I think many entrepreneurs know exactly what they are going to do after they sell their first company. Maybe it involves margaritas on the beach, or a gig at another company, or staying on at the company they founded under the new ownership or maybe spinning up a new one of their own right away.
Here’s what I knew for sure when we sold our company: not much.
I knew I would be starting another company. But I didn’t know what kind. Or when. It wasn’t like I had a burning vision of what came next. I just knew there would be a ‘next’. I expected there to be some ‘blank page’ days ahead of us.
Then friends and associates started asking for help.
“Can you give me some input on this business plan?”
“Can you help me get my business ready to sell it?”
“Can you tell me what you think the valuation of this company should be?”
“Can you help my sales manager make a playbook?”
“Can you interview this sales candidate I am thinking about hiring?”
“Can you help me tweak our financial model?”
“Can you help me pick an investment banker?”
Suddenly, before we knew it, we were working. And then working some more. And it was so much fun. Turns out, we love helping entrepreneurs solve problems and create opportunities in their businesses. Along the way, we were writing articles about the things we were helping people with. But we didn’t really have a place to publish them, because we didn’t have a company so we certainly didn’t have a blog.
So, we spun up a blog. But, we didn’t have a name for the blog, so we didn’t take anything live. We just kept blogging. Then one day we started kicking around blog names. Which turned into a conversation about company names. There wasn’t a company to name, but it was a fun exercise anyway. It was meaningful and personal.
And then one day there was a name right there in front of us. And a company grew out of the work we were doing helping other tech companies.
We’re just getting Beacon9 to take shape. Maybe more accurately, Beacon9 is taking shape right in front of us. And it’s like getting to know a new acquaintance. After years of running my former company, and the intimacy and patterns that come with that, this has been like getting to know a new friend. It’s exciting and new. And like a new friend, you don’t know what they will say next or what story they will tell.
Maybe friendship is a bad analogy. Maybe starting a new company after selling your first is more like visiting another country for the first time. Things are familiar. And also not.
Or maybe it’s like loving your kids. They are so different from each other and yet you don’t love one more than the other.
Or maybe, it’s just like riding a bike. You know what needs to be done to get from point A to point B, and you just start pedaling.