, sometime in 2008.
In 2012, the calls started coming again.
Once again, the idea of selling my business caused me great anxiety.
But then, in early 2013, I learned that three of my friends in similar businesses, in other parts of the country, had sold their companies on December 31, 2012. (A business can be sold any time of year, but December 31 is very common because it makes the accounting easier. Also, the capital gains tax rate was rising in 2013, a change which can be an impetus for business owners to sell or, if they were already planning to sell, to make sure to close their deals before the new year.)
When I learned my friends had sold their businesses, I reached out to each of them. When we connected, I asked:
- Why did you sell your business?
- What was the process like?
- What did your employees think when you told them?
- What did your clients think?
If I had 20 concerns about selling the company which had been giving me anxiety, I knocked it down to a handful because of those calls – an indelible lesson for me: knowledge is power.
There is good stress and bad stress, but anxiety is never good. If there are situations in your life giving you anxiety, I strongly recommend you work hard to alleviate that anxiety.
Last year, amidst the pandemic, one of my colleagues told me a saying he learned from his dad: Action Alleviates Anxiety – attacking a situation helps reduce sleepless nights thinking about it.
Knowledge is one of the keys to doing knowing what action to take, and knowledge can be gained by speaking with others who have dealt with similar situations, by talking things out with family and friends, or by speaking with a therapist to help you get to the bottom of exactly what about the situation is causing the anxiety.