Momma Was Right, Do Your Homework Before the Test

“If I don’t handle this right, it could cost me millions and leave me bored to tears. Can you help?” I get a question like this from a business owner about once a month. The types of businesses are different, but the situation is the same...the owner has a successful business and they have been approached by a credible third party with an unsolicited, though compelling, offer to sell their company. The second Read More

What the LOI Is, and Isn’t

“Ty Cobb was the leading batter in the history of baseball, and he only got on base about one-third of the time. I guess I shouldn't feel so bad.” Reggie (not his real name) may not have felt so bad, but I sure did. In late 2018, he retained me to sell his company. We identified several private equity (PE) firms that had made recent investments in Reggie’s industry, and within a couple of months, we started to Read More

Watch Out for that Pig-in-a-Poke Valuation

“Jim, I decided to go with the other firm. They say they can get more for my company than you think it’s worth.” This recent comment from Tracy (not her real name) was the first time in ten years I have lost an engagement because the business owner was picking another intermediary. It seems the other broker convinced Tracy that he could get her a higher price for her company. I had told Tracy the business could Read More

The Longsufferring CFO

“I’ve been his CFO for ten years. I’m 55 years old, if I don’t see his plan for transition in the next few months, I’ll have to go find another job. Gosh, for all I’ve put into this company and the good people here, that’s the last thing I want to do. But I might not have a choice. Given the pace we’re on, I don’t see us making it much longer.” David (not his real name) has been CFO of the company for ten years Read More

The Business Owner’s 3:00AM Wake-Up Call

Every four years Americans go to the polls to elect a president. There is one issue that seems to come up during every election, and that is how each candidate would handle the “3:00AM wake-up call.” The question centers on how the candidate would handle a crisis so severe that they’d need to be awakened in the dead of night. Truth be told, many people make their decision for whom to vote based on how they feel about Read More

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