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The Money Trap

Danny (not his real name) is a good friend from my days in business school. He and a partner launched a business in the late 80s.  The partner left about ten years after they started, so Danny has carried 100% of the leadership responsibilities since. I remember him telling me when they launched that they didn't have much of a business plan. But Danny had a sense they were on to a good idea, confident they were Read More

Separation Anxiety

I felt sorry for Amanda (not her real name), and I sort of felt sorry for myself. You see, I’m not used to seeing adults cry in a meeting, and I didn’t know what to say. I had just told Amanda the range of value for which her company could be sold. It wasn’t anywhere near her expectation, “I have worked so hard, this business has been my baby, my life, for 30 years, and that’s all I can get?” Trying to be rational Read More

How Owning Real Estate Might Impact the Value of Your Business

Tommy (not his real name) bought his first franchise 21 years ago. Today, he has eight franchise locations across middle Tennessee. Though his franchiser didn’t like the idea, when he started his first franchise Tommy decided to own the real estate, and he now owns the land and buildings for all eight locations. Tommy and I were recently talking about the strategy and timing to sell his company. During our Read More

How to Treat PPP Loan Forgiveness

Ralph (not his real name) is ready to sell the business he started in 1989. He told me he had planned to retire in 2025, but he then said the kind of thing I have heard from others recently, “I want out now, the Covid slowdown has taken the wind out of my sails.” Ralph gave me a ten-year financial summary. The financial results would support a valuation of $8 million if you looked at results for 2012 through 2018. Read More

Second Generation Complacence

“Oh I just love this house,” Emily (her real name) said as she was checking out. “It’s a shame it's fallen into such disrepair. We have so many memories over the years, but we can’t stay here next time we’re at the beach.” Emily loves going to Seaside, a wonderful community on 30A in the Florida panhandle. Her family has been going there since her children were young. For the past few years, she and her husband Read More

The Value, Yet Discomfort, of Selling to a Competitor

Robert (not his real name) is ready to sell his business. During our recent call to discuss the process, he described himself as “done, done being a business owner.” Robert took over the business from his father 20 years ago. Though he didn’t say it, I got the impression that being a business owner wasn’t Robert’s preferred career choice. I’ve seen this phenomenon before, when someone is essentially forced to take Read More

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

When Your Vision is Just a Blur

“If a buyer has just a bit of vision for this business, they could hit it out of the park.” Paul (not his real name) was asking for my help to sell the business. At the age of 75, you’d assumed he was ready to sell, but he wasn’t the decision-maker. His 92-year-old uncle still owned the business that had been in the family since 1972.  Paul had finally convinced his uncle it was time to sell. You think? Running a 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