The ESOP Fable

“I have worked hard to build this business, but it’s time I sell it while I’m healthy enough to enjoy life a little.” Raymond (not his real name) was as down-home a guy as you can imagine. But behind his slow draw was one really smart business owner. Raymond’s sensitivity to customers seemed to be the lynchpin of his success. “Heck, I didn’t know any better, so I decided I’d just follow what my customers wanted. I Read More

Compensation Dollars vs Investment Dollars

I didn’t know whether to laugh or be insulted. While I love it when a potential client does their homework, there is nothing more frustrating than when they have an advisor who is in over their head. I recently had dinner with a business owner interested in retaining me to sell his business. His business was smaller than I normally handle, but I met with him in response to a request from a mutual friend. When I Read More

Marriage and Entrepreneurship, a Match Maybe Not Made in Heaven

“I’m not sure my marriage will survive. Sometimes I think I’ll have to choose between the health of my business or the health of my marriage.” Lewis (not his real name) was in a great place, in some respects. About two years ago he sold his company for $25 million (the deal value was publicly-reported), and he launched his next entrepreneurial venture about six months later. So here he was, seemingly on the top of Read More

The Dangerous Second Act

“What’s more dangerous? Not knowing what I don’t know, or thinking I know more than I know?” Randy (not his real name) and I were sitting in a coffee shop across the street from his office. As soon as we sat down to enjoy our overpriced lattes, I asked Randy why he asked for this meeting. He didn’t beat around the bush, “My exit from the tech company was way beyond my expectations, but I’m getting anxious to get Read More

The Probable Dysfunction Within a Family Business

I’m so glad it didn’t work out the way I planned. When I resigned from the Walt Disney Company in 1995 to acquire a radio business in Nashville, I had visions of bringing one or all three of my children into the business. The fact they were under the age of seven at the time didn’t dissuade my enthusiasm, I had plans for a “family business.” When I explained to my boss at Disney why I was leaving such a great job, I Read More

Sell Because of a Predicted Recession? Don’t Fall for It.

“A recession is coming, probably 18 to 24 months from now. If you’re thinking about selling your business, you better do it now.” Every business owner in America has heard this dire warning. Have you ever noticed? The “forecast” for a coming recession is always 18 to 24 months away!  You heard this 18- to 24-month forecast in 2011, 2014, 2016 and you’re hearing it now at the end of 2018. “Sell your business now to Read More

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