The Good News and Bad News of Selling Your Business in a Post-Corona World.
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Success with No Marketing is a Sign of Weakness

“I’ve owned this business for almost twenty years, and I’ve grown annual revenue to $15 million doing no marketing. Imagine what a buyer could do if they just put focus on customer development.” Winston (not his real name) is 58 years old. He launched his company in the late ‘90s after getting laid off from one of Nashville’s largest hospital companies. Winston is a master relationship builder, I could tell that Read More

Skating on Thin Ice

Bart (not his real name) wants to sell his distribution company in Nashville. As is usually the case with every engagement, the opportunity is a mix of good news and bad news. Bart has a solid business that will be of interest to several companies expanding in his sector.  Bart has agreed to a reasonable valuation, and he is patient knowing the process will take nine to 12 months. He has an experienced key Read More

Running on Empty

“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 called me for advice on how to sell his Nashville-based business. Though just in his early 60s (which doesn’t seem old to me now…), Tom was tired and ready to retire. The business almost Read More

The Early Exit

I couldn’t figure out why Don (not his real name) wanted to meet. As he was showing me around his office, it was obvious he had a very good thing going. Located in one of Nashville’s most prominent and expensive office buildings, there were cubicles with seemingly happy people busy at work (pre-pandemic). You could feel the energy, the employees liked being there. Once we walked into his well-appointed office, Don Read More

Jim’s Big Dumb Fail

Jim (maybe his real name) left a great corporate job to buy a business. A few of his friends told him he was crazy. The rest of his friends probably thought he was crazy, but just wouldn’t say it. If Jim’s wife thought he was crazy, she didn’t say it. She willingly agreed to move to another state where the business was located. Motivated by a lifelong desire to be an entrepreneur, Jim assumed the business he Read More

No Michael Scotts in a Small Business

Matt (not his real name) wants to buy a business. He is 45 years old and has spent the past twelve years in an executive position with a locally prominent company. Matt has the kind of job and title most people would love to have by the time they reach their mid-40s. But Matt told me he’s ready to chuck corporate life and “become my own boss.” Perhaps you’ve read prior stories I’ve written that sound like Matt’s. Read More

Let the Kids Run It and Send Me a Check

Rhonda (not her real name) is considering selling the business she and her husband started in 1990. After he passed away in 1997, Rhonda assumed full control and hasn’t looked back. Well, she did remarry, but that isn’t germane to this story. Rhonda’s financial advisor asked me to help her evaluate her options. Prior to our meeting, I asked Rhonda for several years of financial history. Although financial data Read More

Valuation Math Can Lead You Astray

I met Ryan (not his real name) about six years ago. He told me then he wanted to sell his manufacturing business in two years when he turned 50. But his company was not likely to generate appreciable exit value. Though driving annual revenue consistently above $10 million, Ryan could never seem to get profit margins above 5%. Since we first met, Ryan has called me every 12 months or so to check in on what was Read More

Beware the Valuation Mirage

I’m glad I never had to compete against Randy (not his real name). He is one tough bird. Introduced to him by his wealth planner, I am working with Randy to sell his company to a competitor who is in an aggressive consolidation mode. But before we could make much progress, I had to get some bad information out of Randy’s head. In fairness to Randy, it’s common that a business owner comes into the process to sell Read More

Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

Lizzy (not her real name) called me last week to talk through her strategy to sell her business. She told me how she started the business in 2002, then she began to describe its current problems. I quickly figured out there was way more going wrong in the business than going right. But almost on a dime, she stopped and asked, “Ok, so what is a business like mine worth?” I have to admit, her question caught me by Read More