It’s Not Just Business, It’s Personal

It usually happens towards the end of the movie. Just as the hero is about to achieve victory, his best friend pulls the rug out from under him. It turns out he was working with the other side all the time. It wasn’t his fault; he needed the money. He tells the hero he’s sorry, it was nothing personal, just business.

The point the movie is trying to make, besides creating a third act twist, is that there’s no such thing as a decision that’s ‘just business’. There is always personal involvement, always an emotional edge. In business, we work very hard to separate our emotions from our work. We make decisions based on facts and focus on things like revenue and profit. When we talk to staff, to people who have become our friends, we keep it professional when we explain business decisions. That is especially true when you decide to sell your agency.

The Emotional Moment

We often tell clients to prepare for an emotional moment during the sales process. It doesn’t hit everyone at the same time, but at some point you will feel it. When you have spent the majority of your life working with the same people, sometimes with multiple generations of the same family, you get attached. As much as you try to avoid it, you care about your people. When the time comes to make major changes to the agency, it’s hard to say it’s just business. For most owners, it has been more than business for years. You can’t just switch it off.

When your agency merges with a larger entity, that emotional moment can be even heavier. Merging with a larger entity means merging with an agency that already has people fulfilling some of your staff roles. You can work with the buyer to ensure that your people are afforded opportunities, but it’s practically inevitable that some employees will leave. Explaining that situation to someone you see as a friend can be difficult.

Business V. Emotion

This is not meant to suggest that you should allow those emotions to cloud your decision-making. It is vital that you make your decisions for the right reasons and there are occasions when you need to make a choice between the agency and the employee. That may just be a business decision, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

Compromise and disappointment are part of every business decision. You need to understand that and be prepared to deal with those emotions, so that you make the right decision for you and your business. You need to prepare yourself, because every business decision is personal.

The sale of your business may be the single most important decision of your career, for a complimentary consultation to discuss your goals, please click here.


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