So, you’re selling your startup. Congrats! You’ve probably spent the last few years (or more) working around the clock to get your company off the ground and building it up to be a success. It’s understandable if you’re not entirely sure what comes next. But don’t worry, around 10,000 businesses are sold every year, so you’re not alone.
At Foundy, we regularly speak to exited founders about their post-startup acquisition experiences. It seems this conversation is a sensitive one, particularly around the subject of financial payout. Often, founders who have been in the role of CEO have mixed feelings about the sale of their business. Sure, a multi-million-pound payout following an exit is incredible. But leaving behind a company where you’ve become a leader and worked 80+ hour weeks to make it a success can be a difficult pill to swallow.
If you’re in the acquisition process or considering selling your business and not sure what to expect post-sale, we’re here to help. While not knowing what the future holds may be daunting, it’s also exciting. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide on how your life might change after the startup acquisition process. Ready to look into the crystal ball?
5 ways life changes for startup founders after a startup acquisition
1.) A deep feeling of relief
Your startup is your baby. Night and day, week by week, founders are working “overtime” on scaling their startup to make it the success they have dreamed about. The pitfall of bearing the well-publicised risk of running your own business is the fear your business won’t make it.
Fear of failure is often a source of motivation for founders to invest more time, energy and resources into their business. Whether it’s through finalising a complex presentation for a sought-after client, helping an employee with a project or speaking with difficult suppliers in different time zones whilst everyone else in your house is asleep. So once your startup is acquired, it feels like a significant weight is lifted off your shoulders, particularly if your company faced an uncertain future.
It’s crucial to enjoy that relief because if you’re anything like most startup founders, you’ll soon find something to replace the weight that’s been lifted.
2.) Enjoy financial freedom
One of the draws of becoming an entrepreneur is undoubtedly the opportunity to receive a payout of ten times, maybe even one hundred times, what you could have earned as an employee over the same period.
When you sell your business, it’s likely you’ll receive a life-changing amount of money which is an incredibly liberating experience. You’ll finally be able to afford those things that you’ve wanted since you started your business or even before that. Whether it’s your dream car, a new house or helping out friends, family and local causes.
But don’t expect money to be the be-all and end-all. When Steven Bartlett, Co-Founder of Social Chain and Dragons’ Den Star, sold his startup for $400 million, he cited the familiar saying: “you always want what you don’t have”.
Receiving your “big payout” after learning to live a modest life on a basic salary can sometimes be underwhelming. You should undoubtedly treat yourself for your hard work paying off but take your time with any post-acquisition spending. Consider the best ways to maintain your financial freedom for the coming years so that when opportunities crop up, you can take them.
3.) New business opportunities
Many entrepreneurs are drawn to the opportunity of starting another business or finding an existing business or startup to invest in or buy. There are a few things to consider when deciding your next move.
Firstly, do you want to stay in the same industry or try something new? If staying in the same industry, are there any new business opportunities that have opened up since you sold your company? Alternatively, if you’re looking to try something new, what skills and experience do you have that could be transferable? What benefits can you bring to smaller businesses that may be facing the same challenges you learned to overcome?
Once you’ve decided on the type of opportunity you’re looking for, it’s time to start networking. Get in touch with old colleagues and friends, and let them know you’re looking for new opportunities. Attend industry events and meetups, and make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date. You never know who you might meet or where your next opportunity will come from. Take your time finding your new opportunity; there’s no rush. You should also sign up for a Foundy buyer account to see new and exciting startups that you can acquire.
4.) Opportunities to use your expertise
As a founder who has built a startup successful enough to be acquired, you’ll have a lot of expertise. Sure, you’ll have made mistakes along the way (we all do), but that’s all valuable experience. Once you’ve been through the acquisition process, you’ll have the opportunity to share your knowledge in several ways:
- Serve as a mentor — help others achieve their dreams by sharing your wisdom and insight.
- Write a book — share your story and insights with the world.
- Start a podcast — allow listeners to hear your story and get inspiration.
There are plenty of ways to share your knowledge and help others. It might be that you use these opportunities as a stopgap before your next big career move. But you might just find your calling and become a full-time thought leader in your industry.
5.) A lack of purpose
We’ve all been there, desperate for a day off work to do everything else you want to do. Then the weekend rolls around, and you’re not sure what to do. This is a bit like what it feels like for some founders post-acquisition. Building a business takes a lot of dedication, and for many business owners, it’s their sole purpose for many years.
While there’s undoubtedly a feeling of relief when you sell your business, this overwhelming joy may be short-lived as it can be followed by emptiness. You realise that growing your startup and solving complex problems was the most fulfilling aspect of the journey, rather than the final payout. The emotional fallout from selling a business can be tough.
For most, though, it seems that founders have already planned out their next chapter, whether it’s a long-awaited break or immediately focussing on the next startup. While you might feel a bit of a lack of purpose initially, we’re pretty sure it won’t last long.
Start your next chapter with Foundy
Foundy makes the startup acquisition process easier for both startup sellers and buyers. It gives sellers the chance to get in front of potential buyers and big companies looking to acquire businesses with plenty of potential. For buyers, it makes due diligence easy by giving instant access to new business listings and key metrics, information and financials.
If you’re thinking about selling your business, sign up for Foundy as a seller today. Signing up for a free account takes about 15 minutes and gives you:
- A free business listing
- Total anonymity
- Exposure to potential buyers.
Foundy takes the stress and hassle out of the startup acquisition process and allows founders to sell their businesses in as little as two months.
Start your next chapter with Foundy today. Sign up for a free seller account and get the ball rolling on your startup acquisition.