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Key Idea: Tell the Right People You Want to Sell (your business)

Hattie discovered that when people know you want to sell, prospects can come  from surprising places.

Key Question:


Tell people in key places that you want to sell.

Remember that Jim and Lorraine had a similar motivation for selling. They both felt tired and Lorraine said, "... the fun had faded."
When it was clear to Lorraine that she truly wanted to do some new things with her time and her life, she took some new action.

  What happened to Lorraine when she told a trusted friend that she wanted to sell?

She was pleasantly surprised that so many of her most trusted advisors found her business compelling enough to consider buying it. She spent 27 years wrestling this business into sustainability. And she has her stories, from the sublime – the trusted employee who stole to support gambling habits – to the ridiculous – – torching the ground in the dead of winter to break the frost to dig post holes to put up that first greenhouse. Like any successful small business owner, her tenacity and vision kept this business alive.

Why was the selling process so easy for Lorraine?

A: Cactus and Tropicals is a beautiful business -- inside and out. Lorraine told us that customers who don't even want to buy anything will stop by just to relax in the beauty. There is plenty of lush greenery, along with colorful blooms, waterfalls, meandering walkways and places to sit. That is the outside beauty that everyone can see.

The inside beauty is found in the accounting. When she sent her financials to her trusted friend and former banker who was already a customer, he wanted to buy the business. He had spent plenty of time roaming the luscious aisles of Cactus & Tropicals, so when he saw the hard numbers, he got excited.

The other reason Lorraine's sale went so smoothly is that she already had a relationship established with a person who was happy to help her. She didn't have to call a stranger. The entire deal moved like Lance Armstrong going down hill.

NOTE: Lorraine did not tell her employeees that she was looking for a buyer. When the sale was closed for Lorraine she had a pizza party for all of the employees and introduced the new owner to them. She told the employees how happy she was that she had found a person who was going to love the business as she had. They learned that part of the sales contract included Lorraine continuing in a consulting role for several months. Lorraine wanted to help the new owner succeed, so outside the scope of the deal, she made a promise to some key employees. After the pizza party, she told them that if they would stay with the new owner for one year, she would give them a bonus. So far so good as we produce this episode. The new owner is happy, the key people are still on board and Lorraine is thrilled to be free from the day-to-day responsibilities while still close enough to watch the progress.

Think about it

What do you have to do to make your business beautiful both inside and out?

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

Tell the Right People You Want to Sell (your business)

HATTIE: Right. Do you remember when you first got the idea that you could or should or wanted to sell?

LORRAINE: I felt my passion being replaced with the struggle. I felt my fun kind of fading a little bit. Having realized that I needed some professional help in selling it, I found the ideal person. This was a man that I had met when I was on the board of the Chamber of Commerce, and he had been president of the board. And he had been president of one of the banks in Utah. And I bumped into him at a Chamber of Commerce event and said, `You know, Brad, I've been thinking about selling my business and I've had a lot of interest in it. Would you help me?' And so he took my financials and the first week he called me up and he said, `This is a really cool little business. My wife and I might want to buy it.'

And then he called me back and he said, `If you don't mind, I'm going to send your financials up to this fellow. He buys and sells a lot of businesses and I want to have him look at it and help me put a good valuation to it.' And he said, `And also, I have a friend that sold his business about a year ago and he's looking for a new business to buy, so I've been talking to him, too.' And so all of a sudden, it seemed, `Ooh, this is fun,' you know?

We have all kinds of options here. And so he sent my financials out to this fellow named Mark, and Mark called him back the next day and said, `I got the financials, so I jumped in my car and drove down and looked at the business and I want that business.'

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