What Drives You?

What is your motivation?

If you’ve owned your business for a long time you’ve worked hard. You’re still working hard, possibly harder than any of your employees. At some point, you have to ask yourself, why?

For some business owners it’s financial: unexpected financial demands, such as a marital or partnership split; the recession of 2009 dropped the value of the business; investments have taken a big hit. And just when so many were beginning to recover, along comes The Pandemic and they get hit again! Maybe you’re still working because you have financial obligations to meet.

Others are still there because they love what they do and haven’t discovered anything that they imagine enjoying more. Perhaps they have not even looked.

For some it’s habit. There’s a story about a child watching polar bears at the zoo, who asked, “why is the bear crying?” The parent suggests that perhaps it is sitting on something uncomfortable. “Why doesn’t it just get up and move?” asks the boy. “I guess it doesn’t hurt enough,” replies the parent. Sometimes it is hard to take action, even when it is uncomfortable.

Or maybe everything is going well enough that you feel no urgency. You’re still healthy. The business is still making money. You’re satisfied with what you take home. You haven’t felt the need to mess that up by changing something that seems to be working.

There’s no judgement here. It’s your business and you make the decisions. You’re in control. But consider the impact your decisions have on others – your family, employees, suppliers and customers. If your spouse is retired and wants to travel, and you’re still working, is that fair? If your children and grandchildren are growing up without you being available, is that what you really want? If you were to die or become disabled (something that is more common than you think), would you be leaving a mess for your family to clean up? Will the company survive your death? What happens to your employees, if you’re here one day making the tough decisions and gone the next?

There are lots of reasons to sell your business and maybe just as many to keep it. Make a list of the pros and cons and think about it. Then, if you can, make a decision and communicate it with the people who will be affected. Knowing that you have thought it through and made a plan will ease their minds as well as your own.

December 7, 2020

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