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

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

Entrepreneurial Hubris

Three days after I told him I might be interested in their offer to buy my company, I was sitting across a table from them. We were in a posh conference room at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville. It was one of me, and four of them. They had been calling for the past few months expressing interest in acquiring my business. The publicly-traded company was growing through acquisition, it was just a matter of Read More

An Affair is Always a Bad Idea

Randy (not his real name) was about to make a life-altering decision. He had a need, and he wanted to fulfill it. The long term consequences were of less concern than getting what he wanted, right now. He called me, I suppose, wanting me to tell him it was a good idea. But with years of experience advising men and women in this situation, all I could do was tell Randy the truth from my heart. “Bringing in a Read More

September 12, The Day After

Today is the day after September 11, another day that will live in infamy. Ironic that September 11 this year came on the day after Hurricane Irma created historic havoc in my adopted home state of Florida, and one week after unbelievable hurricane devastation in Houston. It seems appropriate today to stop and remember those incredible first responders who go into the face of danger during the hurricanes, be it Read More

Indifference as a Style of Negotiation

“They have called several times over the past 18 months. Their offer is getting closer to what I want for the company.” Tom (not his real name) called me on the recommendation of his sister who I knew from church. He owns a medical services company that he started in 2005. The company has been profitable from its second year of operation, but the past three years the company has been growing at double-digit Read More