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Selling a Professional Services Business, What I Learned Over Fried Chicken After a Funeral

Little did I know I'd learn something at a funeral to help me appreciate an important principle regarding the successful sale of a professional services business. I had returned to Orlando, where I spent the first half of my business career, to attend the funeral of a dear family member. After the funeral, the church hosted a covered dish dinner for family and friends. While going through the food line, I bumped Read More

The Dangerous Allure of Synergy, per Warren Buffett

“Assemblage of strengths is a huge asset,” Warren (his real name) said in a letter I received last week. He was describing his strategy to grow his business; given his success, I figured I better pay attention. You see, Warren is that Warren, Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. His annual letter to company shareholders never fails to be a great read; no clichés, no lofty aspirational BS, but a deep dive Read More

Danger in the Wild 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

The Dangerous Second Act

Randy (not his real name) and I were sitting in a coffee shop across the street from his office. As soon as we sat down to enjoy our overpriced lattes, I asked Randy why he asked for this meeting. He didn’t beat around the bush, “My exit from the tech company was way beyond my expectations, but I’m getting anxious to get back in the game. Do you know of any businesses that would appeal to me?” I had heard rumors Read More

Beware No-Man’s Land

I watched the movie “1917” the first week it was released in 2019. 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 Read More

That’s 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

Listening … the Easy Growth Strategy

“Growth is an easy concept to understand,” he told me. “All you have to do is sell more of your existing products to new customers, or get new products to sell to your existing customers.” Allen (not his real name) had not gone to business school. He had not gone to college. I’m not sure he ever graduated from high school. But Allen was one of the smartest men I ever met. Though he had no formal business education, Read More

Sometimes You Just Gotta Let It Go

“After 15 years of work, I just wanted to leave something for my kids and grandkids. But it sounds like that isn’t possible.”  Sandra (not her real name) was not in good health. We met at her house because getting to the office was difficult for her. But what she lacked in physical mobility, she more than made up for with mental mobility and attitude. Sandra had a big smile on her face when I Read More

The Business is You and You are the Business

“I’m glad I’m not a doctor, I hate delivering bad news.” I said this to Larry (not his real name) as we met to discuss his interest in selling his business. I was about to deliver some bad news. Larry had been in the business for 15 years. Though it was technically owned by his father, Larry was the main man in making things happen. But when it came time to decide about the future of the business, well, that was left Read More

Don’t Make Your Business a Parking Lot for Your Investor’s Money

“I need $1,500,000 to open a new distribution center in North Carolina. It's a homerun idea, but how much equity will I have to give up raising that much?” Johnny (not his real name) and I have been good friends for seven years. We see each other socially several times a year, and once every 5 or 6 months we sit down to a serious conversation about his growing and vibrant medical supply business. “If I ever sell this Read More