Business is fun again!

I sold my business in January 2006. I have been told by friends that I look 10 years younger. My wonderful bride of 28 years did not want to sell and was depressed when we did. Now she is having the time of her life. We bought a 40-foot RV and travel whenever we want to. I am on my third start-up in the environmental industry, and I'm having a ball. Business is fun again! My vote is: SELL!

Bill Haile
American Ecotech
Deer Park, New York

Know when to fold 'em

Business is a lot like poker. The most important thing is knowing the right time to walk away. If you've hit a number you're happy with, take your winnings, stash some money, and look for another exciting game to play.

Bill Corrigan
San Antonio

Can you really walk away?

I've been reading your articles for years, and these companies seem a part of you. I find it hard to believe you could let them go. From my experience, a company is never the same when it leaves the hands of the original owner. The warmth and loyalty are gone. The original owners of a company I worked for sold to an investment firm, which got rid of half the employees. The new owners made us go back to how we'd done things 10 years earlier. If you sell, your company will probably never be run as well as when you owned it. You have to be okay with that.

Voula Michos
Broomall, Pennsylvania

If I had the money…

SELL! Smell the roses. Treat every day as if it's your last. One day you will be correct. Do you want to do have a heart attack driving on the BQE? I pound the pavement every day selling hospital supplies. If I had the money, I would damn sure stop and watch all of my grandkids' games.

Matt Goodwin
Hoboken, New Jersey

Giving up the life

What would you do if you sold the business? Making a ton of money is nice, but it's hard to replace the awesome life that you've created for yourself, right?

David Mammano
Publisher, Next Step Magazine
Rochester, New York

Life is too short

I had an opportunity to sell my business about three years ago. After much reflection, I realized that this was my chance to do something new and exciting. I had been dabbling in commercial real estate and used the proceeds to buy more buildings, which now generate plenty of income, allowing me to pursue a new business venture. Life is too short to do one thing for too long.

J.B. Roberts Jr.
Managing partner, Pike Properties
Madison, Wisconsin

What about your employees?

Your employees should be the deciding factor. If your employees will be taken care of, I would say sell. If not, you owe it to them to remain in business and grow.

Scott Siegal
President, Maggio Roofing Co.
Bethesda, Maryland

It's already over

Several years ago I joined a start-up that was one of those special places where everyone believed in the mission, worked hard, and formed great, lasting relationships. It was also a roller coaster ride. Many times my wife and I discussed whether, for sanity's sake, I should move on. I always wound up saying, "I just have to see how it ends." In time, the company was acquired by a firm with a drastically different culture. Many people were let go. Those of us who stayed on were miserable. But I kept telling my wife, "I just have to see how it ends." Finally one day she shot back, "It's ended. You've already seen how. Now it's time for the next thing." She was right. I left, started my own business, and never looked back. It seems to me your current story is ending, too. You just haven't realized it yet.

Steve Yaeger
Partner, Aspyrion
South St. Paul, Minnesota

Is the thrill gone?

Being in love with a business is like being in love with a beautiful woman. You tend to put on blinders and overlook the things about her that annoy you. I find that I overlook annoying things about my business because I love it so much. If you still have blinders on at CitiStorage, don't sell. If the blinders are off and the little things now annoy you, take the money and run!

Pete Kadens
CEO, Acquirent

Now I invest in people

For almost two decades, I worked to build a retail company from a local two-store chain into a national powerhouse. Though I didn't own the company, I earned my way into the presidency and eventually owned a large part of the stock. We built four other companies, with sales ranging up to $300 million. Then I sold my interest and changed my life. I formed four small companies. Although I missed the massive paychecks, I didn't need them. Like you, I had accumulated enough. Now I invest in people and help them achieve success. My wife says I work more now than I did before I "retired." I can't tell you how much I enjoy getting back into entrepreneurial endeavors. Before, my yardstick was money. Now I measure my success by how I feel, whom I help, what I change. It's a new adventure each day. Don't be anxious about taking on something new.

Columbus, Ohio