Knowing When To Say When

Version 3
    It is the part of being a business owner that is the least fun and exciting. The time comes when you either have to close a business or sell it because of various reasons. It happened to me, so here is my story.

    For almost 6 years I successfully ran two businesses - a property management company and a small boutique clothing store. The property management business was the revenue generator, my bread and butter. My clothing store was my passion, as I have always thought myself as a fashion guru.

    Like all business owners who struggle with balancing the passion for business with the love for family, I eventually came to an impasse. Managing both businesses, particularly the store which I needed to give a ton of attention began to take a toll on my family and also my pockets. So the time came, where I had to make a choice - business or family? For me the choice was very easy, my family comes first but the hard part was actually figuring out what do.

    I struggled for a few weeks, figuring out if I would simply close the store, liquidate my inventory and sell my fixtures or attempt to actually sell the store which could take months to find the right buyer at the right price. Could I afford it both financially and personally? The more I thought about it, the more I knew the right thing to do was to try and sell the business to hopefully keep it going. I had 5 employees, mostly young inner city kids who counted on my store financially and more importantly socially to keep them away from the streets. After speaking with my wife and knowing she was supportive of selling the store, I went to work. So my success story begins here, it took six months but I was successfully able to sell my business and this is how I did it.

    My first step was talking to my competition; I went to four local businesses, none more than 10 miles from my store to discuss the opportunity with the owners. Who better to sell my business to than people who were already in the business and who would likely make every effort to keep the store open?

    To make sure I got as much interest as possible, I reached out to my accountant who had tons of contacts in the city. Not only could she help market the sale of my business, but she'd also be the one validating my financials.

    I also took ads out in two local newspapers under the business opportunities section, and I made sure to dress up my ads around how fun the business was and the profit potential of the store.

    To make sure if any potential business suitors stopped by and spot checked the business, I ran a massive sale. Not a going out of business sale but one such that I made only small margins off the merchandise that was sold but I knew the sale would draw a tremendous amount of traffic to the store. When potential buyers stopped by they saw a business that had good traffic, great employees, and top notched merchandise even if I was heavily discounting.

    Within four months, I had three serious inquiries. My accountant and I then reviewed the business financials with my three prospects. After the review process we finally had two solid offers that both exceeded my expectations. Having two competitive offers allowed me to negotiate clauses in the contracts, like guarantying the business would not be resold or moved within 6 months and guarantying my current employees would have the first opportunities at employment.

    So how did my success story end? I sold my clothing store for a profit that made up for all of my out of pocket start up costs, all my business loses, and allowed me the opportunity to take funds from the sale and reinvest them into my property management business. As a husband and father, I had to make family first. However, as a business owner I was successful because I understood when to say when.