After 9/11, I was determined to sell my tech company. I was burnt out from extensive traveling, constant negotiations with international customers and dealing with cash flow and personnel issues. I also realized I would need millions of dollars to retool and upgrade our product line.
At that time, I just didn’t have the drive or heart to continue to invest and fight the battle. Borrowing a bunch of money seemed like a massive risk. And I was unhealthy in so many ways. Ultimately, I realized I was not aligned with my business or it’s industry and I wanted to find a way out of it.
My lawyer and I worked out an exit strategy, thinking my employees, customers and partners would be fine. I was so clever. But the plan and the people I trusted failed to deliver and my exit wasn’t so successful. I learned a valuable and painful lesson about the best way to sell a business—I now know it is all about timing and alignment:
Today, I help entrepreneurs plan their exit in a much more strategic, thoughtful and healthy way. I evaluate the readiness of the business, and its people, product and owners.
Almost any profitable businesses can be sold if the owners have an entrepreneurial mindset and a customized personal and business exit strategy. The goal is to maximize the sales price of the business and the personal readiness of the owner.
Your “why” for the exit needs to align with the best way for you to exit. According to The Exit Planning Institute, over 75% of owners regret how they approached their exit. The reason is the same thing that happened to me: I sold a valuable asset at the wrong time to the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Avoid my mistake and turn your business into a super-valuable entity that gives you multiple options for operating and exiting it. I always tell my clients, “develop a world-class business and you will have all of the options you want.”
There are many possible ways (and hybrid options) to exit. Here are a few basic ways:
Even if you are years away from selling your business, the time to start planning is now. I offer a free business assessment through the Value Builder System that provides a report of the current value of your business and scores you on the eight most important factors to maximize your sale and reduce your risk.