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Is There Such A Thing As An Amicable Breakup With Your Business?

When you started your business, the chances are that you truly thought this was the right one for you. No one embarks on something like this to end up disappointed, after all, and the sheer amount of money and hours that you’ve put into this pursuit are testament enough to your commitment. Unfortunately, that’s also true of every other person who ever started something on their own, and the sad reality is that at least 50% of them also face the fact that they have to close their doors after a mere 5 years or less in operation.

The business world is, after all, an incredibly harsh environment, and while some startups will go on to become some of the best businesses of a generation (think companies like Airbnb, Instagram, etc.), others face seemingly never-ending setbacks, including stalling profits, a lack of investment, or products that don’t land the way they should. Obviously, fighting for a cause you’ve worked so hard for is a large part of business in the first place. But, if these issues keep on coming and are leaving your finances well and truly in the mud, then it’s often worth breaking those ties before you leave yourself bankrupt. 

Unfortunately, just as a lengthy divorce can take a far worse financial toll on both parties, a messy business breakup can cost the last money you have, as well as leave a generally bad taste in your mouth about something that once seemed so exciting. To avoid that eventually and instead keep at least some positives from your efforts here, it’s therefore worth pursuing an amicable business breakup in the following ways. 

# 1 – Trust the hard stuff to a third-party

While leaving the lawyers at home can seem like the best way to keep things civil during divorce, this lack of professional oversight is most often the thing that leads to escalating arguments and unresolved problems. Equally, attempting to sell or otherwise dissolve your business alone could quickly result in a tangled web of complication, and overall feelings of growing resentment. 

While the answer to the question ‘do you need a broker to sell your business is ultimately a personal one, it’s, therefore, worth at least considering the benefits of help here, including easier communications and processes that flow far easier. What’s more, the professional handling of somebody who doesn’t have your emotional ties to this enterprise will allow you to retain far happier memories than you would have if you had to painfully remove yourself. And, in time, that should help you to remember this period of your life fondly, rather than as a painful process. 

# 2 – Know the right time to leave

Continuing to fight for a failing relationship can lead to irrevocable fallouts. Equally, holding onto your business for too long is going to see you stuck under a huge amount of pressure both financially and work-wise. Left unchecked, that can complicate and ultimately overshadow an otherwise positive focus in your life. Worse, the financial burden of this drawn-out inability to let go could see you on your knees, or at least well on your way to bankruptcy that prevents your business from ever again being a positive memory. 

To avoid this, it’s essential to get out before things crumble to that extreme extent. This is especially true from a financial standpoint, we’re accepting that things aren’t working before you invest too much of your personal funds can help to avoid lasting problems and the ongoing resentment they inevitably bring. What’s more, selling at a time when you still have options (e.g. interested investors, capital to draw the best deals, etc.) ensures that you aren’t left with anything, but are instead remunerated generously for the business you’re giving up. That, at least, enables you to go on loving your business for what it’s given you. 

# 3 – Take stock of what you’ve learned

It’s easy to feel resentful of a business that didn’t work out if you dwell on its failure. Thinking about your losses over your lessons will especially leave you feeling bitter and regretful that you ever gave things a go in the first place. But it doesn’t need to be that way.

In reality, even a business that didn’t work out holds plenty of lessons in terms of resilience, patience, hard work, and, of course, money management. More practically, your efforts might have taught you about entirely new software, creative processes, or customer care skills. It’s only when you remember this fact and hold onto those lessons that you both keep this business as something worth remembering, and increase your chances of going on to succeed with your next enterprise in the footsteps of now incredibly successful people like Evan Williams, Akio Morita, and beyond

# 4 –  Never close the door completely

In divorce, most couples are adamant that leaving the door open is one of the worst things you can do for getting along well post-breakup. But, the business world is slightly different. Of course, by this, we don’t mean that you should necessarily consider a return to your original business which, even if you haven’t been able to sell, clearly wasn’t right. However, in keeping with those lessons that you learned, that one business could well evolve into another, more tangible, and efficient idea that gets you off the ground at last. 

So, instead of throwing out all of your materials and assuming that none of your ideas will ever be any good, remember your business with kindness by doing it the favor of (sort of) keeping its memory alive. Obviously, a little time off straight after-sale is best to keep these ideas separate in your mind, but holding the possibility of a future enterprise in front of you can, at least, remove that bitter note of what could otherwise be one of the hardest breakups of your life. 

Saying goodbye to a hard-earned business is tough. Make it a little easier using these tips.

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