When Is The Right Time to Sell

Published February 2024

Your Identity


What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a common question asked of children. What many don’t realise is that this question still plagues a lot of adults. It’s also something DMY notices can weigh heavily on practice owners when it comes time to let go and sell their practice. 

We have sought further insight on this from Casey Benjamin at The Courage Project, an expert in leadership coaching who works with individuals and businesses to help them gain clarity and direction to move forward with more confidence to achieve their goals.

At the heart of our earlier question is the important concept of identity - who or what we are. On a surface level our career is usually the first thing we mention when asked about ourselves - “I’m an accountant”, “I’m a business advisor” we answer. But what happens when we move out of our profession? Who are we then? 

The answer is - everything else. You are who you were before you went into your profession. The thing is, we often spend so long in a position that it can be hard to let go of such a big part of our identity. 

It’s common to give a great deal of weight to our career when thinking about our identity. It usually takes up the majority of our time, so it’s no wonder, when it comes time to transition out of many years of running your own practice, it can feel a little unsettling. The usual answer you provide when someone asks you about yourself, or what you do, will change - and it can take some time to get used to. 

In fact, the uncertainty of what’s on the other side - what you might say when someone asks you the question, or even how you’d spend your time, is enough to keep you holding on. How long to hold on for is as individual as we are. 

So how do you know when it’s time to let go of your practice (or that part of your identity)?

Firstly, it’s important to know that it will always be a part of you. The skills you’ve developed throughout your career are yours to keep, as are the successes and failures you experienced along the way. It’s important to note, however, that they’re only parts of you - and there are so many more. We’ll come back to this later.


Questions to Help Guide Your Decision


A few questions you can ask yourself to get clear on whether it’s time to let go of your practice: 

  • Does running my own practice still give me purpose and satisfaction?
  • Do I have the energy to keep going?
  • Have I achieved what I set out to do? 
  • If I sold my practice today, how would I spend my time? 
  • If I decide not to sell and continue on running my practice, what’s the cost to other areas of my life, including my partner and my family?


And a few deeper ones… 

  • If I were to become terminally ill, or even die within the next year, what would I regret not doing? 
  • Am I in a position, whether financially or in terms of family dynamics, to  focus on other areas of my life? 
  • What do I fear will happen if I sell my practice - and If the worst were to happen, could I handle it? 


Insights from Practice Owners Who Have Sold


We asked two of our recent clients at DMY what was their deciding factor in knowing the time was right to sell:

For Garry, who sold his accounting practice when he was in his early seventies, it was realising that he needed to break the cycle of finding reasons not to sell by talking to someone independent to gain the confidence to start the sale process:

I've always worked on securing my family's financial independence and building my business to the best of my ability. Without much thought, during my life, I've always had the preconception that 65 would be a good retirement age.

However I've found that far too quickly, a day becomes a week, the weeks become months and years. Turning 65 years came and went and 70 was fast approaching and I found myself still doing the same things and working just as hard as ever. 

I finally realised I had to sit down and at least talk with the team at DMY and start the discussion. My previous efforts to form some momentum have always stalled. I would always create problems, "how will this be handled" "how will this client take the news of me leaving". However, with Daniel and Mark directing me, I intuitively knew that everything was headed in the right direction and if I ever found myself second guessing, they were always available and more than happy to discuss my thoughts.”


For Nadia, who recently sold her bookkeeping practice when in her fifties, it was the motivation to transition away from the day-to-day responsibilities of bookkeeping and focus her energy on a new business venture offering mentoring support to help businesses  thrive and grow.

“The decision to sell was not an easy one. It was difficult because I had invested a lot of time, effort, and resources into building my business. Letting go of something you've built and nurtured can be emotionally challenging. Additionally, there were uncertainties associated with selling, such as finding the right buyer and ensuring a smooth transition.

On the other hand, it was relatively easy because I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do next and how selling the business would enable me to pursue my passion. I had a well-defined plan for my future career, which made the decision more manageable.”

Nadia also offers some excellent advice to practice owners going through a similar process in deciding when is the right time:

  • Assess Your Goals - Take time to assess your long-term career goals and personal aspirations. 
  • Evaluate Business Value - Determine the current value of your business and whether it's a good time to sell. Assess factors like market conditions, industry trends, and the financial health of your practice. 
  • Plan Your Transition - Create a detailed transition plan that outlines how you will exit the business and what your next steps will be. Ensure that your plan addresses potential challenges and risks.
  • Seek Professional Advice - Consult with your accountant, legal experts and a business broker who specialise in business sales in your industry. Their expertise can help you navigate the process effectively.
  • Emotional Preparation - Be prepared for the emotional aspect of letting go, understanding that not everyone does business your way. Selling a business can be emotionally taxing, so having a support network that you can speak to is important.


The Wrap


In summary, there is no universal “right” or “wrong” time to sell. As our recent market data shows ( Profile of A Seller ) we have had recent sellers aged from in their thirties through to in their seventies. It comes down to each individual, who you are and what drives and motivates you.

If you’d like support in understanding more about your unique identity and embracing the next chapter of your life, get in touch with Casey Benjamin at The Courage Project hello@thecourageproject.com.au.

If you would like to talk to DMY about the specifics of selling your practice reach out to DMY’s Directors below:

Mark Emney

Mobile: 0434 079 530


Daniel Jones

Mobile: 0401 493 773