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Key Idea: Sell-Don't Walk Away

Unfortunately, thousands of business owners simply close their doors when they lose interest and energy to run their companies. Host Hattie Bryant says that is not the best way to exit your business.     More...

Key Question:


Business is about value creation and the "baby" metaphor reflects how profoundly personal it is.

The "baby" metaphor may even be why so many founders walk away from their businesses. It is painful to sell something that you have loved for years especially if you see it as your own flesh and blood. Founders may even feel that their "baby" is adorable but others aren't quick to comment so in the back of their minds others must think their "baby" is ugly. If value is real though, others will notice and will pay to own it.

The three founders you meet here survived all of the emotional barriers to selling. They all agreed that at some time they saw their businesses as their little treasure that needed nurturing and protecting. It was their, "baby." But somewhere along the line they were able to separate themselves from the business and see it clearly as something very unique, powerful and strong.

The purpose of this episode is to slow the number of business closings and increase the number of sales. We hope no business owner just closes the doors. This happens everyday and it shouldn't. We think business owners who simply walk away are simply sick and tired of their business and don't have enough energy left to think about succession planning. They must believe that no one would want to buy their business and they are sure no one wants to run it.

This attitude comes from years of feeling alone and often years of struggle. Even though the business has employees and customers, the owner can't imagine any person of sound mind being interested in doing what the owner has had to do over the years to keep everything working properly.

As Jim said, selling a business is like selling a house and we all know that eventually there is a buyer for every house, right? No matter how homely or run down or bad the neighborhood is, there is always a buyer for a house. Sometimes the price is slow but at least there is a transfer of ownership and the new owner can use the assets as a beginning point for growth.

Q: What is the purpose of life? ... its meaning and value?" And, why is that so many small business owners literally pour themselves into their business, working 14-18 hour days, seven days a week, especially in the early stages. What kind of madness is this? Or is it being driven by something more profound?

The easy answer is that we are running scared. Scared of failure. Scared of losing a sale. But there is a deeper answer and it has to do with a sense of mission or calling. Michael Novak has written a special book by the title, Business As Calling. Hattie wrote about it as well in her book, Beating the Odds. Some people just hear an inner voice that prods, pokes and cajoles them to do what they do. At a certain point in the unfoldment of that special "something" having worked tirelessly to bring it into the world, there comes a time when that "child" has to spread its wings and fly on its own. These stories are a mix of destiny fulfilling its promise and of people being called to other missions. Let's explore both.

Think about it

Does your gut tell you that your business has value while your head says, "it would be so easy just to close the doors?"

Clip from: Selling Your Business

Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, and Bend: Three people -- Lorraine Miller, Jim Schell and Peter Schenck  -- tell us why and how they sold their business.  Each wanted a change. They knew their business could live on and thrive, so they went to work to find buyers who could take the business to the next level.

Here is a rare opportunity to study those who have fully completed all eight steps within the business cycle. 

Go to all the video clips of this episode...
More video on the eight steps to exit...

We all must prepare today for the invevitable tomorrows.

Small Business Owners Everywhere in the world, We all will exit our business someday.

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Sell-Don't Walk Away

HATTIE (In the Studio): Hi. I'm HATTIE Bryant. Starting and growing a business takes enormous energy--so much that you can burn out.

Today, you'll meet entrepreneurs who poured their lives into the task of creating something out of nothing, but then they came to the point that they felt it was time to go in another direction: they sold their baby. And though it can be an excruciatingly painful decision, equally painful is the decision to just shut the door.

Every year, there are hundreds of thousands of business owners who do simply that. Today, you'll meet three of our favorite people who will tell you why and how they sold their companies.

(Voiceover) Since they can all do what they what they want to do when they want and where they want to do it, it didn't take much arm-twisting to convince Lorraine Miller, Jim Schell and Peter Schneck to come to our offices in San Diego. I asked them why and how they sold their business.

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