Exit, what exit? 92% of those who’ve sold up stay in the business world

Entrepreneurs who envisage walking away from their firms having sold are likely to be disappointed. The reality is that over 80pc stay involved with the businesses they’ve exited

Thinking of surveying the beach from your sun lounger, cocktail in hand, once you’ve sold your business for millions of pounds? Think again.

Ninety-two per cent of entrepreneurs who’ve sold their businesses stay involved with the business world one way or another. This could be either through mentoring, philanthropy or becoming an angel investor.

>See also: Why selling your business is like running an election campaign

And eight out of 10 (83pc) remain connected to the businesses they’ve sold, most commonly as an advisor, a non-executive director or simply by continuing to own shares.

This compares with more than one third (35pc), who envisaged themselves as walking away completely once they’d sold up.

Private bank Arbuthnot Latham surveyed 200 wealthy entrepreneurs whose personal fortune was higher than £500,000 for its business exit report.

Four out of 10 of those surveyed had sold with an average age of 45 and a personal fortune of £4.1m.

Reasons for selling a business

Nearly half of those who’ve sold up (48pc) say that finding a successor was the biggest trigger behind their decision to sell, followed by reaching an age milestone (34pc) or achieving what they set out to do (21pc).

Not enjoying the boss role anymore is the biggest factor influencing those who have yet to sell their business (42pc) followed by reaching a certain age (39pc) or no longer needing to earn money from their business (24pc).

>See also: 15% of SME business directors are beyond retirement age

Seller’s remorse

Around eight out of 10 have misgivings about how their business was eventually sold. More than half (54pc) say they wish they’d waited longer for a higher price or put more thought into who eventually acquired their firm.

Family background plays a strong part in deciding whether to become an entrepreneur in the first place. Three in five entrepreneurs come from a family business background.

Those that do come from a family of entrepreneurs put greater thought into the precise value of their businesses before putting them up for sale. Fifty-eight per cent wanted to understand precisely what their firm was worth compared with 41pc of entrepreneurs who don’t come from a family business background

Lee Mowle, who continues to be an entrepreneur and angel investor, said: “For us [entrepreneurs], what we do is more than ‘a job’. Unlike most people, who do something until they reach retirement age and then kind of stop – we enjoy the challenge of what we do and that doesn’t stop [after an exit]. You just carry on doing it, but in a different way. From me, entrepreneurship is a weird hobby that happens to be financially beneficial.”

Further reading on business exit

British entrepreneurs have made over £108bn from business sales over past 5 years


Related Topics

Business exit
Exit strategy