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The Emotions of Selling a Business

Erik Sullivan

Sellers Seller Articles Seller FAQ

When Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins returned to earth after landing on the moon, life was far from perfect. Both Aldrin and Armstrong struggled to adjust to their new lives in the spotlight after their mission, developing severe depression. 

And they weren't the only ones.

In his book Out of the Darkness: From Turmoil to Transformation, Psychologist, Dr. Steve Taylor interviewed these astronauts and many others about returning from a mission to space. Taylor wanted to uncover why these happy and driven individuals were experiencing so much negative emotion following a successful mission. 

"If you're an astronaut your whole life is geared towards a mission, and once the mission is over, in a sense your purpose could be taken away from you." says Taylor. 

Astronaut on the moon

"You could probably compare it to something like boxing – a lot of boxers who retire suffer from a sense of disorientation. They don't know what to do with themselves and become depressed."

Aldrin and Armstrong dedicated their lives to reaching the moon. After that mission was over, despite it being a success, these astronauts lost their purpose.

If you're a business owner, working tirelessly toward a goal or mission is all you know.

So ask yourself: When the time comes to sell my business, what is my next mission going to be?

We love to interview our clients about their experience with our company. We ask them questions about the process, about our services, and if they have any regrets about selling. 

One of the most common regrets they share with us is: "I wish I had prepared for the emotional impact of selling my business."

Running a business and watching it grow may be one of the most exciting experiences of an entrepreneur's life.

You have to take risks, believe in yourself when others don't, and work your heart out to succeed. It's a highly emotional activity, so it makes perfect sense that selling would be too. 

The problem is, most business owners are so busy they don't realize how emotionally invested they are in their business. These are the business owners who usually take it the hardest.

So don't wait for the emotions of selling to sneak up on you. When the time comes to sell, use these helpful tips to get you through the process. 

1. Find Your Next Mission

Just like the astronauts, you need a new mission once you sell your business. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to start another business (or go to space), but you should be planning to do something that's inspiring and exciting to you.

Your next mission could be to focus on your health, volunteer a certain number of hours per week, start a dog training service - you name it! Just make sure it is something you're looking forward to. 

2. Hold on For The Ride

Business owners use the phrase "Roller Coaster" all the time when describing the emotions of selling. One minute you can't wait to sell your business, and the next you don't know what you'd do without it. This is completely normal.

roller coaster of emotions

Be aware that the closer you get to closing, the more intense these feelings are going to become. Brace yourself for these emotions, stay positive, and hold on for the ride. 

3. Employee Relationships

For many business owners, damaging their relationships with employees is a big fear when selling. If you've got close friendships with your employees, one of your priorities will be leaving them in good hands with the new buyer.

Make sure your broker is aware that this is important for you. Different buyers have different needs, and some will value your employees more than others. The good news is that you will ultimately be in control of who buys the business, so choose someone who you know will take care of your people.

Right after the business is sold, you'll be spending most of your time training the new owner. Use this time to help your employees transition smoothly. Most of our clients say this training time is very cathartic for them and the employees.

4. Plan Your Finances

A huge source of anxiety for sellers is financial. We advise our clients to meet with their financial planner following a sale, or find a fee-only financial planner with a great reputation to help organize their future goals. 

Laying out where you are financially and making a plan for the future will help you clear up the uncertainty of life after selling your business. It's a crucial step to a successful sale. 

Overall, selling your business is not an easy process. Emotions are just one of the many difficulties you will face along the way. Prepare ahead of time as much as you can by talking with your business broker a year or more in advance. The more prepared you are, the smoother your deal will go and the less stress you will feel.

If you'd like to discuss selling your business with a senior broker or have any other questions, please contact us today.

Know Your Company's Worth

Prepare to sell by determining the value of your business.


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