The Nuts And Bolts Of Selling A Service Business with Lien De Pau

In this episode of The Widest Net Podcast, Pam is joined by Lien De Pau, a seasoned serial entrepreneur known for her advocacy of freedompreneurship. She has demonstrated proficiency in launching, scaling, and orchestrating seamless exits for service-based businesses through her brainchild, The Big Exit. Her expertise lies in preparing service-based businesses for lucrative exits, making her a pivotal resource for business owners seeking to maximize their business value.

Does trying to sell your service-based business feel like an uphill battle? It’s time to take control and learn the proven methods for maximizing your business value and attracting the right buyer. Don’t let the pain of uncertainty and wasted time continue; it’s time to take action and achieve the lucrative business exit you deserve.

 

Here’s what you can expect from this episode: 

  • How to maximize business value for a lucrative EXIT
  • What are the Four EXIT Habits™
  • Learn effective strategies for increasing the value of your business before selling
  • What achieving independence from the owner’s day-to-day involvement looks like
  • Differentiate between the impact of a personal brand versus a company brand on your business

 

Here are the Show Notes.

 

Here’s the transcript:

00:00:05
            

Welcome to another episode of The Widest Net Podcast.        

00:05:02
            

I’m your host, Pamela Slim, and I am joined today by my guest, Lien De Pau. Lien is not your typical serial entrepreneur, driven by freedompreneurship, she’s mastered the craft of launching, scaling, and seamlessly exiting service based businesses as the founding force behind The Big Exit. Love that name, by the way. She’s transformed how businesses assess sales readiness, amplifying their value for life changing exits.        

00:05:31
            

This ensures the business owners she works with evolve into conscious investors. A fervent believer in relationship marketing and community building, her entrepreneurial journey gave birth to TRAVAK Business School in 2016. It stands as the largest hub for Dutch-speaking freelancers, aiming to leverage and elevate their existing expertise into thriving, inclusive businesses. But Lien’s impact goes beyond mere business; a bestselling author of Get Real, a practical guide on how to live it up, she’s traversed 50 countries embodying her freedompreneurship ethos.        

00:06:08
            

This blend of wanderlust and sharp business acumen has landed her features in elite publications, solidifying her status as a thought leader. I am so happy to have you here today. Pam, what an introduction. Amazing. Thank you for having me on the show.        

00:06:25
            

It’s such an honor. Yes. So I’m so excited. I was lucky enough to get to meet you through what I call a peanut butter and jelly connection. Somebody who we both know said we should really know each other.        

00:06:36
            

And so I got a chance to catch up and as soon as I did and learned what you do, which is to prepare service business owners to really get ready to enter the sales process, I just thought, oh my gosh, what an amazing guest on the podcast. Because this is an area that I have found many service businesses don’t necessarily think about. And so I’m curious as you’ve done so many things, but as you’ve really leaned into this area of preparing people to sell, what have you found? Like, do people not know about it? Do they not think about it?        

00:07:12
            

Have you found the same thing that I have? Definitely. I 100% agree with you. Specifically, service based businesses are businesses that are often not being built to sell. Eventually, I think this formula is very well known within the tech and the software and the SaaS businesses.        

00:07:32
            

But when we talk about service based businesses, exiting is often not at all on the horizon. When it ever gets on the horizon, it’s because most of the times the owner wants to retire, that’s when it comes to the horizon. Right. And I think it’s because a lot of service based businesses, at least the owners that I work with, are people who have started their businesses out of a passion and an expertise that they have around a specific topic. They want to make an impact and a change.        

00:08:03
            

And they know that the things that they know, the expertise that they have can make really a difference for their clients. And that’s often how a service based business starts. It’s from a person having a certain skill set and a certain expertise and starts building a business from there, never with the goal of exiting. But often what happens is the business grows a little bit bigger and before you know it, you’re in business for like five years or ten years. And then maybe at some point the question arises, what am I going to do with this business?        

