Seller's remorse

<p><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/10/business/smallbusiness/10sbiz.html">The New York Times</a> has just posted an article on the sad price of entrepreneurial success--selling the business to someone who does not share your vision for the company you founded.&nbsp; <br />
<br />
<a href="http://www.unileverusa.com/ourbrands/foods/benandjerrys.asp">Making the transition</a> from charismatic leader to hired hand or outsider can be difficult for anyone who poured their lives into a startup, but the sense of loss can be even greater for folks who see themselves as social entrepreneurs.&nbsp; After all, chances are that the mega-corporation paying big bucks for a socially responsible firm is eyeing its profits, not its public values.&nbsp; Once the founders are gone, there's a real risk that the company's heart and soul will soon follow.<br />
<br />
How you deal with success can be as crucial as how you adapt to problems.&nbsp; In <a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=y5vbLUNsuHE">Pretty Woman</a> a hooker with a heart of gold dissuades a corporate raider from gutting a family business committed to its local stakeholders, but as a practical matter that's not a sustainable M&amp;A strategy, at least if you live outside Nevada.&nbsp; <br />
<br />
For an example of a company whose founders managed to exert an influence long after they were gone, check out the ABC Family cable network.&nbsp; The channel was <a href="">originally</a> part of Pat Robertson's nonprofit Christian Broadcasting Network empire, and thanks to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/28/arts/television/28fami.html">a contractual condition of its sale</a> ABC has to keep &quot;family&quot; in the channel's name and must broadcast the 700 Club three times a day. &nbsp;</p>