4 Drivers Of A Satisfying Exit
Built To Sell Radio speaks to many different business owners with unique stories. Some share cautionary tales of the mistakes they still dwell on today; others share a great story about what they believe was (and will remain as) the best day of their life.
But beyond the different stories, there is one consistent theme across every single interview: everyone striving for a happy (and lucrative) exit. How they get there is a different story.
Have you considered what a happy exit looks like for you? There are four key drivers to consider that – if left unseen – could leave you with regret.
Here’s a highlight of those 4 drivers, along with examples from some of the top Built To Sell Radio episodes:
Most owners get pushed out of their business, but the happiest exits occur when an owner has an equal or greater number of pull factors.
Shaun Oshman is the founder of iSupportU, a Colorado-based IT support company. He decided he wanted to lead a life slightly less ordinary. He was 39 and his company was generating a couple of million dollars of revenue when he decided that by the age of 40, he wanted to be living on a boat sailing around the world.
Oshman’s company garnered an offer of 2-3 times Sellers Discretionary Earnings (SDE). A fair, but far from fantastic multiple for his business. So why is Oshman so happy? Because he had a vision for the future that he was excited about and 2-3 times SDE allowed him to make that dream a reality.
Structuring Flexibility describes an owner’s willingness to consider multiple exit scenarios. A lot of founders make the mistake of approaching their exit with a rigid vision of how they see their exit.
Stephanie Breedlove built her payroll company by focusing on parents who wanted to pay their nannies. She built her business to $9 million in annual revenue when she started acquisition discussions with Care.com. Breedlove originally wanted an all cash offer but as she kept negotiating, she became more open to the idea of accepting part of her proceeds in shares – she ended up selling her $9 million business for $54 million – part of which was paid in Care.com stock. Had Stephanie clung rigidly to only one option for selling, she may never have received such a lucrative payday.
Personal Detachment is the degree to which your ego is dependent on the status of being an owner of your company. Factors here can lead to an owner becoming unwilling or unable to let go.
Steve Murch has had four exits including his first and most spectacular, the sale of VacationSpot.com to Expedia for $87 million. Since then, Murch has gone on to sell four other businesses including most recently, the sale of his recipe app BigOven (which enjoyed 13 million downloads and 4 million subscribers) to the grocery giant, Aisle Ahead Inc.
Far from being a workaholic, as Murch described during our interview, he has built an amazing life for himself away from his businesses: he’s a cyclist, skier, involved father and the head chef in his house (which is how he came up with the idea for BigOven in the first place!).
Team Involvement is the ability to be proactive about how you want to treat your team as part of the exit process. This is a deeply personal issue for founders, some of whom would prefer not to tell employees for fear of word getting out among competitors.
Bobby Martin found this out the hard way when he sold his company, First Research to D&B for $26 million. The sale was a financial success for Bobby and his co-founder but emotionally it was crushing. He had started First Research with friends and promoted a collegial atmosphere through First Research’s growth. When negotiations with D&B heated up, he felt guilty not to be able to tell his long-standing employees — many of whom were his closest friends. After the sale, Martin went through a bout of depression and he described during our interview and in his bestselling book The Hockey Stick Principles, spent a year in clinical therapy getting over the loss he felt from selling out.