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

Buyer Beware, the Falling Knife

“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 had called me for advice on how to sell his Nashville-based business. He was in his early 60s, not the type who looked like he was ready to retire. But Tom was tired. The business almost Read More

Counting Your Cash is Not Accounting

“So, you wanna see my accounting system? Well then, here you go!” Larry (not his real name) opened a drawer on the left side of his desk and it was loaded with cash, piles of green bills. “The only accounting system I need is right here. I count it every night.” Larry’s son had called me a few weeks earlier to help he and his Dad sell their business. Larry was dealing with a recurrence of pancreatic cancer, and Read More

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