The first day after selling your CPA firm will probably be very odd.
You wake up and get ready to go into the office just like every day for the last 20-plus years. Suddenly you remember: You sold your practice! Life as you know it is radically shifting. Your future is suddenly unknown, which can be both frightening and exciting.
Coping with Emotions
How do you feel about this transition? Emotions may not be a big topic in business – and you certainly don’t need to share them aloud with everybody – but it’s important to at least acknowledge them to yourself and your nearest and dearest.
After decades of the stresses of running a CPA firm, and the extra challenges of the selling process, many sellers feel relief. The pressures and responsibilities have suddenly eased.
But mixed with the relief and joy you experienced finding the perfect buyer, other emotions also surface. On the first day after selling, you’ll go to the office to help the new owner with the transition. Somebody else will be sitting in your seat – probably someone younger and more energetic. This is almost certain to feel strange. Be prepared to experience a mixture of sadness, nostalgia, and a little twinge of jealousy for this person starting out on their own new journey . . . in your old chair.
Focusing on the Transition
Okay, you’ve acknowledged your emotions, and will process them outside the office. Right now, on your first day after the sale, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and help everybody make a smooth transition.
No matter how competent and confident this younger person is, he or she is bound to be experiencing nerves and second-guessing. So you focus on putting the new owner at ease and assuring him or her of the CPA firm’s future success. You built a great practice, and you sold it for an excellent price. A big part of you went into building that firm. You want it to continue on under this new leadership, and you realize that your guidance and help in the transition process are going to be vital to the buyer’s success.
Weeks ago, as the closing of the sale of your CPA practice approached, you began thinking through the transition process. You already have a pretty good plan of attack.
On this first day of transition, you and your successor will go over this plan one more time . . . and you will begin the transition process.
Over the years, you have built up a tremendous group of clients. You have gotten to know many of them, and some may even be good friends. One of the things you looked for in a successor was confidence that they would be able to serve your clients well.
In the first week of transitioning, you’ll facilitate meetings between the buyer and clients. Setting up a lunch with the buyer and one of the larger clients is a good way to ease the transition on the first day.
Consider having a private conversation with each of the staff members that have worked for you. Do your best to give them confidence in the new buyer, and make them feel secure in their jobs.
Your former employees might be sad about you leaving and fearful about the transition. Purposely or accidentally, they might make you feel guilty. Don’t take that on. Even if you’re having second thoughts and missing your practice already, it’s important to emphasize the positive aspects of the firm’s future when talking to employees.
Who will you be without your firm? Many of us identify so closely with our job titles that we feel naked when suddenly stripped of our roles.
Just remember, you are more than your career. Now that you’ve sold your CPA firm, the possibilities are endless: Golf, travel, mentoring young people, philanthropy, skydiving, a new business venture, time with family. The person who bought your CPA practice is making a new start, but so are you.
Make sure you help the buyer as much as you can, but on your first day after the sale, LEAVE EARLY! You have earned it, and there is someone new to shoulder the primary burden of the firm.
Possibility of Working for the Buyer at a Reduced Level
Many of the accounting practice sales that we negotiate for our sellers include the ability for the seller to perform billable work for the buyer on a part-time basis. This is only part of the deal if such an arrangement is desired by the seller. The seller could work in a number of areas, including special projects, rainmaking, or recurring tax & accounting work. Sellers whose deals have included such arrangements often find that they remain professionally engaged without the stress of working full time or managing the firm.
Your Sales and Transition Support
At Accounting Broker Acquisition Group, we’ve helped hundreds of sellers sell their CPA practices for maximum value. Nothing makes transitioning out of your CPA practice easier and more profitable than having an experienced specialty business broker in your corner.
Accounting Broker Acquisition Group is the only national business brokerage of its type comprised 100-percent of brokers who are CPAs with significant “Big Four” merger and acquisition experience. Contact us today to help you experience a fantastic Day 1 after selling your CPA firm for maximum value.