Don’t let your ego ruin your business sale

Somebody recently asked our former CEO, Rob Goddard, “What has been the biggest challenge for you with a client?”, and for a brief moment he was actually stumped.

Nobody had asked him that in twenty years.  As a team, we have a great track record and even during the pandemic have enjoyed a high sales success rate without dropping prices.  It took him a couple of moments to come up with his answer, but this was it:

“Ego,” he said with triumph. “Client ego.”

It struck him as such a good question that he made a short video about it (you can watch it here) and, whilst I might have used a different descriptive, I must agree.  An inflated, super-ego is probably the biggest and most common threat to the sale of a business:  the owner’s inability to step back from the sales process, to let the experts suggest the right decisions and guide the process.

Are you thinking of selling your business?  If you are, then before you look into hiring the right team to help you to prepare for selling, ask yourself a question:

“Am I prepared to listen and keep an open mind?”

If the answer is ‘no’, you need check yourself.  You might know your business better than anybody else, but that does not mean that you’re the expert in finding the right buyer for it and getting the right price.  If you let your ego step in the way of good advice, you could end up shooting yourself in the foot and scuppering your own chances of a sensational sale.


I’m not suggesting that you don’t bring your opinion and knowledge to the table. Your experience, confidence and knowledge of your team, business processes and systems is an invaluable source of information for any sales team.

Your self-esteem is one of the key ingredients in the success of your sale, in fact.  Any serious prospective buyer will watch you carefully for assurance and confidence in the future performance of the business.

Self-esteem is very different to ego – or should we say, super-ego.  The latter is the inner voice that pipes up, “I know that!” when you don’t, and “You can’t teach me anything about my business – I know what’s best …”.  Perhaps you do on the day-to-day running of it:  selling it is another kettle of fish, mind you.  Believe me, there’s a whole lot more to that process than meets the eye.

Enter the process with an open mind and keep it open for as long as it takes to get the deal signed. If you don’t let the experts do their best work for you, the journey will lead to a dead end.

In any case, in these very strange and novel times, nobody can fully predict how a business’s sale process will flow.  Covid-19 has changed the marketplace radically, so your relying on the proven experience of sales experts has never been more crucial.


How can you tell if your super-ego is likely to get in the way of making your successful sale?  It can be quite difficult to be objective about yourself on this issue but it’s important that you appraise yourself before you begin the process.  There’s too much at stake for you to shoot yourself in the foot.

Here are a few things you can consider to see if you have a potential, self-sabotaging super-ego:

    If you’re used to going your own way irrespective of your team’s ideas, you might be headstrong.  Think back to the last time you took somebody else’s advice.  If you can’t remember it, that’s your clue.
    You’ve been running your business from the ground up and know it better than anybody else … it’s time to step back and let go of some of the control before you ask the sales experts for help.
    If you’ve lost all sight of the more ‘menial’ tasks that you’ve handed over to your team, such as bookkeeping and staff training, then you’re not going to be as helpful to the sales experts as you think.  Be the first to admit that you don’t know everything that’s going on daily in your business and ask for updates and knowledge from the relevant members of your team.
    Have you become a little too over-confident in your own performance and that of your team?  Don’t assume that everything is perfect under the hood of your business; there’s always something that needs to be set right.  Rather, let the sales experts find out about it early and avoid an embarrassing admission to a prospective buyer later.
    Have you a tendency to stick doggedly to your chosen path even when it clearly is not the right one?  Has anyone accused you of doing so?  If so, you could be in possession of a super-ego and need to commit all the more to your keeping an open mind.  Don’t start the sales process without it!
    I’m sure it’s not all that bad, but if you suspect that your people are hesitant to approach you and tend not to ask for your input at work, let alone a pint afterwards, then they might be trying to tell you something.


Take some time today to reflect on the above and be honest with yourself.  Believe me, loads of business owners recognise at least a few of these points in themselves.  A bit of over-confidence is part of being good at what you do, an ingredient of entrepreneurship.

It’s important, though, to become self-aware now to save yourself tears later.  Commit to entering the sales process with an open mind before you speak to the experts.

Whether you want to move ahead right away and sell or to hold back and prepare, EvolutionCBS can help.  Find out how you can continue to prepare your business for sale without having to make any premature decisions by talking to one of the team at EvolutionCBS.

You’re welcome to come along to one of our free EvolutionCBS webinars.  In the meantime, you can make a start towards your goal right now and download your complimentary Business Valuation Report at


Comments are closed.

© 2024 Evolution Complete Business Sales Ltd.

  Keep me updated

Dear visitor. Please subscribe if you'd like to receive updates and events on selling or buying a business

* we hate spam and never share your details.