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Key Idea: Sell When It's Over Your Head

Lorraine Miller admitted that her business was getting too big for her to enjoy.

Key Question:


Both Lorraine Miller and Jim Schell felt the problems they faced as their businesses grew were too complex and they just weren't having fun anymore. Jim made a list of the qualities of good managers and decided he didn't have the qualities.

We conclude then that burn out and "the Peter Principle" often go hand-in-hand. But it is only when the undergirding of business --those value creation components -- begin to go, "burnout" really follows.

Q:   What is the, "Peter Principle?"

"The Peter Principle," which was formulated in 1969 by Dr. Laurence Peter in a book of the same title, holds that people are promoted or rise just beyond their level of competence, then stay in the position and create problems for the business and for themselves. People get uptight, a little rigid and controlling, and then they burnout.

Is this misplaced concreteness? ... you know, putting the accent on the wrong syllable?

Labels hide a deeper activity. Within every promotion, every new responsibility, there is a fear of failure and a hope for success.

If we were to measure any item of work, even the writing of this study guide, it has a "value creation" component. Every good job has a value creation component. If somebody like Jim Schell is not liberated to focus on the essence of the value creation, you can be sure he will "burn out." They get bored crazy.

The people who have the audacity to think they can successfully start, run, and grow a business are all tied up in that essential value creation nexus. They are "idea people." Creativity junkies. They can see what isn't as if it is. They see perfections where there are imperfections. They see systems for doing things better. They are driven to make the world a better place.

Jim didn't burn out; he got bored into dreading the next day. If he really wanted to continue in that "printing" business, he would have hired a COO and CFO and looked at new ways of printing. But "printing" was not his core interest. It was not his center of being. Look at him now. He has written profusely about this entire valuation creation nexus culminating with several books, among them a best seller called, Small Business for Dummies. And now, he is now aiming at all 25 million small businesses to be part of his OK Groups!

This guy has to think outside the box or he gets bored. And for all you spouses, it is not an attention deficit disorder; it is hearing the essential call to being which is to create something of value -- create order with continuity, create relations with symmetry, and create dynamics with harmony.

Think about it

What gives you the greatest pleasure in your work? How would you describe the value creation component?

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...

Cactus and Tropicals

Lorraine Miller, founder,
Scott and Karin Pynes, owners

2735 South 2000 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84109
801 485 2542

Visit our web site:

Office: 801 485 2542

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1975

Sell When It's Over Your Head

HATTIE: Tell us about the business that you started.

LORRAINE MILLER: It started out as a plant shop in a little boarded-up building that I had taken the boards off the windows. And over the last 28 years, I turned it into about 17,000 square feet of greenhouse space, specializing in houseplants, and then an outside garden center with ponds and beautiful plants.

HATTIE: You started in 1975 and sold in 2002.


HATTIE: Why did you sell your business, Lorraine?

LORRAINE: Well, I'm old. Actually, a lot of reasons. I really wanted to just do something else. Life is short. And I love new experiences, and I want to find one for myself. And also, I grew my company up to 65 employees, and I think I surpassed my skills.

All I had was a passion for being my own boss and for creating my own path, and I feel like I built that thing, not physically with my hands, which I did, but with my head and my guts. You know? And it took a lot of tenacity. It took a lot of perseverance. It took a lot of waiting for one person to leave the counter and another person to come up, because the first person told me, `No, you can't.' And to do what I needed to do to grow it was a fight, and any fighter wears down.

And so in about 1985, it was probably one of those things where ideas are in the air, but, of course, I thought it was my original idea to provide plant maintenance or a plant watering service to banks and malls and hospitals, whatever, that had plants. So that would create a steady stream of income for me. So I started with a branch bank where I banked and ended up with 500 buildings, 25 employees that are just out watering all the time.

That gave me a good steady monthly income, as well as all of the commercial sales that went along with it. So a new hospital goes up, we sell them new plants, we provide the service and it just is exponentially growing.

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