The Longsufferring CFO

“I’ve been his CFO for ten years. I’m 55 years old, if I don’t see his plan for transition in the next few months, I’ll have to go find another job. Gosh, for all I’ve put into this company and the good people here, that’s the last thing I want to do. But I might not have a choice. Given the pace we’re on, I don’t see us making it much longer.” David (not his real name) has been CFO of the company for ten years Read More

The Business Owner’s 3:00AM Wake-Up Call

Every four years Americans go to the polls to elect a president. There is one issue that seems to come up during every election, and that is how each candidate would handle the “3:00AM wake-up call.” The question centers on how the candidate would handle a crisis so severe that they’d need to be awakened in the dead of night. Truth be told, many people make their decision for whom to vote based on how they feel about Read More

Relying on the Irrational Decision

“Why is finding a business to buy so hard? I’ve been looking for eight months, talking to brokers, bankers, anybody who might have a lead. All I’m seeing are problem businesses.” Elizabeth (not her real name) told me she was ready to leave her corporate job with one of Nashville’s most prestigious large companies. “I am well paid and doing the kind of work I went to school for, but ten years in to it, I’m just Read More

The Thin Line Between Warm & Fuzzy and Hot & Messy

“My partner and I have grown apart. He isn’t the same fantastic guy he was when I offered him a full partnership in 2007. He plays favorites with the employees, he comes and goes as he pleases. His arrogance is creating a toxic environment. If we don’t separate soon, it will kill our business. Can you help?” Archie (not his real name) asked me to meet him and his wife at their home to assure full confidence in the Read More

Goodbye to Goodwill

“Back in the day, our EBITDA was about one million a year, and we had blue-chip clients. But a couple of years ago, we lost some key clients and it killed our cash flow. We still have a great reputation, so a buyer could take the goodwill we’ve built and really grow with it.” Norm (not his real name) called me on the advice of his personal financial planner who I knew through the Nashville chapter of the Exit Read More

How Selling a Business is Like Flying a Skywriting Biplane

“We have two lines of business, one has been making money for fourteen years, the other has been losing money since we started it three years ago. We’re certain this new line will be profitable next year, but we want to sell the business this year. Should we jettison the money-losing line now, or will a buyer see that we are close to turning the corner as a good thing?” Carl (not his real name) brought his Read More

Things Can Go Wrong in the Wild West

“I researched these guys before the first call. They seemed legit, and I could tell they weren’t on a fishing expedition. They knew a ton about my industry, the players, and opportunities. You think they might be a real buyer for my company?” I felt sorry for Angie. She looked tired, and running this company was nothing she had bargained for. But when her husband went AWOL on the family and business, she had no Read More

Perry Mason Had the Right Approach

I used to love watching the TV lawyer, Perry Mason. He solved every case with a combination of smarts, luck, and guile. Each episode concluded with a shocking surprise that revealed the real criminal. Perry won every case. Each episode had a cast of characters from which the guilty party would always emerge. If there was ever a theme to how you figured out who was guilty, you’d look for motive. Which character Read More

You Can’t Sell Your Job, Even if You Own It

“Can we stop in here? I was talking with the owner the other day, and he told me he wanted to talk with you about selling his business.” My wife, Emily (her real name), and I were out for dinner one evening. As we walked into one of our favorite restaurants in Brentwood, she told me she had visited a nearby boutique just a few days earlier. She said she started talking with the proprietor of the boutique, and he told Read More

Follow the Money, Sometimes Bad Advice

“At this pace, we’ll double revenue in four years. I’m just not sure I can maintain this pace.” Katie (not her real name) owns a very successful services company. She serves a niche that is fueling fast growth, and every new dollar of revenue is more profitable than the last. She has the essence of what’s called a scalable business. In her mid-40s, Katie seems nowhere near the age to slow down, much less retire. Read More