Relying on the Irrational Decision

“Why is finding a business to buy so hard? I’ve been looking for eight months, talking to brokers, bankers, anybody who might have a lead. All I’m seeing are problem businesses.” Elizabeth (not her real name) told me she was ready to leave her corporate job with one of Nashville’s most prestigious large companies. “I am well paid and doing the kind of work I went to school for, but ten years in to it, I’m just Read More

My Company, My Prison

She thought her divorce would free her up to run the company the way she wanted. Marianna (not her real name) and her former husband had been business partners for eight years. They had a great working relationship when the company was launched, but the company’s success seemed to create a wall between them. If she said zig, he wanted to zag. I met Marianna through a Nashville-based service organization. Ten Read More

The Thin Line Between Warm & Fuzzy and Hot & Messy

“My partner and I have grown apart. He isn’t the same fantastic guy he was when I offered him a full partnership in 2007. He plays favorites with the employees, he comes and goes as he pleases. His arrogance is creating a toxic environment. If we don’t separate soon, it will kill our business. Can you help?” Archie (not his real name) asked me to meet him and his wife at their home to assure full confidence in the Read More

Goodbye to Goodwill

“Back in the day, our EBITDA was about one million a year, and we had blue-chip clients. But a couple of years ago, we lost some key clients and it killed our cash flow. We still have a great reputation, so a buyer could take the goodwill we’ve built and really grow with it.” Norm (not his real name) called me on the advice of his personal financial planner who I knew through the Nashville chapter of the Exit Read More

Selling Your Business, Keep the Vultures Away

“Hey honey, come look at this, this is weird.” My wife, Emily (her real name), was looking out toward our backyard from the kitchen window. “This is unbelievable, kinda spooky,” she said. I looked out to see vultures in my backyard. Big, black, scary-looking creatures. The fact that it was dusk made the scene even more ominous. I counted 21, there may have been more. From my vantage point, it looked like they were Read More

How Selling a Business is Like Flying a Skywriting Biplane

“We have two lines of business, one has been making money for fourteen years, the other has been losing money since we started it three years ago. We’re certain this new line will be profitable next year, but we want to sell the business this year. Should we jettison the money-losing line now, or will a buyer see that we are close to turning the corner as a good thing?” Carl (not his real name) brought his Read More

Things Can Go Wrong in the Wild West

“I researched these guys before the first call. They seemed legit, and I could tell they weren’t on a fishing expedition. They knew a ton about my industry, the players, and opportunities. You think they might be a real buyer for my company?” I felt sorry for Angie. She looked tired, and running this company was nothing she had bargained for. But when her husband went AWOL on the family and business, she had no Read More

Perry Mason Had the Right Approach

I used to love watching the TV lawyer, Perry Mason. He solved every case with a combination of smarts, luck, and guile. Each episode concluded with a shocking surprise that revealed the real criminal. Perry won every case. Each episode had a cast of characters from which the guilty party would always emerge. If there was ever a theme to how you figured out who was guilty, you’d look for motive. Which character Read More

You Can’t Sell Your Job, Even if You Own It

“Can we stop in here? I was talking with the owner the other day, and he told me he wanted to talk with you about selling his business.” My wife, Emily (her real name), and I were out for dinner one evening. As we walked into one of our favorite restaurants in Brentwood, she told me she had visited a nearby boutique just a few days earlier. She said she started talking with the proprietor of the boutique, and he told Read More

Three Reasons Most Retiring Business Owners Cannot Sell Their Business, and What You Can Do About It Now

Pew Research Center estimates there are 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day.  There are more than 4 million businesses in America owned by baby boomers, and according to Axial, 65-75% of these businesses will be “on the market” over the next 5 to 10 years.  Can you say glut?   I’ve heard many comments like “trillions of dollars will change hands in the next 10-20 years.”  But I’m not buying that hype for I believe Read More