MBOs are a positive solution to both selling a business and simultaneously rewarding those who have worked hard to make it successful. However, the stakes are high, egos can get in the way and many of the potential pitfalls are to be found in the emotional hurdles that need to be overcome. Well established relationships need to transition; self-limiting beliefs can be triggered and if not dealt with disaster can ensue.

Letting Go Prompts Fear

Having started a business and overcome all the challenges that come with building a successful company, when faced with the actuality of ‘letting go’ the exiting owner can feel threatened.

Such fears are not logical. In our rational mind we know it’s time to move on but the absolute finality of no longer having a ‘responsible role’ can cause the exiting owner to panic internally. Questions arise such as ‘who am I now?’ and ‘what is my value to the world?’

Suggestion: If retiring rather than setting up another business have clear defined projects to progress to once the MBO is complete.

Becoming an Adroit CEO Takes Time

The first couple of years after the deal are the most challenging. It takes time to transition from being a competent manager to becoming an adept CEO. The skill sets are different. Managers can be excellent motivators and administrators, efficient at installing and adhering to systems, but may be risk averse and lack vision.They do not automatically have the intuitive wisdom and innate trust in themselves to handle difficult, entirely new situations.

Suggestion: Offer the new CEO a mentor,someone who can allay self-doubt and limiting beliefs.

The Importance of Trust

Trust is a measure of our ability to live with uncertainty, and faith that all will turn out for the best even when things look difficult.When we trust others, we reassure and inspire them, and they lift their game as a result.The more we are willing to trust, the greater the gift we give and the more we are likely to receive in return.

Trust is pushed to its limits when the previous owners witness the new management team doing things differently, especially if their strategies fail to work immediately. In such cases the new management will respond best if they are allowed to sort out their own challenges.The former owners can indicate they are available to help, but that is all.They must resist judgement and condemnation. Also, fretting and worrying tends to attract the exact negative outcome it is most in fear of.

Suggestion: Surrender, let go of the situation and give it up – not in the sense of giving in, but surrendering to the Universe in the faith that all will come good.


All MBOs are based on future anticipated performance and forecasts and as such are best guesses. During what can be lengthy and detailed negotiations it is vitally important to stay in touch with our intuition. It enables us to see behind statistics and forecasts and make useful decisions in spite of incomplete information.

Our intuition is an inner voice that we all possess and an astute counsellor. It comes with an uplifting feeling, unlocks creativity and brings about win-win solutions. It frequently defies logic, at least initially, but is complementary to it. It is when feel relaxed and centred that we allow space for our intuition to come through.

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