Here are 8 things to consider before selling your company from 8 entrepreneurs and how they decided.
1. Don't sell your passion
spent six years building the first company I sold. The day that I sold it was one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. How many people actually build a company and then successfully sell it? Not a lot. Then as each month went by, and the money sat in my back account as I tried to figure out what to do next, the regret started to set in. I hadn't sold my company, I had sold my passion. You need to understand the difference. Selling a company is a transfer of assets. Selling your passion is a transfer of emotion — which is unfortunately one sided. Ask yourself if you know the difference before you agree to sell.
2. Follow your latest obsession
I've sold four companies in the past four years. Many people think this sounds impressive, but the reason this happened is because I know that I work best when I can throw my whole heart and soul into a project. If the time comes when I feel as though my progress or my passion for a project is stagnating, and the thought of working on my business is no longer what gets me out of bed each morning, it's time to sell. I'll then take the acquisition money and use it to fund the next venture.
3. Consider what you're giving up
We've had multiple acquisition and merger opportunities over the years, and we came very close to selling. But ultimately we decided that we wanted to be in charge of our own futures rather than handing our futures over to someone else. It wasn't an easy decision, but it was the best one for us.
4. Look at your market
Two years in and I was already thinking about my next move. It wasn't because I didn't love my clients or that I wasn't enjoying what I was doing, but I could already see a glass ceiling that would limit the potential for growth. That said, it was still a tough decision. This was my first business and I had always wanted to build a team the way we had with this company. Our early growth was largely due to the economies of scale from outsourcing overseas (back in 2007). But as more players entered the market and our niche business got into more of a groove, I realized that the days of explosive growth wouldn't last forever. That's why I decided to search for a better vehicle for the next leg of my entrepreneurial adventure. It was the right decision.
5. Think about timing
Timing is everything. I sold a company after 42 days of being in business. I nailed it and we got an offer that made sense. Do I regret it? Yes. Not three months later I was kicked out of the company and to the curb. But I've learned that some things happen for a reason. After this experience, I was able to understand what to do in these circumstances so that my next big win will be ten times better.
6. Sell when you're no longer excited
In order to do your best work you have to be excited about what you're doing and what you are creating on a daily basis. If you are still excited and love what you are doing, that should count for more than the money you'll generate from a sale (assuming standard valuation). On the other hand, if you are no longer excited, I feel that it's almost always better to exit and apply your attention to something that is more fulfilling.
7. Consider your goal
I wanted to run my company but we've been flexible — growing and changing as we learned more about mobile technology, as we figured out what clients wanted and as we imagined what was possible. For now, I want to do what I'm doing. If you have something else you'd rather be doing, then you should sell your company.
8. Examine your valuation
If you think you can continue to grow your company and don't think its current valuation is fair, then keep growing it. Once you think the company is at or near its peak and the valuation is fair, then it's time to sell and move on.