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How to Navigate Life After Successfully Selling Your Business Online

By Quiet Light
| Reading Time: 7 minutes

If you are like some entrepreneurs, you may be unprepared for life after selling your business. For many business owners, what should be an exciting new life stage can turn into a stressful or confusing experience. With the right preparation and planning, however, you can create a truly wonderful post-sale life for yourself and your loved ones.

In this article, we discuss several key things to do when planning for your post-exit life. These include:

  • Creating a plan to secure your financial future
  • Considering your friends and family members
  • Understanding how selling your business could impact your sense of purpose
  • Getting clear on how you want to spend your time

Related Article: Four Key Elements to Consider When Selling Your Website

Selling Your Business

Create a Plan to Secure Your Financial Future

Your company is likely your most valuable asset. Furthermore, a significant portion of the profit that you derive from your business comes when you sell it. Given this, you must create a plan to secure your post-sale financial future.

Build and implement a financial plan

Creating a successful life after selling your business starts with building and implementing a cohesive financial plan. The best time to create your plan is long before your business sale.

Given the importance of getting your finances right, it pays to work with a financial advisor when creating your plan. They can help you define and prioritize your financial goals, develop a strategy, and make key financial decisions. This could include how to best invest your money (money market accounts, mutual funds, index funds, real estate, etc.) as well as a long-term plan for ensuring that your hard-won profits sustain you throughout your lifetime.

“Creating a successful life after selling your business starts with building and implementing a cohesive financial plan.”

Post-sale tax considerations

Any financial planning that does not take into account your post-sale tax situation is incomplete. Again, the best time to start tax planning is long before you sell your company.

As a business owner, speak with your accountant to discuss what your expected tax burden will be. They can help you determine strategies to legally minimize your future taxes to help you secure your financial future.

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Create an income stream

Of course, part of your financial planning involves ensuring that you and your dependents have a sufficient income stream. There are many ways to go about this. The right way for you depends largely on your own personal preferences and financial needs.

For example, you could retain a stake in the business and remain involved in a limited role in exchange for ongoing compensation. If you prefer a clean break, you could explore ways to live off of the earnings from investing your profits.

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Of course, this will depend on how much money you are able to put into investments as well as your desired income.

Review your estate plan

Part of your financial plan will involve deciding how to protect your assets to ensure they pass to your beneficiaries. It is never too early to start thinking about this matter. If you haven’t already, be sure to set up your estate plan to protect the younger generations in your family.

Be sure to seek the appropriate guidance to ensure your estate plan is fully enforceable. A lawyer who deals with estate plans or wills and trusts is the person to speak with about these matters.

Consider your philanthropic and legacy goals

Many owners who sell their businesses have philanthropic goals in their post-sale life. Once you have secured your financial future, it is natural to think about how you can give back. Indeed, you may find engaging in philanthropic pursuits to be a key part of enjoying retirement.

Find the issues or causes that appeal to you, create a plan, and implement it. As always, be sure to work with your financial advisor to make sure your charitable giving doesn’t negatively impact your personal finances.

“Indeed, you may find engaging in philanthropic pursuits to be a key part of enjoying retirement.”

Consider Your Friends and Family Members

When asked what they would like to do with their new life post-exit, many entrepreneurs answer, “Spend more time with family.” It’s true that having the freedom to spend more time with the people you love may be the most rewarding part of achieving a successful exit.

At the same time, having more time can be both a blessing and a strain on the most important relationships in your life. Being aware of both aspects can help you move on to the next phase and enjoy life more gracefully.

More time can help or strain family relationships

It intuitively makes sense that having more free time can help your family relationships. While you were running your business, you may have had limited time to spend with your partner, children, parents, or other family members.

Once the sale is complete, you will likely be able to spend much more quality time with your loved ones. Going for walks, engaging in meandering conversations, or watching your children’s sports games are now more possible. The quality time you spend will pay dividends in the form of stronger and closer relationships.

