Would you rather have one million dollars in the bank today or a chance to have ten million a decade from now? It’s a philosophical question that comes down to the time value of money and your tolerance for risk.
After starting and exiting BabyCenter.com, Mark Selcow built Merced Systems into a profitable business after year one. Ten years later he sold Merced for $192 million, equating to over 3 times top line revenue.
In this episode of Built to Sell Radio you’re going to hear from Erik Huberman, who started Swag-of-the-month, a T-shirt business he quickly scaled from start-up to sale in 18 months.
Huberman considers the exit a success, but during negotiations there was one question the acquirer asked that Huberman wishes he had never answered
Rick Day built Daycom Systems into a $26 million dollar business over a 17-year run. Daycom sold phone systems but the company had a problem: it had become too reliant on one supplier.
Daycom sold phone systems but the company had a problem: it had become too reliant on one supplier in a business where the technology was changing fast. Motivated by the fear of becoming obsolete, Day decided to assemble an advisory board to help him prepare the business to sell. The board helped him to see his business through the eyes of a potential buyer and exposed a number of things that Day needed to fix.
Mark Patey started Prodigy Engineering in 2010 to help companies leverage hybrid engine technology. Four short years later, Patey accepted a multi-million dollar offer to buy the company.
Prodigy Engineering is the latest in Patey’s pattern of starting businesses for the purposes of scaling them and then quickly flipping them. Patey has flipped six companies, and his approach could be considered the counterbalance to the prevailing view that businesses should be built to last a lifetime.
When you get to know Patey, his compacted timelines start to make sense. He – like so many successful entrepreneurs – suffers from ADHD, a blessing and at times a curse. Patey credits his ADHD with much of his success at selling businesses.
Andrew Yang had built Manhattan GMAT into an $11 million business when Kaplan Test Prep, an 800-pound gorilla in the education business, threatened legal action against his company.
Rather than react defensively, Yang sought to build a relationship with Kaplan executives, who would eventually go on to buy Manhattan GMAT for more than 8 times EBITDA.
To see how Yang turned a potential crisis into a clean offer of more than 8 times EBITDA.
Derek Sivers sold CD Baby for $22 million dollars and decided to do something interesting with the money.
As an independent musician, Derek Sivers was blocked from selling his music through mainstream distribution channels, so he decided to start a company that would give his band, and other artists like him, a way to sell their music online.
The business grew as Sivers entered into distribution deals with iTunes and Amazon.
Ten years later, Sivers sold CD Baby for a cool $22 million dollars – and you’ll never believe what he did with the money.
Small service-based businesses are typically not worth very much, but Walter Bergeron made one simple change to his business model that garnered a $10 M acquisition offer.
Bergeron started a small company servicing circuit boards for large food processing plants. It was a “break/fix” business with lumpy demand and cash flow.
Struggling to grow, Bergeron starting offering a membership model where instead of calling when they had a machine to repair, subscribers paid a monthly fee so they could have their circuit boards serviced at any time.
The switch to a membership model transformed the business and Bergeron quickly grew the company to $7 million in annual sales, at which point he was offered $10 million to sell it.
The first time David Phelps sold his dental practice, he ended up in a legal battle that cost him more than $100,000. Phelps eventually got his practice back and was determined to sell it the right way the second time around.
David Phelps started his dental practice in 1986 and built it for 20 years before his daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia. Fighting for his child’s life, Phelps decided to sell his practice in a hurry.
He agreed to provide financing to the new owner to buy the practice, which would end up being a decision he would come to regret.
Bobby Martin had built First Research up to $6.5 million dollars in revenue when he sold the business to a Fortune 500 company for 26 million dollars. But despite getting four times revenue for his business, Martin ended up feeling empty after the sale.
In this week’s episode of Built to Sell Radio, I interview Bobby Martin. Bobby built his business from the ground up and had a great exit. He sold his business to a Fortune 500 company for $26 million dollars – four times his top line revenue at the time.
Martin’s exit was a financial success but life after the sale took a big turn for the worse.
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.