00:08:41
            

Most businesses that are service based, though, they just close down after a while instead of being sold. So that’s often the main trajectory unless the owner actively pursues the goal of selling the company. Most service based businesses just close down after being of service and of great service for many years. Yes. And there is the common term when we talk about service businesses.        

00:09:14
            

I’m curious for both folks that you work with and the way that you think about the segment, what are examples? What are the range of different types of service businesses to ground us? Yeah, I would always say like, service based businesses often have a specific knowledge that they sell to their clients that help their clients solve a specific problem. So this might be marketing knowledge. You know something about marketing.        

00:09:40
            

Maybe that’s Facebook advertising and you’ve built basically a service and then an agency around that. It could be that you’re an amazing graphic designer and you’ve started building rebranding exercises for your clients and you have become like a rebranding agency. Maybe that’s you. Maybe you have a couple of people that are helping you do that. So basically, anybody who has a skill or knowledge that they kind of sell to their clients to help their clients solve a specific problem.        

00:10:13
            

So those are service based businesses or what I consider service based businesses. Yeah, I do see things, and it is more common, interestingly, like you said, either in tech or in SaaS businesses or in things like a plumbing business, there are some do you consider in the broad range of direct services. So somebody who’s a landscaper or a plumber or a roofer, would that, in your definition, also fit in that criteria? Or do you see that a little bit different with like a brick and mortar business? Yeah, absolutely.        

00:10:43
            

My expertise is more within the online space, but definitely. So let’s take a landscaper or an interior architect, for example. I think everybody who looks at their business thinking like, I’m selling my time for money, I’m trading my time for money, I’m trading my skills for money. That probably fits into the broader definition of what a service based business is. That’s really helpful.        

00:11:12
            

So with that, bring us into just the steps or the areas that are involved in what you evaluate to see if somebody is ready and just, yeah, I probably see it as a combination of a process that you go through in addition, just to steps and pieces that we should be aware of about what’s involved when selling your business. Yeah, definitely. So when we work with our clients, the first step we often do is kind of do an assessment of the business, like, where is the business at at this very moment? And then based on that, we look at what we call Four Exit Habits™.        

00:11:51
            

These are habits that you should have been developing in your company already to make it sellable. And if you haven’t developed them yet, then we’ll define a game plan, what we call a big exit plan, to basically get your business exit ready. So depending a little bit on what the assessment is bringing to light, we will make like a tailor made exit plan or prep work, let’s say, to make the business sellable. Now, when we’re looking at service based businesses, taking into consideration how they have started and grown from an owner with a skill set into maybe a team of a couple of people or ten or 15 or 20 people, taking into consideration that history, what we often see that is the biggest hurdle for these companies to be able to sell is that the owner is still very heavily involved in the business, and that might be the owner is still doing all of the sales. That’s an obstacle that we very often see.        

00:13:00
            

The owner still manages all of the accounts, still brings in all of the leads, brings in all of the business. For example, that might be a major obstacle for a buyer, because if that buyer buys your company, who’s going to do the sales when you are no longer there as the owner? Right. Another thing that we see often with service based businesses when it comes to the involvement of the owner is they might still be very heavily involved in delivering the services to the clients. So if you are a landscaper, it might still be that you are still doing the quality check of the work once the landscaping work is done.        

00:13:41
            

So you’ll be the one that is going to have a look at the site specifically and say, like, oh, that tree still needs a little bit of this tweaking in order for it to be totally perfect. And I, as the owner, feel really 100% comfortable with the quality of the work. Or it might be like, as the owner, you are still looking at the copy of the paid advertisements that you are putting out for your clients because it still needs that tiny little tweak in the wording in order for the advertising to perform exceptionally well instead of just regularly. Okay. So we often also see that founders are still involved quite deeply into the delivery of the services.        

00:14:34
            

And those become obstacles when you want to sell your business, because a buyer will be like, well, who’s going to do these things that seem to be so critical to the success of this company when the owner is no longer there because they’re enjoying their exit and the money that comes from that? So that might become either an obstacle and your business might not be able to get sold, or the buyer will want you to stay on board for a certain amount of time, a specific amount of length, in order for the transition to run smoothly. And not everybody wants that, of course, when they’re selling a company, I think for a lot of people, when they sell a company, they want to get rid of it. Right? That’s often the intention.        

