Marriage and Entrepreneurship, a Match Maybe Not Made in Heaven

“I’m not sure my marriage will survive. Sometimes I think I’ll have to choose between the health of my business or the health of my marriage.” Lewis (not his real name) was in a great place, in some respects. About two years ago he sold his company for $25 million (the deal value was publicly-reported), and he launched his next entrepreneurial venture about six months later. So here he was, seemingly on the top of Read More

The Dangerous Second Act

“What’s more dangerous? Not knowing what I don’t know, or thinking I know more than I know?” 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 Read More

The Probable Dysfunction Within a Family Business

I’m so glad it didn’t work out the way I planned. When I resigned from the Walt Disney Company in 1995 to acquire a radio business in Nashville, I had visions of bringing one or all three of my children into the business. The fact they were under the age of seven at the time didn’t dissuade my enthusiasm, I had plans for a “family business.” When I explained to my boss at Disney why I was leaving such a great job, I Read More

Sell Because of a Predicted Recession? Don’t Fall for It.

“A recession is coming, probably 18 to 24 months from now. If you’re thinking about selling your business, you better do it now.” Every business owner in America has heard this dire warning. Have you ever noticed? The “forecast” for a coming recession is always 18 to 24 months away!  You heard this 18- to 24-month forecast in 2011, 2014, 2016 and you’re hearing it now at the end of 2018. “Sell your business now to Read More

Gordon Gekko Had It Wrong, Dull is Good

“These Harvard students think they understand entrepreneurship, let's see if they really do.” These were my final words to Sam (not his real name) as he and I walked into a recent class at Harvard Business School. I had taken Sam to Boston to participate in a Harvard Business School class discussion based on a case study I had written on his company. As we walked into the class Sam knew he was about to get a boatload Read More

A Sad Empty Basket

As my wife Emily (her real name) was pulling the casserole out of the oven, she said, “Can you bring me the Longaberger basket that’s in the cabinet above the refrigerator?” I pulled the basket out thinking the last time I had seen it was about the same time last year. She carefully placed the hot casserole dish into the basket, and out the door we went to attend our Bible study class’ covered-dish Christmas Read More

The SMART Strategic Acquisition

“If I buy his company and combine it with mine, I will control about 45% of the Nashville market. He says he is ready to retire and sell.” Taranda (not her real name) started her company in 2005 and turned the corner of profitability right before the recession of ‘08-’09. As we had hot chocolate one night at Starbucks, Taranda explained why she called me. “I almost gave up when the market went south in 2008 but my Read More

Say What? No License Required?

“Please put that phone away, I don’t want you taking a picture of me doing this.” The locksmith didn’t seem in a good mood. He was using his considerable skills to pick the lock on my neighbor’s back door. My neighbor had left town earlier that morning. Just before he stepped onto a plane for a flight to the west coast, my neighbor realized he had inadvertently locked his back door and the housekeeper couldn’t get in Read More

Why I Might Turn Down a Perfectly Great Engagement (part 2)

Reggie thought I was crazy, at first. He knew I was walking away from a very large fee. I told Reggie I didn’t want to represent him, even though the market value of his company was about $35 million. Well, to be more exact, I told him he shouldn’t sell his company right now, at least not for the $35 million market value. It seems oxymoronic to tell a business owner their business is worth more than market value. Read More

Why I Might Turn Down a Perfectly Good Engagement

“What do you mean you don’t want to sell my business? I thought that’s what you did for a living?” Reggie (not his real name) would have been the ideal client. His business was growing and extremely profitable, EBITDA of $3.57 million in 2017 and forecasted to be $4.25 million this year. Reggie called me a couple months ago after returning from an industry conference in Orlando where he met several private equity Read More