The Secret Entrepreneur: I’m back, I exited, I’m richer!

A tad hypocritical, our mystery entrepreneur has been away for a while having ignored his own advice and selling his business. So, how's life on the other side?

I’m back. Sorry it’s been a while. I was a little pre-occupied ignoring my own advice and selling one of my businesses. Yes, I’m not afraid to be a hypocrite when required.

Why? First reason, the one most people don’t admit – the money! It wasn’t the clincher, but it was certainly a big motivator.

Second – the timing, I saw a market change coming, consolidation on the horizon and a narrow window to secure a good exit. Turns out I was right, several others in our sector were acquired in the same month we were, by competitors of our acquirer. Those remaining are not looking in such great shape.

Third reason, the opportunity to be part of something bigger, grow faster, learn more and do it with all of the personal financial risk removed. I now get to work for the new owners because I want to, not because I have to. That’s a huge privilege.

And frankly I was a little bit bored before. Now that I have fuck-you money stashed away it actually makes it easier for me to work longer and harder. What’s more, it’s quite fun that almost all of my peers in the acquiring company have no idea how much I made, and I’m keeping quiet – so I’m just one of the crew.

The process of selling was a business education in itself. It was also the most stressful time of my life. Things moved fast – from initial chat to signatures on paper and cash in the bank took just three months – but it was a lot of work, involving a huge deal of scrutiny, a lot of time with lawyers and accountants and long periods of self-doubt and deep introspection.

To make things even tougher, all of this was done in complete secrecy. Knowing things are going to change can often be more disruptive to staff morale than the change just happening, so none of my team knew anything about the deal until the morning I walked into the office and told them the deal was completed and we were now part of something much bigger. That came as a bit of a shock to everyone. Especially to those who’d been with me from the beginning and got a sizeable cheque out of it.

Keeping things quiet was probably the most stressful part. I was so frequently either digging out random paperwork required for the due diligence checks, or leaving the office at random times for meetings and phone calls, that some of the team thought I was being audited, while others thought I was seriously ill.

Apparently I was so frequently looking grumpy that one of the team even suggested to my wife that she should give me more intimate attention before letting me go to work…

(That didn’t work)

Anyway, after frantic months getting us integrated into our new parent, while still running my other ventures, I finally have a bit more time to breathe – and a whole lot more to say now that I have a view from both sides of the fence.

Expect more soon…

Read previous Secret Entrepreneur columns here on Startups.co.uk.

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