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Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Selling My Company

As some of you may know, I sold my company last October. While I think I was as prepared as I could be for life after selling my business, there were still several things I wasn’t prepared for.

Here’s a list of the top five things I learned after selling my company. Hopefully this will help those considering selling their business and also give some comfort to anyone who has sold a business and has feelings like those listed below.

Starting a New Company Has Both Been Easy and Hard

One of my reasons for selling my company was that I thought I could more or less recreate what took me 10 years in 1 or 2 years (albeit in a completely different niche, thanks to a non-compete). I thought I could quickly recreate a catalog of products, put them on Amazon and eBay and all of a sudden I would be at the same $2million in annual revenue my previous company did. This has been partly true and partly untrue.

In the 6 months since I sold my company I’ve found a great niche and have developed 20 great products which achieved sales basically as soon as they got listed on Amazon or eBay. In fact, I probably  underestimated how much demand still outpaces supply on Amazon – I listed products on Amazon before my products actually arrived thinking it would take a few weeks to get sales. The products sold nearly instantly and I had to cancel orders.

However, I’ve underestimated how much work everything has taken. The product research and development part has especially taken a lot of time but also the act of just recreating Amazon accounts, eBay accounts, etc. has been incredibly time consuming. I sympathize with all new importers and ecommerce entrepreneurs about how hard starting up is. The good news is though that I think I am proving that there is still a lot of meat on the Amazon bones.

When You Tell People You Sold Your Company Everyone Thinks You’re Unemployed

One of the negatives of running your own business is that many people still understand ‘entrepreneur’ to mean ‘unemployed’.  So the egotistical part of me thought that if I could say “I just sold my company” it would be some measure of success for me.

NOPE.

People still think I am unemployed and broke. Except people view having just sold your company as even less of a measure of success than saying you run your own business (my theory is that many non-entrepreneurs see selling a business as a failure).  Now when people ask me what I do, instead of telling people I just sold my company I tell them what they want to hear and say that “I’m unemployed, play FIFA all day, and live off my wife’s income”.

When people hear that you just sold your company, most take it that you

When people hear that you just sold your company, most take it that you’re unemployed and broke.

I Never Realized the True Stress of Being an Entrepreneur

Since selling my company, I’ve realized how much stress was on my shoulders now that it has been removed. I still lay awake in bed from time to time regretting selling my company and wondering if I will ever be able to be successful again. BUT this doesn’t even begin to compare with the stress and lost sleep I faced when I ran my company.

The absolute fear of having $300,000+ tied up in inventory and having my Amazon account shut down absolutely petrified me. This fear really grew immensely the second I found out that me and my wife were pregnant with our first child. On top of all of this, ever since I met my wife our relationship has been centered around her having the stable 9-5 job with lots of benefits with no flexibility and me having the unstable business that pays well and is extremely flexible. It terrified me having that if my business failed that status quo would be broken if I had to get a real job.

Since selling my company, my stress level is way lower and I sleep a lot better.

The Fine Print in Contracts Really Means Something

When I listed my company for sale I had the impression the sale would basically involve me being wired a bunch of money and me giving the password over for my Amazon account. Not quite this easy.

Whenever you sell a business of any size, you have to pay about $5,000 on a lawyer to do up a contract. At one point I seriously considered doing up my own contract. To think now that I actually considered doing up my own contract is both  hilarious and terrifying.

When we were doing up the the 11 page contract, literally 10 pages of it made zero sense to me. Since selling my company I’ve referred back to it probably every week. I’ve referred back to the non-compete section countless times to see what I can and can’t do. I’ve referred back to the indemnity portion to know what I’m on the hook for after the sale. And so on, and so on.

In hindsight, there’s things I would probably have structured differently now but I don’t think I would ever known to fight back on them until after I sold my first company.