At the same time, more free time can present its own challenges. In any healthy relationship dynamic, whether it’s between partners or parents and children, having personal space and our own projects is important.

Understand that as your free time increases, it can change the dynamics between you and those you are close to. While this often brings positive aspects, it can also cause unexpected friction. With the right approach, you can maximize the upsides and minimize the downsides.

“When it is finally time to move on to the next stage, know that you may need to build a new social structure based on something other than your company.”

You may need to build a new social structure

For years, your business may have taken a significant amount of your time, thought, energy, and focus. Depending on the nature of your business, you may have spent 50 hours per week or more engaged in work.

As a result, your social circle may be intertwined with your business. Your employees, advisors, partners, suppliers, and other professional contacts may have been your primary social circle.

When you step back from your business, this can all change in the blink of an eye. For the vast majority of owners, this sudden social dislocation can be disorienting. When it is finally time to move on to the next stage, know that you may need to build a new social structure based on something other than your company.

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Understand How Selling Your Business May Impact Your Sense of Purpose

Even in the best of circumstances, selling your business likely represents a significant lifestyle change. For many business owners, their business has been their main project for years or decades. With the sale of the business, it is natural for your sense of purpose and identity to undergo changes.

Be prepared to question your identity

You have put a huge amount of time, stress, tears, and energy into creating your business. Naturally, it may have become a significant source of pride and meaning for you. Likewise, you may derive satisfaction from being an owner, founder, or CEO.

For many entrepreneurs, giving up these titles and roles can cause them to question their identity. Without their business, who are they? These questions may be uncomfortable for some. Taking time to determine your new roles and identity in the world may be necessary in order to create a successful next stage of life.

Find a new purpose

Similar to questioning your identity, you may find that your purpose feels uncertain now that your business is no longer the focus of your attention and energy. While you owned and ran your company, you may have gotten a lot of purpose from stewarding your company through hard times and driving growth.

Without having a business to grow and manage, what is your purpose? Only you can answer this question. If you feel a sudden loss of purpose, reflect on the position that you find yourself in and determine your new North Star.

Get Clear on How You Want to Spend Your Time

Without a plan, it is easy for all of your newfound free time to slip by without noticing. While this may be fun for a bit, it can get boring in the long run. Besides, there are too many wonderful things to experience in life to let free time go to waste.

Travel the world

For many entrepreneurs, selling their business and traveling the world is a dream come true. Depending on your finances and interests, open-ended traveling could be a reality for you.

Many entrepreneurs or retired business owners spend significant parts of the year based in travel hot spots. These communities of expats and like-minded individuals make it all that much easier and more user friendly to explore the world.

“For many entrepreneurs, selling their business and traveling the world is a dream come true.”

If you have a family, traveling may be a little more complicated, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Many families use school breaks to explore new areas for weeks or months at a time. Or, if you want to, you can go all in and relocate your family to a new state or new country for a year or more.

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Pick up new hobbies

If you prefer to stay local, picking up new hobbies can be a great way to use your freedom. Once you sell your business, you have the opportunity to finally master the skills or enjoy the activities that you love doing.

Whether it’s joining a pickleball meet-up, skiing, learning a new language, or learning how to tango, now is the time to go for it. In addition to having a good time, finding a hobby can be a great way to meet new friends and develop your social circle outside of work.

“Like many entrepreneurs, you may find that your newfound freedom and time are best put to use in bringing a new business idea to life.”

Spend time with family

Spending more time with family is the cherry on top of a successful exit for many owners. Whether it’s being able to take your kids to school, go to their games, have more date nights with your partner, or just enjoy a slow morning, spending time with family is priceless.

Start or buy a new business

Depending on your post-sale financial situation, you may not need to work another day in your life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t want to. For many, starting or buying businesses is fulfilling in and of itself. Like many entrepreneurs, you may find that your newfound freedom and time are best put to use in bringing a new business idea to life.

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