Private Equity, What Kind of Offers Are in Those Expensive Briefcases?

The room was full of men and women wearing expensive suits, carrying brand-name leather briefcases and purses. You could land from Mars and guess you were at a conference of private equity professionals. I was invited, along with about fifty other investment bankers/business brokers, to meet with dozens of private equity firms from around the country to brainstorm and network over pending and future deals. Over the Read More

It’s Just an LOI, Let’s Sign It and Move On

“Hell’s bells, Jim, it’s just a non-binding LOI, please get him to sign it and let’s get on with this thing.” Bart (not his real name) was unhappy with me. My first clue was this call came in at 6:30am. “You told me our LOI was going to be signed three days ago, what’s the hold-up? I have bankers and investors waiting to hear.” I explained to Bart that my client liked the deal he had on the table and that I was Read More

Don’t Be So Smart That You Kill the Goose That Lays Your Golden Eggs

I’ve never seen a strategy so brilliantly described. Bret (not his real name) was showing me a colorful graphic of how his business worked. The graphic showed six entities revolving around the core business he started about 20 years ago. “Yeah, I’m pretty proud of how it looks,” Bret said to me. “Everybody I show it to immediately gets what I do. You think I can get a 10X deal on my company?” As he nears 60, Bret Read More

Potential is a Terrible Way to Describe a Business You Want to Sell

Though happily married for almost 33 years, I have some memories of my experiences dating. I once had a friend say “I have somebody you should meet” to which I said, “well, tell me about her.” The response was “she has potential.” I politely declined. Potential is a terrible word to use when describing a potential date, and it’s a terrible word to describe why someone should buy your business. When a business Read More

Quasi-Shameless, Yet Highly Relevant Plug

“You are dead wrong if you think I’m gonna be laying in a hospital bed two months after I retire. Hell, I’m not gonna sell or retire.” Two months ago, John (not his real name) retained me to sell his electronics distribution business. He was one of those instinctively-good business owners, he just seemed to do a lot of things right.  Look no further than his financial statement for proof, annual revenue of $8 million Read More

Don’t Wait for the Vultures to Start Hovering

“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

The Non-Acquisition Acquisition

“I’ve found a company in Miami, they are a perfect fit for what we do and they are ready to sell, can you help us put the deal together?” So began my the phone call with Susan (not her real name). Just a few years after finishing graduate school, Susan started a market research firm, and over the past ten years has grown it into a national leader for her specialty, biomedical research. Her decision in 2005 to launch Read More

Peas, broccoli and partnerships …. things I really hate.

“We’ve been in business together for 23 years, and now I want to sell but he doesn’t have the money to buy my share, and he’s not ready to exit. What do I do?” I gave Marvin (not his real name) a simple but un-welcomed answer, “There’s little you can do, just wait.” Of course, lawyers will point out the partnership agreement should have included a buy-sell agreement. But here’s the reality, many partners don’t Read More

When Buying a Good Business, Don’t be Good Deal Focused

A few years ago I was retained to sell a profitable business in Kentucky. The owner was ready to retire, but fully committed to helping the buyer make a smooth transition. The 50-year-old business had a positive reputation in the community, a loyal customer base, and a great location. I located a prospective buyer through a referral from a banker. Once I showed this prospect my client's business, he was soon Read More

Selling a Business When It’s All in the Family, Not a Great Show

When Bob (not his real name) called me, I could tell he was tired. He wanted to sell his family business, but he didn’t know how to find the right buyer and make sure he got a fair value for his life’s work. Bob started his business in 1981 and built it into a thriving niche manufacturer of plumbing components. But at age 74, Bob was ready to sell his business and spend more time with his ailing wife. The business Read More