I started my first company eight years ago in 2004 and I’ve been through two acquisitions. The first company I sold was DropSend in 2008 and the second was Carsonified in 2011.
Like most entreprenuers, I believed I needed to sell a company for a pile of cash in order to be successful. I’m not sure why I felt like this. I believe it was related to reading about acquisitions in the news and blogosphere. You’d see a photo of a smiling entreprenuer and read about the millions he just made from Google buying his company. It felt every company was in a sports league and winning the championship was being acquired.
I read the E-Myth and soaked up every word, beleiving it to be Gospel. I was continually engineering my company to make it run without me so I could sell. I imagined what it would be like to announce the aquisition and then see all those zeros in my bank account.
Well, selling your company doesn’t make you happy and you don’t feel like you’ve reached the summit of your career or life. It’s just another stop on the journey.
Yes, the extra money is useful for things like paying off your mortgage and giving you more financial freedom, but it doesn’t change who you are fundamentally. If you’re reading this post then you’re already richer than a huge portion of the world, so selling your company isn’t going to fundamentally change your existence. You already have a laptop, an internet connection and some sort of education. You already crossed the poverty line.
After you sell your company, you wake up the next day the same person. You drag yourself out of bed, bleary eyed and start the coffee maker. Your kids still wake you up too early and you still have to do your household chores. It’s all the same. You don’t just sit back and relax. But the truth is you don’t want to coast. You want to keep moving forward.
Every entrepreneur wants the following things and selling your company doesn’t change them. You want to be …
- Solving a problem that makes the world better
- Working with people you like and respect
- Free to be creative
- Hitting milestones and making progress
- Challenged and learning
Running Treehouse meets all of those requirements for me. I am having an absolute blast and I have no intention of selling the business. If Treehouse was the last thing I did in my career before I died, I’d feel 100% happy.
I’m doing something that matters and I love it.
My advice is to examine your thoughts and see if you’re waiting to sell your company in order to be truly happy. The truth is that you’re probably already as happy as you’ll ever be and selling your company won’t change that.
Do your best to ignore TechCrunch and their non-stop acquisition chatter. The media is run by journalists, not entrpeneurs. Companies being bought and sold generates pageviews, but has very little to do with you and what you set out to do with your company.
Selling your company isn’t actually what you’re striving towards. As a wise man once said “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”
Enjoy the adventure that you’re currently experiencing and realize the daily highs and lows are what actually make your life meaningful.
Have you sold a company? Has the experience made you happier? Please leave your comments below - would love to hear your thoughts.