5 Tips To Emotionally Prepare Yourself To Exit Business

Exit Business

Exiting a business is more than just a transaction, it is a life-changing transition. While many conversations are centered on types of documents to gather, timeline to achieve, or price to be negotiated if the business is up for sale, what is less talked about is the emotional repercussions involved in the exit process.

Maybe you have a defined goal such as the sale price, a specific buyer or a target date for when you retire. But, it can be challenging to keep your focus on that objective when your emotions tied to business make their way to the surface.

No matter how planned they are, business exits can be a monumental shift in the lives of business owners. The mental and emotional preparation should not be shrugged or be taken lightly. For many, their business is their “baby,” this is why even with intentions of exiting within a year or so, it usually takes longer.

The Emotional Strain of A Business Exit Is Real

There will be a myriad of emotions involved in this transition. However, there are two big emotions most business owners experience: excitement and grief.

Excitement: Perhaps you are already looking to the next chapter in your life. A long vacation, a second career or the free time to do what you want when you want.

Grief: Both in the days leading up to and following your business exit, you may feel a profound sense of loss for something you’ve worked for years to build.

It is normal to experience different emotions in varying magnitude during the various stages of an exit. The thought of leaving a company that you have dedicated so much time, resources, and effort to can be difficult to bear, especially if you’ve been there from the beginning.

When emotions are left unchecked, deals may fall apart. The last thing a potential buyer wants to hear from you are:

  • “I’m not ready to exit.”
  • “No one can run the business more than the way I do.”
  • “I am concerned about your ability to run this business like I do.”

To prevent these scenarios brought by heightened emotions, it is best to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally early in the business exit process.

Here are some tips you may consider to help you be emotionally prepared for the business exit:

1. Accept and confront the emotions that will arise during the process

Major life transitions are challenging and non-linear. One moment you feel thrilled about the exit, followed by waves of sadness. Consciously welcoming the emotions that come with it while reminding yourself that this is a transition that will eventually pass can eventually help you bounce back.

It is best to consider confronting your emotions in relation to your goals. Doing this keeps you focused so that your fears and doubts don’t cloud your judgment at every stage of the journey. Finding a healthy outlet like exercise, talking to a friend or a therapist are great ways to manage the emotions that arise.

2. Talk to business owners who have been through this process.

The one thing you can be sure of is that you are not the first or the last to feel emotional when you decide to leave your business. Consider talking to someone who has experienced the same thing. You can gain valuable insight from their experience.

Find out how people who have sold their business coped with the emotions by talking to them. Additionally, you can read several entrepreneurs’ exit stories online. Knowing others have been where you are and have successfully navigated the process provides valuable perspective and comfort knowing you are not alone.

3. Plan activities for the first six months after your exit.

Running your business while trying to manage the exit process can be consuming. The rush that  comes from closing the transaction fades might leave you idle and asking yourself what now?

The best thing to do is plan something such as joining a community or non-profit organization that you are passionate about, organize a trip you’ve been delaying for months, meet up with friends or family that you haven’t seen for a long time. TIt is important to use the time after the exit to rediscover (or start) hobbies or exploring new opportunities.

As you exit the business, take advantage of the opportunities you will encounter, instead of focusing on what you are losing day-to-day.  You have limitless options following an optimal exit.

4. Create a comprehensive exit plan.

Is it essential to have an exit plan? Absolutely! Experts recommend owners begin planning the exit a year or two prior so there is time to make adjustments to the business that put it in the most favorable light. Without careful planning and a well-crafted strategy, a business exit may not meet your goals and add stress.

However, even with advisors and experts saying that an exit plan is essential, 80% of business owners don’t have it. This creates frustration, anxiety, and heightened emotions associated with the exit process. A comprehensive exit plan can help manage and reduce overwhelming feelings that may arise.

You can ensure a smooth transition process while minimizing the paralyzing emotional impact that might delay the sale with an exit plan.

5. Acknowledge what you’ve accomplished for the business.

The fact that your business has potential buyers is a testament to the kind of business you’ve created. This means that you’ve established something that has value, and someone is looking to be involved in continuing such a legacy.

Building your small business from the ground up involves hard work, knowledge, and expertise. It is a whole different skill set. To keep it running for long meant that you’ve done a great job or two for the business.

Exiting successfully

Leaving the business is both a professional and personal decision. Finding the balance between the two is vital for a successful transition. It is important to remember that handling it alone can enhance the overwhelming emotions you feel – there’s no one to reassure you in moments that fears or doubts arise.

You should surround yourself with people who are comfortable with you sharing your feelings openly and honestly, so they can support you and keep you focused.


At ExitGuide, we understand that exiting a business is like breaking a commitment – and is emotionally challenging for business owners. While we guide in achieving an optimal exit, we also provide clients with resources in order for them to manage their emotions throughout this transition.

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.