00:15:24
            

And they don’t want to stay on board for another year or two or even three years in order for the transformation and the transition to run smoothly. So I’m touching on a lot of things simultaneously, Pam, so feel free to dive into specific topics if that suits you.        

00:17:24

So, yes, one of the questions that I had immediately that jumped out when you mentioned the four habits was, what are those? What are the general areas that we need to be thinking about in order to build businesses that are.        

00:17:35
            

Yeah, good question, Pam. We have defined a methodology which we call the Four Exit Habits™. And it’s pretty easy to remember because each of the four letters basically mean something and they define the habits that we are talking about specifically. So let’s start with the E. Those are what we call the External Habits.        

00:17:56
            

These are the things that you should be doing as an owner about how you bring yourself to the outside world. So we’re talking, for example, about marketing a lot of service based businesses. They still have the owner very heavily involved, for example, in the marketing part of the business. Either they are very active on social media or they are the ones bringing in the leads, for example, whether that’s in the online or the offline space. So when we’re talking about external habits, it’s particularly that.        

00:18:29
            

So developing the habits of where you as an owner, for example, are no longer, for example, the personal brands. A lot of service based businesses are personal brands as well. So these are what we call external habits. How you show yourself towards the world. You really want to be building a brand that can be picked up by somebody else and be used by another company whenever they are buying your agency or your service based business.        

00:18:59
            

So that’s the first one. The second one, without going into, I mean, we could be talking about this habit only for the next couple. Exactly. No, I know we want the high level. Yes, I’m just going to skim over them.        

00:19:12
            

So the second one is what we call it’s the X from EXIT. It’s the Expansion Habits. This has everything to do with the growth potential of your company. So, for example, you might be working in a very specific geographical area for a potential buyer. They might be interested in, can I expand this part of the business into another geographical area, for example?        

00:19:36
            

So where’s the growth potential? How much monopoly is there with this company? Are you in a red ocean with a lot of competition, where it’s hard to keep, defend your prices? Or do you have the opportunity, are you in a blue ocean? There’s not that much competition there, and the pricing is very defensible.        

00:19:57
            

For example, that’s one of the things that are really important for a potential buyer. They want to buy companies that are very strong with their pricing because there’s not that much competition out there. So that’s the second habit. The third one is the I from Internal Habits. This is how you’ve organized your service based business in the back office.        

00:20:20
            

So are you as the owner, the single point of contact is all the decision making running through you, for example. Then you definitely want to be building the habit of letting go of specific things, expanding your team to take up certain responsibilities, maybe building some SOPs, like some procedures on how work gets done. It’s all about how you organize. Maybe a methodology that you have and maybe protecting that as well. That unique methodology that you have been developing to help your clients, for example.        

00:20:56
            

So those are the internal habits. And then the last one are the Tangible Habits (T). These are the ones that most people think are the main or the most important habits to develop, which got everything to do with the number crunching of your business. How much revenue do you make? What are your profit margins?        

00:21:15
            

How defendable are your profit margins? How is your customer loyalty looking like? So these are like all the number crunching things. And most people tend to think that those are the most important ones. When your business is up for sale, it’s like I’m too small, I don’t make enough revenue, or I don’t have enough profit, and then therefore my business is not sellable.        

00:21:42
            

But those are just a few things that are important to the sellability of a company that’s really helpful. And especially that last insight where many people do just focus on the financial picture and rule themselves out. Whereas you said there could be a very unique opportunity if you have a very strong model that works very well in a local environment, as you said, that it would just be so easy for a new buyer to expand in a new area and get a huge amount of value and revenue from that that you wouldn’t necessarily do yourself. So I like that idea of it makes sense why people work with you, because often we need that external perspective to just understand what the possibilities are with that.        

