A few years ago, I stood beside a friend as he sold his car. It wasn’t just any car – it was a vehicle that he had since he was 16 years old and cared about deeply. He had put a lot of time, money, and effort into seeing that it ran just the way he wanted it to. It looked beautiful and performed exceptionally well. So, when he went to sell it, he was looking for someone who was going to appreciate it. He kept telling me, “I’m not sure who I’ll be comfortable selling this to. It is just so personal for me.”
While this may have been true for my friend and his car, this is often the case for anything in which we invest our time, talent, and resources. We desire to see our efforts honored and to know people will care as we have. We frequently hear this from business owners, only magnified, when they are considering selling their business. Their organization is something that they’ve devoted much of their life to building – coming in early, staying late, employing friends, celebrating wins, picking up from failures. It often becomes an important part of their life, so parting ways can be difficult.
This highlights the importance of finding someone who values the business for the same reasons a seller does. “Are they going to treat my employees as respected colleagues or simply commodities?” “Will they honor our values or view them as disposable?” These are the types of questions that can run through the mind of someone thinking about selling their business. When this is the case, then finding the right buyer really does matter. They can help bring a peace-of-mind and assurance that there is something good worth preserving and carrying forward into the future.
This values-aligned approach to buying and selling a business can take time and expertise in finding the right “fit.” Patience can often lead to a harmonious transition that minimizes disruptions inside the business and allows leaders to smoothly transfer loyalty to a new owner.
When my friend finally found the right buyer for his classic car, the woman showed up and walked around the vehicle several times. She inspected everything and asked good questions. “You have a beautiful car here. I’ve been looking for one in nice condition for a long time. I’ll take it,” she informed him. The woman had demonstrated care for the car, for its history, and for preserving its beauty into the future. So, it was no surprise to see my friend stand in the driveway until the car was out of site, and utter the words, “I’m glad I sold it to her.”
If values-alignment matters to you in buying or selling a business, being patient in finding the right party will pay dividends in satisfaction and contentment. We would be honored to begin this conversation with you.