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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

An Empty Fuel Tank is No Way to Start a Long Journey

“For the last ten months, my business has been in a COVID survival mode. I can see light at the end of the tunnel now, but I'm worn out, I’m ready to consider an exit.” Bart (not his real name) called to discuss selling the business he started in 2012. He told me it took a couple of years for the business to gain traction, but once it did he’s been quite profitable, until March 2020. “I went from a monthly Read More

What You Think is Just Luck

Much can be said about how crazy 2020 was. No need to belabor it again here, you’ve heard it all before. But my conversation with Elaine (not her real name) gave rise to a whole new level of crazy about 2020. No, I am not saying Elaine is crazy, quite the opposite. She owns a highly regarded professional services firm near my hometown. We were talking over the holidays about her plan to sell her business in 2021. Read More

Can You Afford to Watch It Go Up in Smoke?

Covid has wrecked his business. Paul (not his real name) owns a company that is a leading player in Nashville's trendy food scene. As everyone knows, the restaurant sector has been decimated by pandemic-driven shutdowns. To raise cash, Paul asked me to help him sell a minority interest he owns in a business in Texas. Paul was hoping the proceeds from selling that minority interest could be reinvested back into his Read More

Balancing Risk and Reward

I met Wayne (not his real name) through an introduction from his financial planner. Wayne owns a successful business in Mississippi that he had taken over after his dad's death nine years ago. Long hours and employee management issues were taking a toll on him and resultantly, his family. In early 2020, he promised his wife he’d consider selling his business. Wayne started the process by asking his Memphis-based Read More