I have just had an amazing conversation with a woman I know who’s in the process of leaving her business.
I’m going to keep her anonymous, but her insights just have to be shared.
After a number of decades building and scaling her company she’s organising her exit and it has not been straightforward.
“I feel like my insides have been ripped out,” she told me. “It’s everything I’ve ever done – it’s like my third child.”
Circumstances forced her hand a little bit. Something that had begun as a conversation about a two year plan suddenly became a two week reality due to health issues.
“On paper it looked like a great plan, it solved a lot of problems and seemed perfect – but it was too quick. I totally underestimated the grieving process I would go through,” she admitted.
“I didn’t know I would miss my staff so much – a huge social element of my life was being taken away. I couldn’t interact with them in the same way because it would confuse them. When I would say: ‘How’re you doing?’ meaning ‘how are you?’ they would take it as:
‘How are you with the new set up? Do you like them more than me?!’”
She has no doubt in her mind that the new management team is perfect for the role, but not having a neutral party in the middle was probably a mistake.
“If I was going to do it again I would definitely recommend having a lawyer and proper terms. Because of my relationship with the new team we didn’t think that was necessary. We’re 12 weeks down the line and we’ve figured it out, so I suppose that’s quite quick, but it felt interminable,” she said.
The balance of power was another hard thing to negotiate. Going from being self-employed to suddenly having a line manager and someone to answer to was very difficult.
“We’re hugely fortunate we got through it, I think what made the difference was me recognising how I was feeling and why,” she said.
“Once I realised what it was I would miss, I decided to set up another business focusing on that one element. I’m much happier now. I would really recommend finding an outlet for your creativity post exit to ease the transition.”