The Emotional Journey of Transition Planning

Joy. Sadness. Mourning. Doubt. Relief. Many business owners may experience all these emotions and more when they think about finding a way to successfully exit their business when the time comes. Whether the successor is family, an acquiring business, or an employee, the emotional ride of transition planning may be arduous and overwhelming.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. With a prepared and positive outlook on this intense process, business owners making their exit can move past the anxiety and find comfort in seeing their life’s work pass into capable hands.

It is a time when many difficult questions must be asked and answered, emotions can be triggered, and workload is at an all-time high. While some stress can be positive in the short-term, chronic negative stress leads to burnout and irreparable damage. You will want to take steps to avoid and minimize the impact of damaging stress during the transition process in order to feel healthy and ready to take on the future.

In order to minimize the stress, you experience during the succession process, consider the following:

Start Planning Early

Many business owners wait too long to start thinking about and planning for the transition of their business. Starting the development of the plan early gives you the time to make decisions, get advice, and do the work that will help put your mind and body at ease.

Seek Support

Extra work can be handled with an additional hand or two. The right questions asked by a skilled advisor can help you create a plan and navigate the emotional aspects of the transition. Assistance helps remove stress from many aspects of business succession.

Clearly Define the Plan

Understanding the steps involved to developing and executing the plan not only defines what needs to be done but why you are doing it. An advisor will clearly define the steps and timing throughout the process. The transition planning process can be overwhelming when you look at everything that needs to be accomplished. Breaking it down into smaller more manageable pieces will greatly reduce the stress.

The business succession process is not likely to be completely stress-free, but with planning, support, and focus on your needs, you can alleviate much of the stress and move to the next stage of life feeling your best.

We’ve interviewed and worked with many former business owners, when we asked how they felt just before selling we heard, “I was terrified”, “I sweated bullets” and “I was scared to death” from individuals who had courageously built very successful enterprises. Oddly enough when we asked how they felt afterwards we heard “I felt relieved”, “I felt tremendous weight dropped from my shoulders” and “I felt at peace”. In other words, the anxiety and fear were made much worse than the real thing and ultimately the payoff was worth the effort.

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