John Ratliff started Appletree Answers in a spare bedroom of his house in 1995 and by 2012 had grown it to 650 employees and 24 locations when he decided it was time to sell.
John Ratliff was able to scale Appletree Answers by buying small competitors for around 3 times EBITDA using borrowed money. He quickly went from 1 to 650 employees in less than twenty years while his EBITDA went from nothing to more than $5 million a year. Then one day, he got a call from a strategic acquirer that would change his life forever.
Finding a buyer for Killer Shade was relatively easy. Closing the deal -- and getting paid -- was a whole lot harder.
Mike Campion had built Phoenix-based Killer Shade up to more than $3 million in sales and $700,000 in profits when he decided he wanted out. Killer Shade was in the business of constructing shades and awnings for playgrounds, patios and parking garages. They did large, profitable jobs but city hall paid slowly and Campion was always stressed about cash.
Campion was able to find a buyer and agree to a price, but that’s when the problems started.
Rick Martinez is a military nurse who stumbled into the staffing business by accident and grew his company to 600 employees. Then, when he decided to sell his business, he took a surprisingly zen-like approach to negotiating the deal.
It typically takes a hard-nosed, sharp-elbowed entrepreneur to build a 600-employee company but Rick Martinez built a successful staffing business with no previous entrepreneurial experience. Years later, when he went to sell his company, he took a low-key approach to negotiating the sale. Rick’s story provides a welcome alternative to the often adversarial business of selling a company.
Kevin Sullivan was riding high running one of Seattle’s largest printing companies when the 2008 recession hit. Within months, sales tanked and Sullivan was forced to slash his work force from 185 down to 90. Nine hundred thousand dollars into a million dollar line of credit, the bank called and demanded Sullivan and his two partners re-capitalize the business. That’s when he decided he wanted out.
In this episode of Built to Sell Radio you’ll hear how Sullivan and his team pulled the business out of the ditch and eventually got it back to profitability, which is when he and his partners decided to sell. His partners were happy to just get their names off the debt the business was carrying but Sullivan thought they could do much better, He turned down the 2 - 3 times earnings he was offered by financial buyers in search of an offer closer to six times…in the end - he was able to do even better.
Selling internally is not the first thing that comes to mind when an entrepreneur thinks about an exit strategy, but it could be the best fit. After all, who knows your business better than someone who is a part of it? In this episode of Built To Sell Radio, you’ll hear how Heather Osgood smoothly exited her business along with some ups and downs while selling her business to a partner.
In this episode of Built to Sell Radio, you’ll hear how Jason Swenk built up his digital advertising agency from nothing to thirteen million dollars in sales before he sold it to a strategic acquirer in 2012. Swenk then went to work for the new owner — but the new owner’s business got acquired nine months later by an even larger firm. Swenk found himself two levels away from power and struggled to hit his earn out. What follows is a success story with a cautionary tale about the dangers of agreeing to an earn out as part of the sale of your business.
At the age of 27, Aaron Walker sold his business to a Fortune 500 company. He thought the money would make him happy, but life after selling was a lot harder than he thought. In this episode of Built to Sell Radio, Aaron Walker shares his story of rags to riches to depression and how he climbed back out. He also provides three tools you can use to help visualize your life after selling so you can avoid the trap that many cashed out entrepreneurs fall into.
In this episode of Built To Sell Radio, you’ll hear an interview with Jeff Davis, who sold his business Legal Artworks back in October 2014. Learn how Jeff got to the point of only going into the office once a week, how he avoided the ‘key man discount,’ and why he didn’t sell his business to the highest bidder.
In this episode of Built to Sell Radio, you’ll hear the lessons Bo Burlingham has learned after interviewing hundreds of entrepreneurs regarding their business exit experiences. Some good, some bad. You probably know Bo because he is the editor-at-large of Inc. Magazine. If you are an entrepreneur you've no doubt seen his most famous book, Small Giants: Companies That Choose To Be Great Instead of Big, which to me, is one of the best books ever written on entrepreneurship. His latest book, Finish Big, is about how you exit a business on top. Bo is a friend, an amazing writer, and interviewer.
Along with her father and brother, Laura Coe grew Litholink into a $10 million business with 50 employees. Then one day, a multi-billion-dollar business called.
After building his business for twenty years, Stuart Crane sold it for $43M, which includes an extra million he got by using this one simple technique.
Built to Sell Radio is a weekly podcast for business owners. Each week, we ask a recently cashed out entrepreneur why they decided to sell, what they did right and what mistakes they made through the process of exiting their business. Built to Sell Radio is the ultimate insider's guide to approaching the most important financial transaction of your life.