A client recently keyed me into a great way to figure out What’s Next after I sell my business. She told me these 9 not-so-secret tips. So, I thought I’d share them with you. Hint, if you want to benefit the most from them, think in the past and then project into the future.

What Is “What’s Next?”

It’s a phrase intended to frame your future after you have sold your business that was developed by the Successful Transition Planning Institute, LLC (STPI) in Cambridge, MA. Not to be confused with a somewhat unrelated (in intent) phrase, “What’s Up!” There is a process behind the phrase, and a full-blown coaching program, so here are the other tips. As an STPI Transition Planning Consultant I work with owners to guide them through this process.

What Are You Doing Now?

In this tip, think about what your current role as the business owner is and how long have you occupied this role. I know you are the owner, but what hats in the business are you wearing? More importantly, the follow up question is why? Why are you wearing these hats? Your answer to this tip will be helpful further on in your selling process.
Before You Go There, You Have To Know What Got You Here

This is a different iteration of a common phrase, but it works, nonetheless. The objective lies in understanding and appreciating your past identity – the activities and situations you went through as you grew up, and what you learned from those experiences.

Talk About Your Family

Yes, do you have a spouse, partner, or significant other? Siblings? Children? Parents? How old? What are they doing and where are they? Answering this tip helps you to understand better your current “family matters” discussion as you look at leaving your business.

What Are Your Hopes – And Perhaps Your Fears – About Your Future?

This tip can help you start to better frame the “why you need to get serious” about selling your business. I continue to find owners with hopes, yet I also continue to find owners avoid embracing and working through their fears. The fears often color the objectivity to your hope, so learn to embrace and work through the fears.

Youth Brought Enjoyment, What Were Your Yours?

This tip helps you understand that your more youthful years had joys. Yes, I expect there was some sorrow and disappointments – I certainly had those. But by remembering those joys, that enjoyment can help you cultivate a newer appreciation for the future. One on my friends, a historian, would say “we can always learn from our past.” Well, what did you enjoy when you were younger?

What Thoughts And Emotions Occur To You When You Think About Selling Your Business?

This tip starts your emotional journey into business transition. The thoughts and emotions you may have will help determine your readiness. Are you reluctant, ambivalent, hopeful, optimistic, sad, relieved? As you start this process, write down some of your thoughts. They can help you to move through the process.

Do You Have An Ideal Scenario For Selling Your Business To A New Owner?

This next to last tip can help frame out what you hope to achieve in selling your business. My suggestion is to think broadly, trying not to limit your thoughts and aspirations. It will help you focus better as you go through the process. As you are creating this scenario, it is quite possible you will start having some worries, concerns, and fears. That’s natural, so be sure to write these down.

When, How Much, And To Whom?

This last tip essentially asks you to think about when you want to sell your business, along with how much money you need to live your new life, and has you start to think about who you would want to buy your business. Regarding the last part of this tip, perhaps it is to an outside buyer, or a trusted employee, or a family member, or to someone who is respected in your industry. There are several other options and I list these for illustration.

So, What’s Next?

As you start the What’s Next process your engagement in transition thinking will help you to broaden your mind, expand your ideas on what is possible, and can open you up to new possibilities for the future. If you get stuck, talk with an expert to guide you through this process. You will benefit if you develop this process with a trusted group of advisors.

Remember, it’s a process that takes focused time and energy and usually is done with a group of expert and trusted advisors who can guide your through the personal and business decision and options process while you continue to run your business.