The Syndrome Known as “This Is How We Do It In Our Industry”

“You have to understand, Jim, people in this industry have a real attachment to their business. It might just be a thing to you, but for us, it’s our life.” Randy (not his real name) and I recently met at a conference. He came up to me after the session I led on preparing to sell a business and told me he had just started to think about the process. He didn’t tell me his age but I assumed he was past 70, though he Read More

Who Makes the Decision Might Determine If It’s a Home Run or Strikeout

“Dad expects me to run the company, except he won’t let me run the company.” Clay (not his real name) was one of the most interesting businessmen I’d ever met. Prior to taking over his Dad’s cement manufacturing business, Clay ran a large coffee harvesting company in Central America, and before that he was in the US Army Special Forces. Clay got a degree in economics from an Ivy League college expecting to become Read More

The Truth Can Hurt

“They offered $8.5 million for my company, and now you’re telling me it’s only worth $5 million. What did they know that you don’t?” Sandra (not her real name) was not happy with me. After reviewing her company's financial history and her forecast for 2018, I told her that her company could be sold for $5 million, maybe $6 million, if a couple of things fell in our favor. I could see her obvious frustration as she Read More

Let It Go! An Awesome Song and Great Business Advice

Elsa just had a big fight with her sister, Anna. She decides to run away and live her life in exile. As she enters her icy mountain palace, she sings the now well-known song, Let It Go.* It’s one of those memorable songs …once you hear it, it’s hard to get it out of your head. I find myself singing that song in my head when I talk with business owners who have waited too long to sell their company. It breaks my Read More

Selling Your Business, Part 2: Understand Your Business’s Market Before Selling It

Understanding your market is absolutely vital to developing a successful business. Knowing what your customers want will help you create products and tailor services that align closely with your sales strategies and inventory. Knowing your market is also helpful for selling your business. Being able to explain to potential buyers the characteristics of the customers you serve and their potential for growth will be Read More

Perfect Logic for Picking a Spouse, Bad Logic for Picking a Business

“Buying a business because you love it is a terrible reason to buy a business.” Jeff (not his real name) seemed surprised by my comment. “Why’s that?” he asked, “I’ve heard it said if you find your passion you’ll never work a day in your life. Are you telling me that’s not true?”  I frequently meet with folks who say they want to leave corporate life and become an entrepreneur. The desire to do your own thing and Read More

Selling Under Duress: Don’t Be a Harvey Weinstein

“My doctor told me yesterday this cancer will likely take me in 6 to 8 months. I need to sell my company now before my crazy ex-wives and kids have a full-blown food fight over my assets.” Andrew (not his real name) wasn’t kidding when he first told me this story. At the time of our first call, I kind of assumed he was exaggerating, but once we started working together I realized he was serious about two things: 1) Read More

The Gambler Story: When on the Growth Scale Do You Sell?

“Kenny Rogers had it right. You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run. That’s great advice for gamblers, and for entrepreneurs. For me now, it’s time to fold ‘em and walk away.” Ross (not his real name) didn’t strike me as the type who would listen to country music. Born and raised in the Northeast, he came to Nashville when his wife took a corporate role Read More

The Earn Out: Painful Stretching to Make a Shaky Deal

“Will I have to take an earn out when I sell my business?” Drew (not his real name) was ready to sell his company but he was scared. “I hear horror stories about business owners selling on an earn out which ends up not being paid. I can’t afford to let that happen.” Not one to mince words, I decided to level with him. “Drew, a good business with a reasonable valuation represented by a capable intermediary will Read More

Plan B: When the Partnership Goes South

“What’s worse, a partnership that goes bad after a few years or after just a few months?” Landon (not his real name) was almost in tears. “Before the launch, it seemed we were on the same page, but it wasn’t a matter of weeks before I could sense we had a different vision. I feel like such a failure.” Sitting at Starbucks with a man who’s about to cry is a bit awkward. I felt terrible, too, not having pithy advice Read More