For a lot of startup founders, selling their business is the end goal – but how does it actually feel to reach this huge milestone?
Viewabill founder and CEO Robbie Friedman details the ups and downs of handing over your business in a recent LinkedIn article.
Friedman says, like every startup founder, he used to “pray for the day when the clouds would split and an angel from heaven would descend unto the earth” to announce the acquisition.
But in reality when it happens there is no fanfare. Prepare yourself as you begin to reflect on the years of exhaustion and “blood, sweat and tears” you’ve dealt with for so long.
“It felt like just another day, with all the ups and downs to which I’d grown so numb.” Friedman shares some key insights into the selling process:
The process is clinical: The outcome relies on everyone going through the motions, from your lawyers, consultants and accountants to your management team. You’re emotionally invested, but everyone else is just trying to do their job.
The acquisition will drain your resources: “There’s no surviving a failed acquisition. So the CEO’s job, once acquisition discussions have begun, is to finish the job.”
Money is important, but not always the reason you do things: “As a founder or CEO, the day an acquisition closes should be a pretty good day, financially. But I’ve been surprised how little the money matters, post-close.”
And even though a huge focus is on money whenever there’s an acquisition, this becomes less significant once it’s all said and done, he says.
“If anything, it’s an empty feeling because you’re no longer thinking about future potential; instead, you’re just left wondering if you would do it all again,” says Friedman.
“And the answer is: yes. You would. Because you don’t start a startup to be rich. You do it because it’s an avenue for a normal person like yourself to take a turn at being wildly creative. Money is good, but it's not the reason to do anything.”
Here are three tips for selling your company:
1. Only enter acquisition discussions when you’re ready to sell because as soon as you enter negotiations your day-to-day running of the business is going to suffer.
2. Get to know your list of potential buyers and start building relationships early – then, when it is time to start negotiations, you have multiple interested parties.
3. You must build an attractive set of statistics. Buyers look specifically at how many people buy what you sell in your market and how many more potential customers you could attract.