00:22:30
            

And it goes with a lot of what I talk with my clients about for many reasons. On one hand, if you look at the different stages of building a service business, I find it really is helpful to work backwards. For example, just thinking about in those Four Exit Habits™, ways to be building in some of the metrics, and just having the vision of knowing each of those pieces are important. The other thing is, there’s often in the early stage startup, the founder is usually the one who’s doing everything and then often just gets involved in thinking that that’s going to be the way that it continues versus finding ways to really look at it more as what does the company need? As opposed to you being the person that’s having to direct it?        

00:23:14
            

And specifically, like you said, in areas like marketing and sales, external focusing things, I know each business is different based on what you evaluate. But a common question and conundrum for folks that are in a process of scaling is around branding. And in particular, let’s say, most folks I work with are very charismatic, smart subject matter experts where their own person is an important part of the marketing. And they often say, should I really build this business just with the business name and not featuring me? How do you walk people through those kinds of decisions?        

00:23:53
            

Yeah, these are complicated decisions often. Right. So to cut a very long story short, it’s much more difficult to sell a personal name and a personal brand than it is to sell a company brand. So that’s the most important thing to know. And then there’s a lot of nuances.        

00:24:16
            

So a lot of people have started their business from being a personal brand. They’re charismatic, they know something, an area of expertise that is really important, and they’ve built a business around that. Maybe they’ve built courses, maybe they’ve written a book, maybe they’re doing a podcast about it. So there’s a lot of stuff that they have been building around their personal expertise and their personal brand. Let’s say that’s often where a lot of my clients are at.

00:24:50
And the question then is how are we going to transition? And we have been building over the years a framework to do that, because I personally have done that as well. I’ve started a service based business from a personal brand myself, which I think is a great way to start a business, by the way, because personal brands can very easily build trust with their audience and their potential clients. So it’s a great way to get started and to get that initial traction. At some point you as the personal brand need to start thinking of transitioning into either a product brand or a company brand because that will enable you to get the business ready to sell.        

00:25:38
            

So we have a framework to guide people through that and it’s both very practical, hands-on. How do you go about doing that on a very tactical level? And then there’s also the emotional navigation that goes with that, because it’s also an emotional journey where you’re starting to kind of detach yourself and your name and your personality a little bit away from the brand that you have been building. And for a lot of service based business owners, that’s also an emotional journey to be going through because it also links to the idea that I am no longer of need and that is a very challenging obstacle to overcome. So your role in the business changes because of going through that journey. So there’s a bit of emotional navigation that needs to happen as well.

00:26:46
So it’s a journey, but people pop out on the other side with a business that is actually way more detached from them and actually an asset that they could potentially sell rather than a passion project that looks more like a hobby, that brings in potentially a lot of money, but is not something that is sellable. Because never forget, a buyer doesn’t want to buy a job, they want to buy a company. And if you are a personal brand, they are buying your job. And a buyer doesn’t want that because they can’t even replace you. How are they going to do the marketing if you have always been the face of your company?        

00:27:32
            

It’s a huge risk. You can’t just put another face in front of the camera doing all of the marketing. All of a sudden that’s not going to work. So you really have to work on transitioning from a personal brand to a company brand. That is very helpful in the way you describe it.        

00:27:51
            

And I love underlining that idea that people want to buy a business that is a profitable business, that’s not buying a job. And it is the struggle. And we can see why it can be challenging for folks who have often built a very substantial audience and revenue flow to ever see how that would be possible in order to be building a company brand. And as you said, I appreciate the nuance to it. I always like to give direct answers and I think the work that you and I do, there is a lot of it depends that is based on such a huge amount of factors of who somebody is and the nature of the business and the nature of the buyers.        

00:28:37
            

I’m curious if my instinct is right on this. When it comes to thinking about the high level phased process of transitioning from what has been primarily a personal brand into a company brand. Part of the way I would think about it is as first from the IP processes systems, as you said, really having a business that is clearly defined, that solves a particular problem that is not at all run by you. It’s one thing where there’s that market fit, the way that you see your clients go through that? Is it fueled by, for example, let’s say I create ABC company, right?        

