In some start-up business circles, selling is the goal. In fact, hustling go-getter entrepreneurs don't even worry about the profitability of their company--they are only focused on the sale or acquisition that will make them money.
In other small business circles, it's a shocking subject. I have friends that would rather shut their doors than ever entertain the thought of selling their baby. They created this company, it is their job, and they would never entertain the thought of a sale.
About 3 years ago, I started dreaming big. Really big. And this little whisper started in my heart: "I want to sell my music school." I was shocked when the thought came to me. My business was running like a well-oiled machine. It was profitable. I had built it from its infancy to maturity and now I was considering selling??
When I hesitantly shared my goals with a few business consultants, their responses varied. One had quiet confidence and said, "You'll know when the time is right." She believed in me.
Another flipped out. "What?! Why?" he exclaimed. "Why would you even consider that? Things are going well! You should expand—NOT sell!”
His response shocked me. I had revealed my secret dream and he threw cold water on it. I determined to shove that dream deep down into my heart. I protected it and kept it quiet. I didn’t need to share my thoughts to make my intention come true.
From that day forward, I kept my mouth shut but my eyes open to the possibility of selling. Who would reveal themselves as the new buyer? How would I find them? I believed that all I had to do was look. I knew the timing would be up to God. If He gave me this dream, He would also help it come true.
While I waited, I prayed and moved my feet. I knew I had to get some things in order.
1. We hired a strong manager.
We had a manager, but she was young and was juggling two of our businesses. When she told us she was moving on, it was the perfect time to split our staff between the two companies and put a more mature adult in place who would solely focus on the music school. We poured into her and trained her on every aspect of the business: systems, numbers, and operations.
2. We relentlessly worked on our systems.
Countless hours were spent improving our internal systems so our school could run flawlessly without input from me or Chris. Some of our processes were too complex, so we simplified them. Some of our procedures were tailored to specific employees or shifts, so we streamlined everything. We let go of some employees and hired others. Many hours around our conference table helped the entire company to run more smoothly before we could ask a new owner to take over.
3. We got our finances in order
The most important information a potential buyer wants to see is your finances and how profitable the business is. But most importantly, a new buyer wants to see growth potential. Thanks to Chris' love of numbers, he assembled all our paperwork and reports in perfect order. It was easy for us to prove both the profitability and the potential in our music school to grow and thrive.
By focusing on these 3 things, we were in a perfect position to sell. When we heard of someone who was actively pursuing the acquisition of music schools, we set up a phone meeting. That was July. By September 21, the last paper was signed and our school was sold. The process was nearly perfect. Our strong manager, systems, and reports made the transition easy with no speed bumps. The new owner told us, "This was the easiest acquisition I've ever done."
Why? Because we had the right team, systems, and numbers in place.
Some people have lamented to me, "How could you sell your baby?!?" but this baby was all grown up. Ready to live on its own. I had raised it and taught it to stand on its own. It was at the "maintenance" phase and I'm a true entrepreneur: I love to start new things. It was time to move on.
I never started my business to create a job for myself. I started it to grow a company that is ever-expanding. As the years have gone on, I've changed seats often. First a piano teacher, then a manager of teachers and the admin of all the details. Then I switched roles to the CEO, overseeing all of my staff. Then I started Never Alone Business Services and a marketing agency to expand my influence nationwide. Now I'm coaching and mentoring business leaders as they scale and grow their own companies.
Three years ago, I knew I had to sell my company to properly mentor more business owners. I couldn't be in the weeds and details of my own company and give my clients my very best attention. I've promoted myself and my clients have benefitted.
If you have a dream in your heart to sell your business, but you need to get a strong manager in place first, and set up strong systems that are sustainable without your daily input, let's chat. We are coaching many music schools who want to sell and we can map out the process that is tailored for your unique situation.
Maybe you want to sell because you're ready to retire. But maybe you have another dream you want to pursue. Maybe it's just time. Whatever your reason, don't let anyone talk you out of your dream. YOU know best for your future. And if God is leading you, then He is also on your side.
We are here to help, if you need it. You can schedule a call with us here: www.jenhickle.com/gac
We are always cheering you on.
About the Author
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!