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I've spent the last 25 years as an entrepreneur. I've only had a "real job" for 4 years of my professional life. I'm a flawed Christian, have been married for over 20 years, have 5 children, and live in Tennessee.
During this time, I've learned a lot about life and business. Today, I spend most of my time helping other small business owners (and aspiring small business owners) grow, buy, and/or sell a small business.
Statistics say over 90% of US small businesses generate under $1,000,000 in annual sales. This is who I help. These are the businesses I've built, bought, sold, and brokered. These "main street" businesses are where the overwhelming majority of us small business owners spend our lives. This is where I'm most comfortable.
I graduated from Columbia University. I also played football there. I was proud to get out in 4 years and was sure I would never be a student again. I knew I wanted to be my own boss. My first job was selling life insurance on 100% commission. I made money only if I sold life insurance. It was that simple. It was a great experience. I was, for the most part, my own boss. I enjoyed the freedom. Unfortunately, I didn't do well enough to make it a career.
After about 4 years, I left the life insurance business and started working as a headhunter. I liked this job too mostly because it was commissioned based and I could control my income. I liked dealing with people. Unfortunately, I felt taken advantage of by the commission split. The split was unfair, in my opinion, based on the level of support I was getting in return. That "job" lasted 1 year.
ON MY OWN
I decided to go out on my own 6 weeks after my first child was born . My first solo business effort was a VC backed sports related .com. I got enough VC money to stay on life support for several years. I eventually sold it for 1 million shares of what turned out to be worthless stock. This was my first real lesson in small business value...and how to start, grow, and sell a small business.
I loved the entire process, especially the selling part (the negotiating, the valuation exercise, etc.). So...I joined a company that bought small insurance agencies then turned around and quickly sold them to a "franchisee" who assumed ownership but ran the acquired agency under a common name. It was great experience and I probably would have stayed longer but my next .com adventure took me away.
SIDE HUSTLE TURNED FULL-TIME
During a pretty innocent conversation with a friend, we came up with a business idea. We agreed to "try it out" as a side hustle. It started very modestly but eventually forced us to make a choice and choose this business full time. After 5 years, we sold it for over 1.4 million dollars! The experience I had gained selling my first business proved extremely helpful. This was my second lesson in how to sell a small business.
Several months later, I started a web-based retail business with a partner. This partnership did not work out. I eventually offered to buy him out. We used a broker because we just could not do the deal between us (we originally signed a broker agreement to sell the entire business but I decided I wanted to keep the business). Luckily, the broker was willing to be flexible on the commission because the buyer (me) and seller (my partner) were already lined up. He just needed to execute the paperwork and mediate our differences. This was my 3rd lesson. I eventually sold this business ($750,000 average annual revenue) to another party who still runs the business today. This was my 4th lesson.
OTHER BUSINESS INTERESTS
In addition to the businesses I told you about, I've also invested in and owned a haircutting franchise, executive search business, two pieces of speculative real estate, and have been involved in over a half dozen start-ups. Some have succeeded. Some have failed. They all have provided additional lessons.
IT'S BEEN A JOURNEY
All-in-all, I've learned, by being on the front lines and in the trenches, about how a small business starts, grows, gets bought, and gets sold. I've learned a ton of valuable lessons about small business. And, I love to teach and share information. I've always wanted to be a teacher, but don't want to go to school long enough to get proper credentials. So, this is my "vehicle." I hope you get value out of our free resources and services.
MOTIVATED TO HELP
I'm at a time in my life where I'd like to give back. I've gained knowledge that might be beneficial to others. But frankly, it's somewhat out of frustration. The search results and the "mergers and acquisitions" guys want to show us how smart they are with fancy formulas, valuation discussions (that take 40 pages), and sample company reports that most of us will never identify with. The "experts" charge ridiculous amounts of money for valuations when, 90% of us don't need (and probably cannot afford) something that "in-depth." They are better suited to deal with larger companies (ones larger than $5 million in annual revenue).
Also, virtually every valuation book I've ever seen is written by someone who has the brains to split the atom and the experience to launch a rocket into space, BUT has no idea what's going on with over 90% of small businesses. According to the SBA, there are over 28 million businesses in the United States. 22 million are individually operated and under $1 million in revenue!
Need more evidence? According to Dr. Paul D. Reynolds, Director, Research Institute, Global Entrepreneurship Center, Worldwide, 300 million people are trying to start 150 million businesses.
I'm here to help the 300,000,000 people worldwide who either own a small business or want to. We offer free resources, marketing/advertising services for restaurants and CPG brands, Business Value Reports, and seller services. You'll find us most on Facebook.
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