Having negotiated the sale of our holiday property business that we launched together and ran for seven years we approached the emotional and fraught time when contracts would be exchanged, the point of no return. At this stage too we would be able to tell our team the news that the sale of our business meant that we would no longer be involved but their jobs were secure as they become part of a larger organisation.
Knowing this would be a complicated time for us, our team and our buyers we wanted to be there ‘on the ground’ during the sales completion process.
In May we therefore did what most people would do, well ok maybe not many people but some people at least, which is set of our in self-converted VW camper van with the plan to camp in the UK wherever we needed to for as long as we needed to.
First the most surprising and potentially embarrassing thing happened. Do I even want to put it in writing? …we joined the Caravan club! To much amusement of my caravan owning family and now fellow club members. It was my northern roots taking hold when I found we would save our membership fee after staying just three nights, I couldn’t resist the bargain.
The first week did not go as we hoped. Our plan was to exchange contracts on the day we arrived in the UK and be able to tell the team immediately. Unfortunately after we had set up camp in Moreton-in-Marsh campsite, close to the office so that we could go talk to the team the following day, we found there was more data and more double checking to be done by the buyers.
At this stage we had to maintain full confidentiality and therefore work away from our team. So we connected to the painfully slow campsite wifi and pulled together business data and checked the sales contract sitting in a field in the Cotswolds…
We were deflated and emotionally exhausted knowing we had to be completely professional and detached but it felt alien and deceitful not able to tell our team.
We were pulled in two directions working with our enthusiastic team on creative ideas to continue to grow the business and the harsh reality that actually all we really needed to do was maintain the ‘numbers’.
I admit sometimes I just gave up and abandoned my desk for a comfier spot on the grass to put things in a different perspective…and the environment was a little distracting and not perhaps encouraging of the strictest work ethic…
Finally ready for exchange, we were asked to print and sign the 40 page contract.
We were stumped for a moment but then set off to the nearest shopping centre, bought a printer-scanner and signed, scanned and emailed the contract from the office/van in the car park.
Finally we could involve the team and work each day, openly, in the office as we prepared for the completion of the sale. We were first in the shower blocks each morning and possibly looked a little out of place in office wear rather than shorts and t-shirts as the rest of the campers.
We always made sure we had lots of coffee and a hearty breakfast to set us up for the challenges of the day ahead and continued to grow the business as well as crunch the numbers.
It was an exhausting time so when we needed a break we escaped the ‘board room’ for some fresh air and relaxation…
On a couple of weekends, admittedly feeling a little fenced in by our little field we escaped to Birmingham for some much needed curry and concrete.
During the week, back to the Moreton-in-Marsh field to be close to the team, dressing in our van for the office each day. Many evenings, drained, we arrived back after most of our campsite neighbours had retired in doors but still with the long summer evenings still had time to relax and enjoy some wonderful evening walks.
and stunning early summer sunsets.
We camped until all was complete in mid June and after a celebration with the new owners of our business in Bideford, we set off home.
One last stop in the camper van, at an aire on the French motorway. We know how to live the life!
We were both very quiet, processing all that we had learned and experiences not just over the past seven weeks but seven years. I felt so proud of what we had accomplished but felt empty too as our involvement with Sheepskin slowly disappeared into sunset…
On the drive south we found we were both feeling the same and agreed we should force ourselves to celebrate, take time to reflect and recognise all we and our team had achieved. So picked up some Champagne on our way through Champagne and did just that when we got home.After our reflections we agreed; if we were to ever do the same again, we would do the same again!