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Beware the Valuation Mirage

I’m glad I never had to compete against Randy (not his real name). He is one tough bird. Introduced to him by his wealth planner, I am working with Randy to sell his company to a competitor who is in an aggressive consolidation mode. But before we could make much progress, I had to get some bad information out of Randy’s head. In fairness to Randy, it’s common that a business owner comes into the process to sell Read More

Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

Lizzy (not her real name) called me last week to talk through her strategy to sell her business. She told me how she started the business in 2002, then she began to describe its current problems. I quickly figured out there was way more going wrong in the business than going right. But almost on a dime, she stopped and asked, “Ok, so what is a business like mine worth?” I have to admit, her question caught me by Read More

An Empty Fuel Tank is No Way to Start a Long Journey

“For the last ten months, my business has been in a COVID survival mode. I can see light at the end of the tunnel now, but I'm worn out, I’m ready to consider an exit.” Bart (not his real name) called to discuss selling the business he started in 2012. He told me it took a couple of years for the business to gain traction, but once it did he’s been quite profitable, until March 2020. “I went from a monthly Read More

What You Think is Just Luck

Much can be said about how crazy 2020 was. No need to belabor it again here, you’ve heard it all before. But my conversation with Elaine (not her real name) gave rise to a whole new level of crazy about 2020. No, I am not saying Elaine is crazy, quite the opposite. She owns a highly regarded professional services firm near my hometown. We were talking over the holidays about her plan to sell her business in 2021. Read More

Can You Afford to Watch It Go Up in Smoke?

Covid has wrecked his business. Paul (not his real name) owns a company that is a leading player in Nashville's trendy food scene. As everyone knows, the restaurant sector has been decimated by pandemic-driven shutdowns. To raise cash, Paul asked me to help him sell a minority interest he owns in a business in Texas. Paul was hoping the proceeds from selling that minority interest could be reinvested back into his Read More

Balancing Risk and Reward

I met Wayne (not his real name) through an introduction from his financial planner. Wayne owns a successful business in Mississippi that he had taken over after his dad's death nine years ago. Long hours and employee management issues were taking a toll on him and resultantly, his family. In early 2020, he promised his wife he’d consider selling his business. Wayne started the process by asking his Memphis-based Read More

Don’t Expect an Outlier Valuation

Frank and Wanda (not their real names) are avid golfers. Members at one of Nashville’s finest country clubs, they play at least once a week. They even take an annual golf vacation, sometimes to the home of golf in Scotland. I recently met Frank and Wanda via a Zoom call on the recommendation of their wealth planner. They are interested in selling the company they started in the late ‘90s. They told me they decided Read More

One Thoughtless Comment, Say Goodbye to $35 Million

Don (not his real name) was smart, but his errant comment cost him $35 million. In just 12 years, he had built his company to be the largest in his industry. Don was a rock star, and his company’s future was bright. But Don had taken the company as far as he wanted to take it. Though just 44 years old, he was ready to sell the company and realize his life’s ambition to play golf on six continents (did you know, Read More

Avoid No-Man’s Land

A few months ago I watched the movie “1917.” It tells a true story about the audacious heroism of a British soldier during World War I. Beyond being a great story, the filming was incredible. There were times I felt I was the guy in the muddy trenches. There is much to learn from this wonderful movie, not the least of which is war is awful and should be avoided at all costs. But there is another lesson that has Read More

Success in Corporate Life May Not Transfer

“It’s time for me to leave, I can’t take one more HR seminar, help me find a business to buy.”  So started my relationship with Andy (not his real name), a senior-level executive at a publicly traded healthcare company in Nashville.  “I like my corporate job OK, but it’s corporate life I’m not happy with,” he told me over lunch. “I’m ready for a change, I want to be an entrepreneur,” Andy said even before the waiter Read More