00:29:18
            

I’ve known as Pamela Slim, author, coach, person, and then I want to create a separate business. So I would name it ABC company is part of the way it happens that I would be building that, making sure that everything fit. Obviously could be fueled by some of the IP that I’ve created. But would my role as the founder shift to just talking about me like, hey, come work with me and learn from me to becoming more the salesperson for the company? Good question.        

00:29:49
            

So how we often go about doing this transition, as you are saying, it’s almost like there’s my entity as a human being and there’s the business entity, right? Would I then build a business entity and kind of bring whatever I can bring across from my personal identity into the business identity? Now, in general, there’s a smoother way and an easier way to transition from the personal identity into the company identity. And it doesn’t need to be like building a new company and then feeding into that because you have been building your audience, you have been doing all of the trust building. So normally where we go about or what we, and this is tailor made, obviously not every single business is different and every single business owner is different.        

00:30:42
            

But often we see two big challenges. One is the personal brand is very heavily involved into the delivery of the service. For example, you are a public speaker. Well, no one’s going to do your public speaking gigs, right? That’s a really tough nut to crack.        

00:31:01
            

But it might also be that you are an educator and a coach. For example, I have been in that situation where I had developed a course and I was coaching in group and individually through one to one coaching. I was servicing my clients to get the results that they wanted in order for me to step out of the customer experience and the delivery of the product is one, as you were rightly saying, developing your methodology and the IP behind it, that’s one thing. Second is you can train other people in your methodology who can then do the coaching for you or the teaching for you, right? So you become not the key person, the personal brand that is doing the delivery of the services.        

00:31:52
            

Because all of a sudden you have certified your own coaches who are then doing the work for you. So you are not the one doing that anymore. So that’s one part, right? It’s getting yourself as the personal brand out of the delivery of the products and the services that you have. And there’s multiple steps to do that.        

00:32:14
            

I’m just skimming over the approach, but that’s kind of like high level what you would be doing. The second part is how heavily are you involved as a personal brand in the marketing and the sales. So we will be looking at the sales. For example, if you are still the one doing all the sales, like you are doing all the closing during launches, you are the one that is doing all of the sales calls and are closing one to one with clients, the sales deals, for example. Then we would be looking into hiring the right kind of people that can take over that job.        

00:32:49
            

Like deal closers, for example, that can take over your job so they can close the deals for you and you are not the one doing the deal closing anymore. So that’s that part. If you’re still very heavily involved in the marketing, let’s say, for example, you are using your own personal name as the name of your website, then we might be looking into pushing the name of your products much more forward instead of you personally pushing your name forward. So let’s say you have a few courses, you have a few programs, you have a few books, we will be pushing those way more forward than pushing your name forward. So maybe you have a podcast that you are hosting as the personal brand.        

00:33:39
            

Well, we will be looking for opportunities to have somebody else be a co host, for example, for your podcast. And after a while they become the main host and after a while they’ll become the only host. So it’s not only you being the personal brand with your podcast, it will be your company’s podcast, where you have people interviewing clients or other experts or whoever you want to have on your show or be teaching to your clients, for example. So we will be looking at the personal brand, how heavily is it involved in the delivery of the service, in the sales and in the marketing? Because most often that’s where the personal branding is still very heavily performing and doing all of the heavy lifting in the business.        

00:34:30
            

That is extremely helpful. Thanks so much for clarifying that, because I know it’s a challenging thing to navigate for people and I think it is knowing again, the areas in which ultimately you want to build can be helpful. And it definitely goes to what we talk about every day on the agency side of my business. It’s just the importance of codifying IP methods, models, having programs that can stand alone themselves, as you said, that can become property of the company. And just to clarify, in the example of a sale where you have created this IP, that is part of what your owner is purchasing.        

00:35:11
            

Right. And let me maybe ask that in more form of a question, what are the things that a buyer is purchasing when they purchase a service business? If they’re not purchasing your time and your insight, what do they get? Yeah, so they can get everything and all of it if that’s what they are looking for. Right.        

