Article provided by Brent Soloway, ChFC®, November 1, 2017

Selling (or gifting) the closely-held business you’ve built over many years, or even decades, is a daunting task. But for many entrepreneurs, the biggest challenge is not finding the right buyer, or selling for the highest price. Rather, it’s the dawning of a “new life” where you are no longer “A Business Owner”.

As an entrepreneur, you may have spent most of your life starting, building, and running a successful company. Without realizing it, you may have developed a deep, emotional connection to your business and, for better or worse, it has not only become an important part of your daily life, but also a huge part of how you see yourself. Your self-esteem may be largely a reflection of who you are, “A Successful Business Owner”.

When you wave goodbye to your business, it may be analogous to losing a family member. Sorrow, anger, a sense of loss; entrepreneurs experience a wide range of emotions during and, especially, after the sale of their business. It is important to channel these emotions in new directions, creating the next, exciting chapter of your life.

By proactively planning your exit, you may be more emotionally prepared for the transition. Your family members should also be involved in the exit planning process since the business has likely been a major part of their lives, and they may need time to adjust to the idea of someone else owning your company.

It is of paramount importance to lay out a solid plan for what you will do with the next stage of your life. You may want to speak with other entrepreneurs that have already gone through this major, life-changing event. Understanding what you may be facing, and getting advice from former entrepreneurs, may be extremely helpful in dealing with the inevitable emotions of being just another retired person.

You will most probably be flooded with emotions after you have transitioned out of the business. Upon reflection, former business owners may feel a sense of loss, as many have developed a close relationship with their employees. It may be best to avoid talking about the business with your former employees, and second-guessing business decisions of the new owner.

To sum up, it is important to understand that the emotions you may be feeling are real, but the bottom line is, you have moved on. Instead of looking backward, it's time for both you and the business to move forward. You have an exciting opportunity to embrace who you are as a person, not as a business owner. By establishing a sense of purpose and usefulness, you are well equipped to enjoy your new life.

Brent Soloway

Opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Raymond James.