We did it! We sold our business to private equity!
Let’s go back in time. I was a co-founder who was selling a tech business in a big PE rollup. And we did it all wrong…
Cory, John and I were early disruptors in the audiobook industry. In 2003, we had an audiobook download ecommerce platform that was bespoke, and second only to Audible. We grew the business to over 750,000 users, and published thousands of audiobooks. We created a distribution network to thousands of retailers and hundreds of etailers. We nailed it and wanted to take an exit. But….
We didn’t have a plan.
We didn’t know what we didn’t know. Our books were not GAAP. Our EBITDA was the number that drove the value, and it was probably $1 million under the real value. At 6x, that’s $6 million left on the table. And, we sold at a multiple that was too low. 6x was under market. There’s some more millions. Then, we didn’t ask for any rollover equity, so when the business was sold less than 3 years later for over $20 million, we didn’t get to participate.
I’ve been through multiple exits and each time, I learn something new. And, each time, I leave something else on the table…a cost for the learning.
I’ve had the privilege of learning from others, which is far better, I’m sure you would agree. Learning how to avoid leaving money on the table is much easier when I don’t actually leave it on the table.
Over the years, I’ve become aware of some patterns that repeat themselves. I’m guilty of transgressing these, but I’m also the beneficiary of these mistakes when I buy a business.
Most business owners are stuck in the business. They’ve read books like the E-Myth, and Traction, but can’t seem to find their way out of the daily grind.
Many owners chase shiny objects. Big ideas are okay, but the foundations of most successful businesses are boring. Most of the stories that make it into the media are rags-to-riches businesses that came from a wild idea. Most of those ventures don’t make it. Learn how others have built businesses from boring ideas, and often do what they learned at a job before they learned enough to launch a business.
Second, once you own a business, there’s a lot of potential ways for that business to fail, and a few solid keys to successfully optimizing your business. Those keys to success can be hard learned, or they can come easy. The easy button means you need to be open to learning from others who have been where you are, rather than you trying to reinventing the wheel. You do that by listening and learning from podcasts like this, and also by finding the right best practice groups, professional and trade organizations, trade shows, networking events, and collaboration which I will share with you.
Third, once you optimize your business, it’s smart to plan for your eventual sale. You want to have an exit plan…an approach to your business that makes it ready to sell for the best possible price at any given time. What if you currently don’t intend to sell your business? It is still imperative that you be ready for an eventual sale/exit even if you aren’t interested in selling right now. This way YOU receive the benefit of a business that’s running smoothly, growing in success and producing a profit.
I’m a student of business, and as I learn, I try to share what I’ve learned. My most recent book is called The King’s Flyswatter, a parable about entrepreneurship that is targeted at those who are at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey. But, for any seasoned operators, it’s still a fun book and a reminder of what really matters.
<a target=”_blank” href=”https://www.amazon.com/Kings-Flyswatter-Parable-Moving-Work/dp/1732287252?&_encoding=UTF8&tag=drobinsonx-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=be8c5baf1adf1a5efca092d3e7fae9fd&camp=1789&creative=9325″>The King’s Flyswatter</a>
My book Gig Out is a guide to side gigs. With about 100 business ideas in the book, the most useful part of the book is the method for ensuring that you never accidentally start a real business when you are only trying to start a side gig.
<a target=”_blank” href=”https://www.amazon.com/Gig-Out-ULTIMATE-Finding-Economy-ebook/dp/B09YPB3YVD?&_encoding=UTF8&tag=drobinsonx-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=f8c89c116153a4d80d9b33412e94f9c5&camp=1789&creative=9325″>Gig Out</a>
The book Opt Out is a lifestyle methodology that shows how to stop chasing money and start leveraging resources that are right under your nose to have the life you want, even before you get that big exit.
<a target=”_blank” href=”https://www.amazon.com/OPT-OUT-Rethink-success-Reinvent-ebook/dp/B07CZ9T8JG?&_encoding=UTF8&tag=drobinsonx-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=d2163f47d24e281064f0b740307241b5&camp=1789&creative=9325″>Opt Out</a>
I’ve seen a lot of folks trying to sell courses as a means of supporting their podcast. I have over a dozen courses on Linkedin Learning. And, guess what? They are free if you have a premium membership. They are also included if you work at a company that has a corporate subscription. What if you don’t have either? Use your local public library and get access to my Linkedin Learning course for free.
You. Your Exit Plan. Not Mine.
Whether you are running an HVAC business, a property management company, a landscape company, I can assure you that the businesses can create wealth for you while you run them, and can sell for millions of dollars when you are ready for YOUR exit.
Listen to the podcast and engage in a discussion about the entrepreneurshit…that’s the stuff that gets in the way and distracts us from achieving our goals.
Why me? I’m no guru. Think of me as the Emcee, master of ceremonies trying to showcase the stories that tie us together, and looking for teachable moments that can save all of us from the mistakes we don’t know that we don’t know.
This is where the fun begins. We want you to join the Opt Out movement. We want to help you live the Opt Out Life.
And the easiest way to take a baby step in the right direction is to get on our email list.
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start a conversation with me…and those around me, like Nate and Cory, and so many others who can show you the way to your best exit.
We’ll talk to you soon!