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The Gift With Strings (not the good kind)

“I have decided it’s time I step away from my business, and I want to sell it to my employees.” Linda (not her real name) invited me to her plush office to discuss her retirement plan and to show me the awards her professional services company had won over the years. It was impressive, but I was more impressed when she started telling me about her side business, real estate investment. In 2004, Linda and her Read More

How to Handle the Surprise Offer

“Four million dollars is a lot of money, but I'm not sure if that's a reasonable offer. What do I do now?” Jolene (not her real name) had come a long way from a very humble beginning. Five years ago, she was summarily dismissed from the company where she had worked for 16 years. Jolene didn’t see the termination coming so imagine her surprise upon being walked out the door by security immediately after being told her Read More

The Delicious, Yet Dangerous Valuation

Everybody has a friend like Mickey (not his real name), the lovable extrovert who is always working on his next big idea. “My new company has a $5 million valuation now,” Mickey excitedly told me at a recent social event. That valuation surprised me because I knew enough about Mickey’s latest idea to know it wasn’t yet worth anything near $5 million. “How did you get to that valuation?” I asked, to which he Read More

Can You Be Making Too Much Money?

Adam (not his real name) is an easy-going hard charger. Yes, that sounds like an oxymoron, but Adam is the kind of business owner who looks like a duck floating smoothly, but he’s paddling like crazy below the waterline. He is a second-generation owner, he took over a business his dad started and made it much better. But, the pandemic of 2020 hit Adam very hard. His business was not considered “essential,” so he Read More

The Strategic Value of Overpaying ….Say What?

Morgan (not his real name) is going to have a nice exit from his business in about five years. Over the past four years, he has grown his company from annual revenue of $12 million to annual revenue of $35 million. About half of that growth has been organic, the other half has come through the acquisition of supporting businesses. What’s particularly cool about Morgan’s story is how thoughtful and intentional he Read More

Success with No Marketing is a Sign of Weakness

“I’ve owned this business for almost twenty years, and I’ve grown annual revenue to $15 million doing no marketing. Imagine what a buyer could do if they just put focus on customer development.” Winston (not his real name) is 58 years old. He launched his company in the late ‘90s after getting laid off from one of Nashville’s largest hospital companies. Winston is a master relationship builder, I could tell that Read More

Skating on Thin Ice

Bart (not his real name) wants to sell his distribution company in Nashville. As is usually the case with every engagement, the opportunity is a mix of good news and bad news. Bart has a solid business that will be of interest to several companies expanding in his sector.  Bart has agreed to a reasonable valuation, and he is patient knowing the process will take nine to 12 months. He has an experienced key Read More

Running on Empty

“All this business needs to grow is marketing. I just haven’t been able to afford it.” Though I recently heard this comment from Tom (not his real name), I have heard the same comment dozens, or maybe even hundreds, of times. Tom called me for advice on how to sell his Nashville-based business. Though just in his early 60s (which doesn’t seem old to me now…), Tom was tired and ready to retire. The business almost Read More

The Early Exit

I couldn’t figure out why Don (not his real name) wanted to meet. As he was showing me around his office, it was obvious he had a very good thing going. Located in one of Nashville’s most prominent and expensive office buildings, there were cubicles with seemingly happy people busy at work (pre-pandemic). You could feel the energy, the employees liked being there. Once we walked into his well-appointed office, Don Read More

Jim’s Big Dumb Fail

Jim (maybe his real name) left a great corporate job to buy a business. A few of his friends told him he was crazy. The rest of his friends probably thought he was crazy, but just wouldn’t say it. If Jim’s wife thought he was crazy, she didn’t say it. She willingly agreed to move to another state where the business was located. Motivated by a lifelong desire to be an entrepreneur, Jim assumed the business he Read More