June 30, 2022

Chapter 13 — Breathe…just breathe

As I’ve previously mentioned, a lot of the new business for Difrent sat with me. Then I found my time was consumed with due diligence and this had a huge impact. Working like that has an impact on everything — personal and professional — and can swallow you up and cause your mind to play tricks. I could lead and deliver the due diligence, but I was never playing to my strengths. I felt like I’d taken my eyes off the prize while spinning all the plates. It could easily damage our numbers, if I wasn’t careful. I’m just not one to compromise. I’m all about giving everything and there were many internal battles raging.

The stress had been as close to unbearable as it could be. Certainly the most I’d felt since leaving the NHS. I was questioning everything about my entire existence at this point. Constantly. The internal battles made way for all-out war. I kept my shit together though.

On the evening of the sale, I wanted to speak to each and every member of the Difrent crew. As we were selling to a listed company, I couldn’t tell anyone during the lead-up (except the senior management team via a legal agreement). The moment the deal was done I got on the phone and told everyone what it would mean to them personally and professionally, their job security going forward, and answered any of their questions. These calls ran long into the night and wrapped up about 10:30pm. I felt it was important. People had committed to the journey as well and, once the news hit, I wanted them to be prepared and reassure them that they were safe and there was no need to panic. I also wanted them to feel as included as they could be. With this in mind, I felt it would be a nice gesture to gift a sum of money to them. And here goes a shout out to Simon Wardley, who helped reinforce my gut feeling that this was how it should be. I’d had a few moments of getting shit wrong, but this was definitely getting it right.

I was very close to a lot of the Difrent staff. I felt a big responsibility around the fact that so many of them weren’t only employees, but good mates as well. Although I was certain the money would have been welcomed, security and continuity probably meant more to them. I’m glad I made the calls. It was the right way to break the news and the right way to start the transition.

And then, it was all official. The dream was realised. Everyone who needed to know was in the loop. The night drew to a close on the day of the sale.

I smiled.

Now it was time to breathe.

I could maybe take some time to reflect on what a massive achievement these last few years had been.

My takeaways

  1. Resilience is needed for a company sale.
  2. If you’re on the hook for a key part of the business as usual, make sure you bring in some support. We were lucky the deal did go through but, if it hadn’t, I would have had my eye off the new business for three months with no reward.
  3. Taking time out after a sale is not a luxury and should be factored into the deal.
  4. The personal approach to your staff during a sale is essential so they feel supported through a stressful transition.
  5. Do the right thing. Whether it’s right for you, right for your people, and right for your business. You’ll never please everyone, and never forget that you’re on your own journey.

What helped me breathe

Breathing. Just breathing. I was introduced to the Wim Hof method about this time. Apart from mirroring the title of the chapter, this has become an essential life tool for me.

Have a read and have a go!

Rachel meditating facing the water

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