Emotional Intelligence and Business Succession

Thursday, July 20 2017

Emotional intelligence is the elephant in the room when it comes to selling or transitioning your business.

The technical aspects of selling or transition are not rocket science. If you know what you want to do, your lawyer, accountant, banker and business broker can look after the technical pieces. But that isn’t usually what prevents business owners from preparing and selling their businesses.

Poor insight into their own emotions, their lack of emotional intelligence (EI) can be a quagmire that gets business owners stuck at all stages of transition.

Over the years I’ve met owners who, when contemplating transition decisions, experience intense negative emotions – fear, embarrassment, jealousy, disappointment, grief and sadness. These are not the emotions that inspire followers and left unchecked, the business can slip into a downward spiral.

Negative emotions can evolve from unanswered questions:

  • What will I do with my life if I’m not running this business?
  • How will I redefine myself? If I’m not a business owner, who am I?
  • How will I get my social needs met outside the workplace?
  • How will my employees deal with working for someone else? Will they be angry with me?
  • How will I spend my time with my spouse?
  • The business is going well now. How can I leave it?
  • The business isn’t going well. How can I save it?
  • I grew this business from nothing. It’s my baby. How can I walk away? Especially if there’s no one to take over?
  • My son/daughter would like to take over but they are not up to the job. How can I tell them that?
  • My son/daughter works in the business and I’m not sure they could work for anyone else. What will they do if I sell?
  • Do I keep the business in the family or sell it to a third party?
  • What if people realize I haven’t been doing a good job as an owner?

Business brokers have told me that they have often taken an owner “to the altar” with a perfect offer, only to have them walk away from the deal at the last moment, emotions trumping logic.

Emotions are real. They are a physical and neurological response to a situation. If you don’t know how to articulate and deal with those emotions they can result in a hasty, inappropriate decision that you end up regretting.

A business transition coach can walk you through the tough questions and sort through the emotions. They can help you get safely to the other side.  Let us know if we can help you.

Learn more about our business transition and strategy services here.