Think Like a Fireman

“I was excited when I got the letter, so I called him. I should have known better.” Linda (not her real name) was telling me a story I had heard before, actually many times before. Business owners are inundated with letters from business brokers claiming they have a client who has identified the owner’s business and would like to talk with him/her about buying it. Though true on rare occasion, more times than not, Read More

Never Use a Business Broker

“I would never use a business broker, even if I was giving my business away.” Harold (not his real name) did not know I was a business broker. I met him going through the buffet line at a recent civic club meeting in Nashville. Once we got our food, we sat down to eat. We had about 15 minutes to chat before the program was scheduled to start. The discussion eventually turned to that obvious question, “So, tell me, Read More

The Work ‘Till You Die Retirement Plan

“I want to sell my business, I need to sell my business. Please help me sell my business.” Louisa (not her real name) reminded me of my mom. She was sweet, soft-spoken and loved to talk about her grandchildren. But unlike my mom, who never worked outside the home, Louisa was a business owner. Though 71 years old, Louisa was going to the office almost every day. However, her regular office hours were not driven by a Read More

The Strategic Buyer is the Seller’s Friend

“I just got a shocking offer for my company and I need to respond quickly. Can you come over today?”  I had met Lexi (not her real name) a few years earlier. Her father and I served together on a board at church, and I had admired from a distance the success of his business. Lexi had been in charge of the business since her father passed away after a sudden diagnosis of stomach cancer three years earlier. I spoke Read More

Living Large on a Line of Credit

“We make a lot of money, but we also spend a lot of money.” Josh (not his real name) was facing an existential crisis in his business. Though his company generated annual revenue of about $8 million, Josh could never turn the corner of making much money. I told Josh I’d study his financials to see if I could help him figure out his problem. He was hoping to sell the business within the next two years. But, if we Read More

Momma, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be 50/50 Partners

“Daddy thought if I was a business partner with my brother, it would keep us close. But glory be, just the opposite has happened. Let’s just say I have no plans to go to his house for Thanksgiving.” Wanda (not her real name) was mad and hurt. Just before her Dad passed away in 2014, he willed 50/50 interest in his successful business to her and her brother, Max (not his real name). Wanda had worked in the business Read More

Stumbling as You Run for the Exit

“I haven’t had a real vacation since my son graduated from the military academy. That was a proud day for his Mom and me, but I worried the whole week I was gone.” I have known Fred (not his real name) for about forty years, we went to law school together. I knew he had a successful law practice, but I didn’t know how successful until he asked me to evaluate his financials and determine a selling price once he Read More

Good Steak, but News That’s Hard to Swallow

I could tell Bart (not his real name) was tired. He said he could not see himself still at work when the new Governor is inaugurated early next year. Bart is a lobbyist for several large corporate clients that are affected by laws and regulations going through Tennessee’s legislative assemblies. He has been a fixture in the hallways of the State Capitol for almost 30 years, loved and respected by almost everyone on Read More

When Family Legacy is a Boat Anchor to Business Decision Making

She could barely hold back the tears. Wanda (not her real name) was telling me how her grandfather started the business after World War II. Her dad took it over in 1974 when her grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Wanda started in 2002, and her dad poured his heart and soul into training her to take over the company. Unfortunately, he had a rare heart disease and died in 2007. “I wasn’t ready to take 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