In this article, written by Jeroen Maudens (ONEtoONE Partner in Belgium), we will discover that selling your company has something in common with skydiving. As in skydiving, to sell your company you need someone to team up with, a guide, a professional, an advisor. The jump is yours. The decision is yours. The company is yours. The guidance is not.
Selling your company and the skydiving metaphor
Skydiving is crazy stuff, we all agree on that one, don’t we? It is not natural to us. Most people think about it for months or years before they actually take action and book D-Day in their calendars. Before committing we make sure to get the right place to jump (I had mine in SPA, Belgium) with the best instructors and, preferably, a record of low to zero accidents! Bizarre, skydiving is not rocket science. You just go to the airport, check the parachute, do the safety drill, read the instructions, suit up, board a plane and jump out. Voila, done, piece of cake!
Yet nobody does this on their first attempt, we all go tandem. We all wish to be in the safe hands of a professional instructor. Someone that has done it many times before and still goes home every evening in full health. Why? Because you would risk not pulling the string up there? No. You would end up in a rollercoaster of emotions and pull the string too soon… or too late? Due to the sensation you might forget how to carefully navigate towards the dedicated landing spot or use the wrong technique in landing, since it is your first time and risk breaking a leg doing so. In the worst-case scenario, you end up paralysed or even death.
The most probable scenario though, is that you will not jump at all. You will back out at the exact moment when the door opens, and you see 4,000 meters of air and clouds between yourself and planet earth. On the moment of truth, you will step back, tell yourself it is not worth risking your life and keep on wondering your whole life how it would have been to have jumped, to have done it. You will hear about the amazing sensation of freedom, and you will never have experienced it yourself.
How does skydiving relate to selling your company?
Selling your company is a once in a lifetime operation for most people. Yet many try to do it all by themselves. It is the financial operation of a lifetime, the fruit of years of hard labour and sometimes financial struggle, hard decisions and risky investments.
Just because you know your company best, you might think that the best salesman for your company is… you. Wrong! You might learn how to prepare, valuate and market a company. Many books describe what a structured auction should look like and you can find templates for NDA’s, non-binding offers, binding offers, LOI’s and SPA’s all over the internet.
The lowest price is not always the best deal.
One thing though you do not have: The experience of the right mix in timing, nuances, finesse, experience and contacts to create the upside you deserve in your once in a lifetime operation. You need someone alongside you that manages the process and guides you through negotiations when emotion takes control of you. You need somebody to give you that push when you feel like backing out last minute because of fear of the unknown. You need an expert in selling companies, not a manual on how to sell your company. You need someone to team up with, a coach, a guide, a professional, an advisor, a friend. The jump is yours. The decision is yours. The company is yours. The guidance is not. Do not jump alone, get help.
If you are interested in learning more about selling a company, take a look at SELLING YOUR COMPANY AND THE IRREPLACEABILITY PARADOX.