How do you know when the time is right to sell your business?

Building a business from scratch or taking the family firm to the next level is all-consuming. You and your loved ones have made sacrifices every day to get to where you want to be.

But how do you know when enough is enough? When is the right time to sell your life’s work and get on with the serious business of living?

In a pioneering research project, commissioned by Clarion Wealth Planning, business psychologists from Carter Corson explored the decision-making and psychological impact involved in selling a business.

Enough Now: The Psychology of Selling Your Business identified specific psychological pressures and complex emotions involved in selling what is often the result of decades of hard work.

Clarion’s founding director Ron Walker said:  “As a result of this study into what triggers have motivated people to chart a new course for their lives, we can use these insights to better guide our clients though the pivotal period to their own next phase.”

The independent study revealed that many said starting a business was largely logical, whereas the reason for leaving was almost always emotional.

Some felt there was a logical lifespan in the business but it wasn’t the only reason letting go. There were often deeply emotional motivations. For most selling “felt like having their soul ripped out”.

Around two thirds of business owners (65%) felt it was indeed time to go. 25-30 years seems to be the typical time period to leave with enough energy to enjoy the benefits of their hard work. Having survived a recession, some described Brexit and current market conditions as the last straw.

Many (59%) were simply exhausted by the constant demands of business, citing they were “mentally ready to walk” after the “constantly battering” of “24/7 pressure”. Even younger owners described being without enough energy reserves to spend time with their children.

No one has learned there is more to life than work perhaps more effectively than the person whose friend who dropped down dead the day after talking about retiring. Predictably, more than a third (35%) of the people talked to by Carter Corson experienced a ‘wake-up call’ in the form of health issues, divorce, or the loss of loved ones that brought matters to a head.

As for family businesses, there was a feeling of ‘I can’t pass this on’ in 35 per cent of the cases. From children who didn’t want to get involved, giving them the freedom to start something themselves, to the business being so large the children could only be passed a small percentage: the end result was the same. Time to exit.

Only one business in the sample had been approached to sell triggering the decision to give it all up, suggesting the sort of people who have been in charge throughout their business life clearly prefer to be in charge of when it is time to say goodbye too.

Whatever your motivation, if it is your time to say enough now and reap the rewards of your hard work, please do call to arrange an appointment with one of our expert financial planners, +44 (0)1625 466 360 or email us an enquiry at

If you’d like more information about this article, or any other aspect of our true lifelong financial planning, we’d be happy to hear from you. Please call +44 (0)1625 466 360 or email

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