Insights & News

21 things business owners do after selling up

INSIGHT: View all Insights articles.

You know you should get serious about selling your company, but you just can’t picture yourself not being a business owner.

It’s worth reminding yourself why you got into being a business owner in the first place. For 90% of entrepreneurs, it’s to sell up at some point, so you can convert your decades of hard work into cash in the bank.

But life after sale can be tough. You are suddenly an ex-business owner, with money and time on your hands. So much of your personal and professional identity is associated with owning and running a company, it’s important to reinvent yourself post-sale. Don’t worry though – entrepreneurs rarely do nothing for long.

This next chapter is limited only by your imagination. To help business owners focus on some possible next steps, here are 21 genuine things BCMS clients have done with the freedom of time and money.

  1. Become a consultant to your industry. If you enjoy a considerable profile in your industry, start networking to build up pro bono work.
  2. Start another business - or invest in someone else’s. Many clients can’t resist the pull of their industry, and quickly set up something new.
  3. Learn to fly a plane. With more time and money, getting your pilots licence and taking to the skies is a perennial favourite with entrepreneurs who’ve sold up.
  4. Mentor young businesses. Share your experience with younger entrepreneurs and become a business coach or non-executive director, like former clients Andrew Sesemann and Marleen Van Dam.
  5. Start a charity. For those keen to give something back, it’s worthwhile researching which good causes you want to back, and how you want to be involved. One former client started a London branch of a US homeless charity to reconnect rough sleepers with their families.
  6. Invent a board game. Former med tech client Colin Thompson launched a number version of Scrabble, turning it into a phone game app called Gosum.
  7. Cycle across Africa. Founder of event ticketing firm Show Data Systems Tom Woodard cycled from Cairo to Cape Town to raise funds for safer cycling charity Cycle Smart.
  8. Become a boutique B&B operator. A fun hobby business you can do with your other half, applying your commercial skills in a largely amateur sector.
  9. Buy a football club. BCMS client John Ward became chairman of Scottish Premier League team Livingstone after sale, returning the club to solvency – and securing promotion to the top flight.
  10. Relearn a musical instrument. A great mental workout, and you could incorporate some practice space into your next house extension.
  11. Buy a yacht and cruise the Med. Finding your sea-legs and enjoying a bit of leisurely island-hopping is the perfect way to unwind after 20 years of business owner stress.
  12. Go trekking at Machu Picchu. Californian client Sandy Wilks Rintoul sold her late father’s business and treated her daughters to a dream trip to Peru’s Inca kingdom.
  13. Add a home gym or games room. Health concerns and ‘burnout’ are often a trigger for a business sale, so here’s a simple way to stay fit once you’re away from the daily grind.
  14. Take your family on a world tour. An unforgettable experience (as long as you get on!)
  15. Buy a holiday villa. A new holiday home is a very popular move, and a larger property gives you the option to live part of the year abroad.
  16. Become an online currency trader. Keep an eye on the markets by getting into forex trading. Former client Hugh Graham is an avid fan.
  17. Develop a property portfolio. Become a buy-to-let landlord or get into heritage redevelopments. A mainstay for many business owners who sell.
  18. Write a bestselling novel. One former BCMS client has written a string of romantic novels under a pen name.
  19. Go walking and fishing more. Oregon BCMS client Bob Thompson can regularly be found salmon fishing in Alaska while he works out his next plans
  20. Buy a farm and raise rare-breed livestock. If moving house post-sale, consider setting up a heritage farm, and enter the world of animal auctions, food fairs and farmers markets.
  21. Stay in your business but do what you really enjoy. Some clients just want to potter around in a lab or workshop without the hassles of IT upgrades, HR issues and negotiating contracts.
BCMS Author's picture
Posted Aug 2018
All BCMS Insights