00:35:30
            

So they can 100% fully take over your business. It might also be that they are interested in specific parts of your business. Maybe they just want to have your client list, or maybe they just want to have your IP, as you were mentioning before. Right. So it depends on the kind of buyer.        

00:35:50
            

And the reality of it is you don’t know who is going to buy your company. So you don’t really know in advance what are the most important things to be focusing on. Because if you’d have a buyer that is only interested in buying your client base, for example, because they want to sell complementary services to your client base, because they have a software for your client base and you are selling something else to your client base, for example, then they might be more interested in paying top dollar specifically for that part of your business. It might be that they really love the IP that you have been building and they see massive growth potential for expanding that IP in other areas, for example, or to other markets where you feel like you’re not really interested in expanding into those markets for whatever reason it is. And a buyer might be interested in that.        

00:36:48
            

The buyer might also be interested in really buying that money making machine that you have built and want to buy all of the assets because they love the profit that it generates and they really just want to buy the profitability of the company and they’re going to be buying everything that is inside your company, including your team, including your IP, your customer list, your email marketing sequences that you have been building, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So saying that every buyer will be interested in different parts of your business. Ideally you will be selling to a party that is interested in all of the stuff that is in your business and you can sell everything off, but it does depend on the buyer and what they are interested in and what they want to do with the assets that you have been building in your company.        

00:37:41
            

Who are the different types of buyers? I think for many people, once they wrap their arms around what is to be evaluated and built, how do businesses get sold? How do people find you? Who do you sell to? Knowing it’s different depending on the nature of the service business.        

00:37:58
            

But are there major categories of buyers? Yeah, there are. So there are considered two major categories of buyers. You have what we call financial buyers. And those are the ones that want to buy profit or revenue.        

00:38:13
            

They’re interested in mainly the financial performance of your company and they see scaling opportunities when they buy your company. So these might, for example, be private equity firms. They are the classical financial buyers. So they would be buying your company because they have similar companies that are having complementary services in their portfolio of companies and they can leverage the money making of your business. Right.        

00:38:48
            

So these are financial buyers. They mainly buy for revenue and profit, to cut a long story short. And then what you have is strategic buyers. So they might be other companies that are having complementary services to yours and they want to expand their services with something that you are already offering, and they don’t want to build that service on their own. So they’re buying a company that is already delivering and have been building that service so they can just kind of double sell to their audience, not only, for example, the courses that they have, but also the software that they have been recommending in their courses, for example.        

00:39:31
            

So these are what we call strategic buyers. They buy to expand into a market or into a service area that they are not in right now, but they want to expand into. So these are the two main buyers, financial buyers and strategic buyers. And as you can already sense, they’re looking for different things when they buy a company. Yes.        

00:39:57
            

And do the deals happen through business brokers? You said before, when we had our earlier conversation before we recorded the podcast a couple of months ago, that part of what you do is really help to increase the valuation by working on these core elements, you make it a more attractive sale. Do those sales happen where people would go to a business broker and say, this is my business, could you find me a buyer? Is it also just bumping into somebody at a conference and having a conversation?        

00:40:26
            

I’m just curious, like how the deals, which watering hole should we be hanging out in if you’re interested in selling your business? Yes. So either what happens is the owner gets a knock on the door from someone who’s interested in buying. So that can be one avenue to take. Or it might be an employee who is expressing the desire to maybe one day take over the business.        

00:40:53
            

Right. So that can be the first step. The other point of starting point could be that the owner is ready to sell. Maybe they want to retire, maybe they have health issues, maybe they want to create another masterpiece. Maybe they want to release a lot of financial liquidity from the business and do something else with that.        

00:41:20
            

Everybody has their reasons of why to sell and it doesn’t really matter why you want to sell. But maybe at some point you feel like, you know what, this starts to feel more of a burden than a pleasure. And I think I want to expand and see if it’s a possibility for me to sell. And then in general what people would be doing is they go to a broker to help them start that process. And why would you do that rather than looking for a buyer yourself is because for two reasons.        

