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Selling up: A stroll, not a sprint

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It’s not the only interesting stat to come out of the latest report from Coutts. Called The Long Goodbye, the research showed that only 36 per cent of entrepreneurs felt elated or happy when they sold their business.

“There’s a sense of trepidation when you sell your business,” says Eric Pritchard who, at 65, has just completed his partial exit from Hertfordshire-based chartered accountants Keelings, which he’d been running for more than a decade. “You’re moving into the unknown where money replaces the buzz of running a business – but cannot give the same level of fulfilment. It leaves a sense of emptiness. But every entrepreneur needs an exit strategy, if only so you can spend more time with your family and on the tennis courts!”

The report also found that 71 per cent of business owners consider themselves “exit obsessive” and think about selling their business on at least a monthly basis. It’s odd, then, that 59 per cent of entrepreneurs overlook their financial planning until the last minute.

“Alarmingly, two-thirds of entrepreneurs are risking long-term business success by not giving proper thought to their exit strategies,” comments Andrew Haigh, managing partner for the entrepreneurs client group at Coutts. “While planning for this exit may not seem an obvious priority for owner managers in today’s difficult market, the buyout industry will eventually open up, merger and acquisition activity will increase, as will private equity investment. It is therefore essential that entrepreneurs and businesses start planning if they’re looking to take advantage of an economic upturn in the future.”

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