There could be any number of reasons to leave the business you've built. You might have achieved all your goals and dream about a change of scenery, or you may want more time to focus on your health or family.
You may have sold your business earlier than you expected. Someone might have made you an offer out of the blue, and although you hadn’t considered selling at this point, the offer made you re-evaluate your future. Or you might have decided that now's the time to pass the reins to your successor and pursue new opportunities.
Whatever the reason, it's never too early to start planning the next stage of your life - and it doesn't have to be retirement. At least not in the traditional sense.
If you're tired of the 9-5, but still want to be involved in the business. Going part time may be the best option. In this instance, you’re deciding not to put in a 9-5 day anymore – or whatever your working day amounts to. You can delegate your responsibilities to others, allowing you to step away from day-to-day management of the business. However, you may decide to retain some or all of your ownership, giving you an ongoing income stream and some control over the business you've built. So you'll still be spending some time at work, but the rest of the week you're free to do your own thing.
Merge with Another Business
This option also means you might be able to take things a bit easier while still retaining some involvement in the business. Merging with another company could offer the opportunity to let others take over the day-to-day business, as mentioned above.
Selling and Walking Away
If you’ve been fortunate enough to build a business that can sell for a considerable amount - well done! It’s the goal of most entrepreneurs to not only run a successful business, but also to realize a capital gain at the end which can see them onto the next stage of their life with a sizeable nest egg. The next step is to decide what you're going to do with the proceeds of the sale. Those options could include investing in the next phase of your future.
Protecting the Proceeds
You’ve worked hard to build up a successful business, and you’ve been able to sell it for a good price. Now it’s time to protect those proceeds, so that you can be sure of a stable future. The best ways to do this are:
- Consider a diversification plan. Your financial advisor can help you to put together a diversification plan that’s tailored for the amount you’ve received, your age and your future plans.
- Consider passive income options, such as commercial real estate.
- If you've received a mix of cash and shares in the company that bought you out, check to see how you can realize gains according to the dividend policy. Determine the best way to hedge against a downside on the stock you receive, because the last thing you want is to see what you thought was a significant return evaporating if the stock takes a hit.
- Review what exposure you have to any liability, especially if you’ve left money in the business that the new owner is paying back. If you've left significant assets in the business, make sure you retain the ownership until you are paid. It may be wise to resign as a director or owner, so you have no liability from trading.
Investing the Proceeds in Your Next Step
You've sold a successful business, but you're not ready to move into the retirement phase of your life yet. There are any number of options you could consider with the proceeds of your sale.
Become an Angel Investor
Angel investors are successful entrepreneurs in search of investment opportunities with promising businesses. They’re looking for a piece of the action, but they also have investment criteria and expectations. As an angel investor, you should expect:
- An equity stake in the business you're considering
- A return on your investment – angels invest in promising companies with an expectation of making money within a reasonable time frame.
- An exit – angels want to know what the end game is. For example, is a public offering or acquisition likely?
When you're considering businesses to invest in, look for:
- A sound business plan.
- Working prototypes.
- Customer contracts.
- A record of sales.
Become a Venture Capitalist
Venture capitalists typically invest in young companies they anticipate will be sold to the public, or to a larger company, at a high rate of return. Like angel investors, venture capitalists (VCs) provide funding in exchange for shares in a business. Unlike angel investors, VCs invest on a much larger scale – typically millions of dollars. They rarely invest in an untested idea, preferring businesses that can demonstrate rapid, consistent growth and guarantee a worthwhile return. As shareholders, venture capitalists earn a portion of annual revenue – but the real profit isn't made until the company is sold.
If you're considering becoming a venture capitalist, look at businesses that are:
- In a fast-growing industry (for example, information technology or biotechnology).
- Part of a large market (for instance, one that generates $1 billion or more in revenue).
- Poised to take first or second place in that market.
- Have a solid and up-to-date business plan for continued sales growth.
- Supported by a proven management team that can generate high revenue.
- Able to bring in investment returns of 20% to 30% each year.
Buying Another Business
During the time you spent running your previous business, you might have spotted an opportunity to purchase another one - a competitor, or a supplier, or something entirely unrelated. You may decide to use the proceeds of your sale to fund the purchase of the new business with the intention to run it. If you are buying a competitor, think carefully about how you'll feel about going into competition against your previous business.
Starting a New Business
You may have decided to sell your business to fund a new one, to get a new idea off the ground and take it to market. It can be daunting starting from scratch again, but this time you're entering the marketplace with a solid business background behind you. You'll still need to go through all the steps of starting a new business - business plan, marketing strategy, funding options - but you'll have a much better idea of what to expect. And you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you've founded and run more than one successful business - a true entrepreneur!
Deciding to walk away from the business you’ve built up doesn't mean you're ready to retire. You may decide to investigate any of the above options for the next phase of your life, or you might decide to do something altogether different.