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

My Company, My Prison

She thought her divorce would free her up to run the company the way she wanted. Marianna (not her real name) and her former husband had been business partners for eight years. They had a great working relationship when the company was launched, but the company’s success seemed to create a wall between them. If she said zig, he wanted to zag. I met Marianna through a Nashville-based service organization. Ten Read More

Selling Your Business, Keep the Vultures Away

“Hey honey, come look at this, this is weird.” My wife, Emily (her real name), was looking out toward our backyard from the kitchen window. “This is unbelievable, kinda spooky,” she said. I looked out to see vultures in my backyard. Big, black, scary-looking creatures. The fact that it was dusk made the scene even more ominous. I counted 21, there may have been more. From my vantage point, it looked like they were Read More

Three Reasons Most Retiring Business Owners Cannot Sell Their Business, and What You Can Do About It Now

Pew Research Center estimates there are 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day.  There are more than 4 million businesses in America owned by baby boomers, and according to Axial, 65-75% of these businesses will be “on the market” over the next 5 to 10 years.  Can you say glut?   I’ve heard many comments like “trillions of dollars will change hands in the next 10-20 years.”  But I’m not buying that hype for I believe Read More

Four Warning Signs You Aren’t Really Interested in Buying a Business

A good business intermediary will get frequent calls from people interested in buying a business.  We love these calls; after all, since we get paid when someone buys a business, access to buyers is a good thing. Or maybe I should say, should be a good thing. It’s easy to over-invest (read: waste) time and energy with someone who expresses interest in buying a business because 98 times out of a 100 (or maybe 99 Read More

Most retiring business owners cannot sell their business

Pew Research Center estimates there are 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day.  There are more than 4 million businesses in America owned by baby boomers, and according to Axial, 65-75% of these businesses will be “on the market” over the next 5 to 10 years.  Can you say glut?   I’ve heard many comments like “trillions of dollars will change hands in the next 10-20 years.”  But I’m not buying that hype for I believe Read More

Gordon Gekko Had It Wrong, Dull is Good

“These Harvard students think they understand entrepreneurship, let's see if they really do.” These were my final words to Sam (not his real name) as he and I walked into a recent class at Harvard Business School. I had taken Sam to Boston to participate in a Harvard Business School class discussion based on a case study I had written on his company. As we walked into the class Sam knew he was about to get a boatload 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

Negotiated Sale or Auction?

“It is a match made in heaven. I’ve known for years they’d want to buy my company eventually. Should I negotiate just with them or take my company to market and try to bring in other bidders, you know, get an auction going?” Tom (not his real name) was ready to sell his company. Though having just celebrated his 73rd birthday, Tom was still going strong. The company he founded in 1982 was generating strong cash flow, 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