$1 millon Really Isn’t That Much Money (Especially after taxes and in Vancouver)

I sold my company for $867,000 U.S.. This worked out to a about $1.15 million in Canadian Dollars thanks to a terrible exchange rate. However after I paid off some outstanding debts and taxes this was less than $800,000 CAD and I still have a bunch of personal income tax to deal with depending on how I decide to take the money out of the company.

This would be fine except that house prices in Vancouver have risen nearly 40% since I listed my company for sale in early 2016. A 3 bedroom condo is now approaching $1.5 million. Someone who bought a home in January 2016 in Vancouver and simply sold it today would have made almost as much money as I did from selling the company I poured 10 years of my life into.  Literally, within a week of selling my company I felt pressure to recreate to start another business and recreate another business simply in order to keep my head above water.

Conclusion

All in all, I am still very content with the decision to sell my company. The one thing that didn’t make my top 5 is that I never anticipated how much fun it would be to free my mind of a multi-million dollar business and pursue other things. Along with my new ecommerce company I’ve started I also have some expansion plans in the works for this blog. Without selling my company, I would have never had the time to  pursue these new ventures.

If you have ever sold a company is there anything you wish you would have known? Or are you considering selling your company but are afraid of the unknown? Feel free to comment below.

 

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11 Comments

  • Reply
    Travis Franklin
    June 6, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Love your blog and congrats on selling your business! I’m sure many of your readers, myself included would really enjoy it if you started a Podcast teaching entrepreneurs how to do business in China. Especially in the crowdfunding space. A lot of us are fearful of getting ripped off or getting our IP stolen and someone with your expertise could really shed some light on that. Not to mention it’s proving to be a great way to add extra revenue;)

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      June 7, 2017 at 4:31 pm

      Thanks Travis – I’ve pondered it but I know it’s a time commitment I just don’t have available right now. Maybe in the future though with more encouragement from people like you :)

  • Reply
    Howie
    June 8, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Hi David, so glad I found your site! I’m actually from Vancouver so your perspective means a lot =) I totally get that $1M isn’t really thaaat much.. esp in Vancouver. I was completely bummed out when I purchased my “smallish” condo last year for $600K. I honestly thought I purchased at the peak, as the BC govt introduced the foreign buyers tax immediately after.. however, that hasn’t stopped prices from continuing to skyrocket as you probably know. I’m starting my amazon fba journey and am pretty excited.. am planning to start small in both the CA and US markets. Will be checking for updates regularly, that’s for sure.

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      June 14, 2017 at 5:45 am

      Thanks Howie and be glad you bought when you did!

  • Reply
    Joe Rozsa
    June 13, 2017 at 5:58 am

    Appreciate the article, David. The transparency and honesty is great to hear. I’ve not sold anything of my own for that kind of money (yet), but I can imagine your feelings nonetheless. I’m always feeling like I need to build something else myself, but it can be tough as it feels like sometimes the low barrier to entry makes it too challenging to compete. I’m sure you will do just fine with your new venture.

    Glad I came across your blog and I look forward to keeping in touch. I’ve spent plenty of time in China myself working with factories directly, so I’m sure we can share a few stories. :)

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      June 14, 2017 at 5:54 am

      Thanks Joe- it’s a lot of feelings after ‘selling your baby’ but I’d like to think those extremes of feelings is what shapes us :)

  • Reply
    Martin Goldberg
    July 13, 2017 at 7:02 am

    I really appreciate the honest, no-nonsense, advice you share with your readers. Thanks for doing it. Question: you mentioned you had to cancel some orders due to some sales coming through before you had your product available. Does Amazon penalize you when that happens?

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      July 18, 2017 at 5:11 am

      Yes they will if it gets to be high enough.

  • Reply
    Nick E.
    July 15, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Hi David,
    I appreciate you writing another great article. All of us eventually have to part with our businesses for one of many reasons. Some day can you comment on how to best prepare for this event.
    Thanks, Nick…

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      July 18, 2017 at 5:23 am

      Thanks Nick.

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