How Successful Founders Feel After They Sell Their Companies

Software company founders who sold their companies for big prizes tell me the same thing on my podcast:

“It was great to see the money in my bank account for a day, but then it wasn’t so great right after that.”

For some founders, it only took a day for the sinking feeling to hit. For others, it was a month or three months or six months.

Like longtime workaholics who suddenly retire with nothing to do, this change is usually very confusing, upsetting, and frustrating.

I’m still trying to find a successful founder who created a valuable business and sold it and says, “I was so glad to do nothing after I sold it. To go fishing, play golf, and hang out at home forever.”

I’m sure there are a few out there, but I haven’t met them yet.

It’s a crazy thing. You start a company and go all in for years and years. All in with time, attention, and often your life-savings.

Dreaming of having money someday when you hit your “number,” unlimited time, no crushing responsibilities.

It’s really hard to create a valuable software company from nothing. Most startups don’t succeed and become bigger, valuable companies.

But the ones that do succeed, with VC funding or not, always have savvy founders who worked very hard for a long, long time.

They overcame huge obstacles and made many sacrifices. They learned and transformed themselves too. It’s all pretty exciting compared to working for someone else.

When you sell your business, it’s usually over pretty quickly for founders. You’re not going to stick around and do what you did before.

It’s a different game now as part of a bigger company where you’re not in charge. 90% of acquired founders don’t stick around for long, from what I have seen in the last 30 years.

So if you are going to sell your company someday, just be aware that there’s going to be a hard transition.

Founders tell me the money in your bank account doesn’t change their lives much, once you buy a few things you need.

You’ll miss the creation, the building, the team, and the hairy challenges. You’ll probably want to do it again and create another startup.

Or…you could NOT sell your business and just run it for a long time.

Do what you love, serve customers and employees, build cool things with great teams, and keep changing the world and yourself.

I’m starting to see this is much more common and beneficial for founders than all the clapping about selling companies and winning big prizes.

Sometimes you should sell your company: when it’s no fun for the founder anymore, or it’s a great offer, or market conditions have changed.

But not always.

What if you could do what you love and keep going for a long time?

For many founders, doing what they love and having the control they require was the point of starting their companies in the first place.

Check out the Practical Founders Podcast to hear real stories from serious founders who built valuable software companies without big funding. Some sold and some didn’t.

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