Before you sell, close or leave your business

There are many reasons why you might decide to step away from your business. You might be doing so willingly, or you might feel that it's your only option. If you'd prefer not to leave, close or sell your business, consider if:

  • any of the business challenges below apply to you
  • these resources and information can help you find a better alternative.

On this page

COVID-19 or natural disasters

If COVID-19 or a natural disaster has played a role in your decision to leave your business, consider the resources below. Your challenges are likely to be similar to what other people have experienced, and can often be worked through.

Support, resources and options

Financial pressures

It can be very difficult for small business owners to manage all areas of their businesses, especially financial challenges. Common financial issues for small business owners include:

  • cashflow problems
  • bad debtors
  • seasonal trends
  • high overheads
  • increasing business costs.

These can lead to significant financial stress when you have to pay suppliers, cover your overheads and meet your tax obligations.

Resources and support

Address financial issues with a solution-focused approach.

There are many free services available, for example:

You can also read more about:

If you have a bookkeeper or accountant, ask them to help you understand your business finances and give you a monthly budget and yearly cashflow forecast. This can help you stay on track.

Mental health challenges

Small business owners are often responsible for every aspect of their business. This can be overwhelming. It might feel as if there's no break from the daily pressure of keeping the business going.

Resources and support

It's important to make time to take care of your mental health to prevent negative impacts on your health and family life. It's often easier to discuss problems with someone neutral and objective. A professional can give you an unbiased perspective to help you find ways to cope with personal challenges.

Staffing and resourcing

Staffing and resourcing issues can cause:

  • reduced trading hours and productivity
  • reduced business income
  • business owners having to carry extra responsibilities and work excessive hours
  • business owners feeling burnt out and suffering significant mental health challenges.

Workforce challenges can include:

  • staff shortages
  • high staff turnover
  • under-skilled staff
  • high costs of staff and contractors.

Resources, support and options

Find out more about:

You could also try to:

Register for a free Mentoring for Growth session and get assistance from professionals and small business owners who've faced many of the same challenges and can share their strategies with you.

Work/life balance

Small business owners frequently overcommit their time to keep their business running and moving forward.

Often, this means sacrificing time for themselves and time with family and friends. This can quickly become the routine, leaving the business owner with no work-life balance.

Support and options

Prioritise and plan time away from work. Consider:

  • setting aside 2 hours twice a week to do something you enjoy (e.g. reading, going to the beach or bushwalking with your family)
  • writing a wish list of non-work-related things you'd like to try (e.g. a hobby like creative DIY projects at home, or weekend drives to local places of interest). Allocate 5 hours per week to pursue these interests.

Also read about:

Reputational impacts and public relations issues

Despite your efforts to provide quality products and services and a healthy, safe and supportive workplace for staff, your business can still attract negative publicity and damaging online feedback.

Unfortunately, you can't:

  • prevent unhappy customers or disgruntled staff sharing their issues publicly
  • control what your competitors are offering that may be seen as cheaper or better than your product or service.

The negative financial and reputational impacts on your business can make you feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to fix it.

Resources and support

Find tips for:

Access free Mentoring for Growth services from professionals or small business owners who have faced similar challenges and can share their strategies with you.

To help prevent future incidents, you can read more about:

Competitors dominating the market

A new competitor on the market may invest in big marketing campaigns and offer low introductory pricing to attract your customers. This can impact your sales volumes, cash flow and profits.

Resources and support

Your customers will usually return to you if you have:

  • quality products at a competitive market price
  • good customer service
  • a unique offering
  • an attractive loyalty program.

Avoid rushing out a response to your competitors by, for example, drastically lowering your prices and getting into a pricing war.

You can:

Personal relationships

Many small businesses are owned and operated by couples in a relationship. While many couples can successfully become business partners, tensions in either relationship can negatively affect the other relationship.

If business and personal relationships are not separated:

  • personal tensions can have a negative impact on staff, customers and sales
  • business issues can cause serious relationship issues.

If these issues are playing a role in your decision to leave or close your business, consider the following strategies.

Support, resources and options

It's important to establish boundaries at home for no-business talk and clearly define your workplace roles, responsibilities and communication methods.

Try these strategies to successfully separate your business and personal lives:

  • Create a specific role and title for each business owner.
  • Write a simple position description for each business owner. Allocate and list their core duties based on their skills and experience. Try not to have an overlap between these roles.
  • Set up a 20-minute morning briefing to discuss the tasks, activities and challenges for the day ahead.
  • Set up an afternoon catch-up of 20–30 minutes before you leave for home, to talk through business issues instead of talking about it at home.
  • Arrange longer discussions once a week (e.g. on Mondays) to plan business activities.
  • Set boundaries, for example, no business talk during dinner or, if you're operating a home business, only having business conversations in your 'office' areas
  • As you go through the day, note down the things you want to discuss with your partner at your afternoon 'de-briefing' so you don't forget. This will prevent you raising business discussions at home.

You can also:

Retirement

Your decision to retire may be influenced by a number of factors, including your financial situation and physical health.

There are some options and alternatives you can consider.

Support, resources and options

Before retiring fully:

  • get professional advice to ensure you no longer need to rely on the income your business may have generated
  • consider your options to sell the business or pass it to someone through succession planning
  • check if you can help the new owner through the transition phase by working part-time, providing you with an income as well as a transition to your new lifestyle.

You still want to sell or exit the business

If you still decide to sell or exit the business, remember there's a lot you can do to make sure you get the best possible personal, financial and legal outcomes. Read more about:

Also consider...