00:41:53
            

A broker has a more expansive network, probably of potential buyers than you have. It’s really like a real estate agent. They have people looking for houses to sell, right? So a business broker will be the same. They will have a portfolio of companies or potential buyers already listed out that they can reach out to anonymously feeling an interest in your potential company and that it’s up for sale.        

00:42:27
            

So a broker will get you way more potential buyers than if you would be going out on your own networking to look for a buyer. So that’s the bigger benefit working with a broker. The second benefit with working with a broker is when you are selling a business, it’s an orchestrated set of steps that need to be followed. And one, the broker knows the steps, that’s one thing, because they do it every single day. But the broker will orchestrate the tempo in which the steps are being taken and will make sure that all the interested buyers will follow the cadence, the rhythm of the selling process.        

00:43:15
            

So the broker will guide that process and will take the lead into that process. That is something as the owner, when you’re selling a business and you just go about in your network hearing if someone’s interested. You don’t do that in an orchestrated manner because you speak to someone here and then three weeks later you speak to someone there and then a month later to someone there. And what you basically want is all your potential buyers. It’s like little ducks in a row.        

00:43:47
            

You really want to put them in a row and you want to have them go through that process simultaneously. Because ideally you want to have multiple people interested in your business that you can start some form of a bidding war amongst them, which will generate animosity, it will generate curiosity, and it will generate action from the buyers as well. If a buyer knows that they’re the only one interested in buying, it will drag on forever and it will probably never close at all. Or if it does close, it will not be a satisfactory close. So that’s why you would go for a broker.        

00:44:25
            

They have the network of potential buyers and they will guide the rhythm of the selling process. And those are two things that probably, as the owner who’s still running a business at the same time, probably don’t have the time and the skills for to actually do that. That’s really helpful. It makes me think of publishing books when you have more than one publisher who’s interested. It does.        

00:44:51
            

It drives the timeline, the urgency, as you said, the healthy competition to be getting the best deal. And having watched it, there’s been a few clients that I’ve walked through that process with. And it is really fascinating, just from my outside perspective to see, depending on who the business owner is and what their objectives are, there could be folks that have a higher financial offer, for example. But they might find that the values are not as aligned for certain business owners. They might not want that business they love that they built with a lot of their lifeblood, for example, to be going to a company that they feel are not aligned.        

00:45:28
            

So it’s really interesting to see that final choices. It’s so fantastic to have the offers on the table. And like you find with your clients, the way they make that decision is going to be beyond just the financial decision, usually depending on how people are wired. Yeah, depending also the reasons of why you are selling, obviously. But when it comes to the final picking and signing, it is more than just how much money is going to be put on the table.        

00:46:04
            

And that’s not even like upfront and maybe later with an earned out or whatever. But the questions that are way more important often is what happens with my team? Is my team going to fit in to this new team? Will everybody still be on board? Are there any guarantees for my team that they will stay on board in this new company?        

00:46:31
            

Are the values going to be aligned? How is my brand going to be treated? How can I expect my clients to be treated once they are merging into the client portfolio of the buyer, for example? So if you have been building a business with all your heart and your love and your passion and blood, sweat and tears, you have probably been building something that feels like a legacy to you and you want to make sure that your legacy is left behind in the best possible circumstances. And it’s not just about the check that you get written and that you can pick up, but it’s also about, is my legacy going to be taken care of?        

00:47:23
            

Very important. Now, we say we love money around here. It’s great. It’s the lifeblood of businesses. And so there’s nothing wrong with being excited about that.        

00:47:31
            

And it’s usually not the only factor that’s really important. So my final question is what I did, especially in my book, Escape From Cubicle Nation. I told people when they asked me why I wrote it, I said I wrote it. Title, by the way, thank you. Such a pioneer.        

00:47:49
            

When you’ve written that book so many. Years ago, it is kind of funny. I often say I think I can see into the future. I feel like each book I write is a little bit ahead of its time, so it’s good to stay around and notice when it really hits. But in escape, one of the reasons I wrote it was so somebody would read it thinking it was just super easy to quit their business, to quit their job and start a business and realize it was much harder than they thought.        

