You just sold your company for a pot full of money. Now, what should you do next?
You’ve gone where few have gone before you and reached that pot of gold at the end of the entrepreneurial rainbow. You’re now facing some of the best, most compelling options in your life. The next chapters will allow you to pick and choose what you do next, without the pressures of having enough money to pay your bills and feed your family, and perhaps do something that is totally extravagant, if you’re so inclined.
You also have one other option. Do absolutely nothing, if that has been your dream, and sip those proverbial margaritas while sitting on the beach.
My advice: No matter which option you choose, take some time off and do as little as possible just to collect your thoughts and avoid jumping from the frying pan, where you’ve probably spent many of your last years, into a new fire.
There will be a reckoning point soon after your deal closes, when you step up to the window to collect your hard-earned money. You will quickly realize that, if you stop and wait for a time before your next act, the spotlight to which you’ve become accustomed to is now shining elsewhere. Perhaps you’ll note that your telephone is not ringing as frequently from former business acquaintances and suppliers as they, too, have moved on to hitch their wagons to potentially more fruitful entrepreneurs.
Don’t despair; it’s nothing personal. It’s just that we live in an uber, “what-can-you-do for-me-now” world. This is all part of the evolutionary process where new, deserving wannabes emerge and take their place in the capitalist process.
I have written before: what you do is not who you are. After your most recent success, take a timeout. If nothing else, use it to rest and finally sleep through the night without being awakened suddenly by the nightmare of dealing with yet another inevitable looming crisis — the everyday occurrence for a business owner.
The fear of losing relevance has driven many a previously successful business owner to jump at the next opportunity without appropriate thought and due diligence. These individuals have yet to come down from the high of always being in the hunt and the everyday adrenaline rush of running a company.
It’s important to understand that success is not always measured by dollar signs. After your latest victory, your value as a teacher and mentor has risen in relative terms in your circle, the same as a hot FANG-type stock. It may be hard to realize it soon after selling your business, you may find more satisfaction in giving back than in simply making money. Your street cred as a mover and shaker will have skyrocketed because you’re no longer telling people what you plan to do; rather, you’ve delivered on the success you prognosticated.
There’s also no rule against giving back with your time and energy, while concurrently pushing the reset button and trying again in another venture, or as a deep-pocketed and influential investor. Whatever avenue (or avenues) you choose, remember it’s not a sprint, and you should use the clock and the calendar as a sanity check before going on to bigger and better things. The big difference is that the second time around, you’ll have the luxury of doing it your way, and at a time and place of your choosing.
Michael Feuer co-founded OfficeMax, and in 16 years as CEO, grew the retailer to sales of $5 billion in 1,000 stores worldwide. Today, as founder and CEO of Max-Ventures, his firm invests in and consults for retail businesses. Feuer serves on numerous boards and is a frequent national speaker and the author of business books “The Benevolent Dictator” and ”Tips from the Top.”