Think Like an Athlete to Sell Your Business

Every two years the Summer and Winter Olympics are a reminder of what can be accomplished when you set goals, train consistently and stay focused.

If you’ve reached the peak of your career and are considering selling your business, you can learn a lot from Olympic athletes. Here are six lessons you can take away from this summer’s games in Rio:

1. Find coaches. Just like world-class athletes, every business needs outside perspective and advice from those who have been there and helped others. A good start is to touch base with your accountant, attorney, Pinnacle financial advisor and business broker. Get them on the same page and make sure they understand your goals so they can keep you on track and give you a push when needed.

2. Get the right training tools. Athletes pull from a ton of different tools, schedules and theories so they don’t need to reinvent the wheel when developing their training regimens. You also have a wealth of resources available to you. One good option is completing and sharing Pinnacle’s business plan template, as new owners will want to know the ins and outs of the business. This template will give potential buyers not only a high-level overview for your business, but will also give you a chance to document your proprietary information that has taken years to accumulate.

3. Stay disciplined. Keep putting in the time—just because the event is almost here, that doesn’t mean you can slow down. Stay disciplined and make sure to take time to review every aspect of your business before getting to the final event. The buyer will pay more for a thriving business than one that’s treading water.

4. Follow routines and processes. Again, don’t let the event get you off track or overwhelmed. Make sure you have defined routines and processes (and use them) so the new owner knows they can step in without being overwhelmed by the moment.

5. Pass the baton. It’s important to find a buyer who is a good fit for the business you’ve built. This person should not simply want to own the job you currently have. Whether your successor works for you or a competitor, he or she should be able to complete your vision—to take the baton you handed over and run with it.

6. Honor the support team and crowd. It’s important to let your team know they were critical to the business’s success in the past and will be the same going forward. Be like the athletes who give credit where credit is due in interviews, on the podium and through shout-outs to family in the stands.

Many Olympians have trained for most of their lives and sacrificed nearly everything to get to this point in their careers. So have you. If you keep up the discipline and determination that have made your business successful until the very end, you can transition ownership with satisfaction and pride.

Larry Vinyard can be reached at 423-386-2828 or by email at

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