00:48:13
            

The other reason was to encourage people where they might have thought it was overwhelming to actually see that it was possible. So I want to ask you the same question. If you were going to encourage someone to think about selling their business and discourage them from doing it, what would you say are really the trade offs? Yeah. I mean, the honesty is there’s probably some work you would have to do in order to prepare your business for selling.        

00:48:37
            

Right? Like most businesses, because they haven’t been built in a way that makes it sellable, there’s some work that you would have to do, and probably the work will take a couple of years. And this is where the inspirational part I think comes from, is the earlier you start, the more likely it is that you will be selling your business, and the more likely it is you’re going to be selling your business for a life changing amount of money that enables you to do a whole bunch of other things in your life. Maybe create your next legacy, your next masterpiece. It’s all about creating that freedom, right?        

00:49:13
            

I think most of us, we’ve started a business because we wanted freedom. And as you were rightly saying, when you’ve written the book about escaping the cubicle, it’s that draw towards that freedom. And then you come to realize that once you start a business, it’s not all about freedom. There are some hard parts in there as well, right? And it’s kind of like plowing through that with some kind of a framework that works, that enables you to get more freedom back into your business.        

00:49:44
            

And I think when you’re getting yourself ready, or the business and yourself ready for an exit, it’s also about just envisioning that new level of freedom again into your life and the opportunities that it’s going to give for yourself, for your family, for your team, for anybody and everybody around you, basically. So, to me, yes, there’s hard work that needs to be done, and it’s going to take time to do it. On the other side. For a lot of my clients, what happens is they fall in love again with their business, because a business that is easy to sell is a business that is easy to run. Yes.        

00:50:27
            

And if it’s a business that’s easy to run, maybe you have been plowing through your business for the last couple of years and it has felt a little bit more like a burden than a pleasure. But when you start doing the work in making your business sellable, what actually happens is your business starts running on its own and it doesn’t need that much of attention anymore from your side. Some of my clients don’t actually want to sell anymore because they fell in love again with the business and all the freedom that it actually gives them. And I think that’s so rewarding. On that journey, even if you’re not selling eventually or not just yet selling, you start smelling that freedom again, which for a lot of business owners is the reason why they started in the first place.        

00:51:13
            

That’s beautiful. I love that. I was just chatting with a client this morning that sometimes as you do an evaluation, the best course of action is not to do anything, not to build it if it’s not going to be profitable, or not to sell it if you end up falling in love. And that’s a really wise thing to be digging into the process. So I so appreciate your time.        

00:51:34
            

I’m excited that in our show notes you have a Quiz: Is Your Business Ready To Sell? Because probably for many people listening, they’re curious about that. So we’ll make sure to put a link in the show notes. What’s the best way for people to connect with you?        

00:51:48
            

Yeah, so the best way is either you do the quiz if that’s valuable to you, and then I’m happy after the quiz to share actionable tips with you. I also love to share stories of owners that have been selling their businesses and the obstacles that they found and the lessons learned from that. So I love doing all of that. If you want to reach out to me personally, and it’s not through email, for example, the best place to find me is on LinkedIn. I try to share a lot of stories there, a lot of podcast episodes.        

00:52:21
            

I’ll definitely be sharing this one as well, Pam, as soon as it goes live. So that’s a great way to connect with me. I’m there a lot of the times. So you can send me a personal message, follow me, or connect with me directly on LinkedIn. That’s the place to be if you want to reach out to me.        

00:52:38
            

Perfect. And I’m so glad. It’s been fun to connect with you and to learn more after our initial conversation. So I thank you so much for sharing your time and your expertise with us today. For those of you listening, you can check out the show notes at Pamelaslim.com podcast for the tips and resources that we mentioned, including the quiz.        

00:52:58
            

I want to thank my 31 Marketplace production team, La’Vista Jones, Tanika Lothery, Jose Arboleda, and our award winning narrator, Andia Winslow. Until next time, be sure to subscribe to the show and enjoy learning how to create work that matters at scale. 

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