By David MacDonald Y ou know that old maxim ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same?’ I thought it was the perfect backdrop to an idea we’ve been tossing around the editor’s table for a while. As the Special Projects Manager here at Spotlight on Business I’m tasked with keeping an inventory of ideas for future articles. When a particular industry is flourishing I have a grab bag of potential writing subjects and topics on-hand. It’s standard practice in the industry. Because we largely feature small and medium businesses on the rise here at the magazine the topic of selling your business just doesn’t seem relevant, or requested for that matter, so it’s been on the back burner for a while. This month I finally won the argument to go ahead by suggesting that selling your business isn’t nec- essarily a bad thing – in fact, it can be part of your plan all along and a step toward something bigger and better! But, I caution you, people don’t change from the time they’re children. Remember your developmental psychology now: preschoolers begin to develop autonomy, or self-direction

as well as initiative or enterprise. In a big way, the person you are in first grade is the person you are today. And that means hot lava.

Let me explain.

The hot lava game, for those of you who can’t remember or don’t have the constant reminder with your own children, is when a child is playing with a friend in a carpeted setting and all of a sudden one of them proclaims that the carpet has indeed transformed into liquid hot magma. This calls for immediate action and both playmates know innately the rules. You must jump up onto the nearest piece of furniture be it a coffee table or sofa and utilize only throw pillows to lily pad jump out of the danger zone. It should also be noted for the purposes of my analogy today that the most difficult games of “the carpet is lava” are played when a friend has been called home for dinner. They have abandoned what was a good time and the rules of childhood will not let that stand. The throw pillows will be placed at impossible jumping distances. Lava bombs in the form of hacky sacks and whiffle balls will bombard your every futile attempt. And missteps will be enjoyed with a pleasure unequalled in childhood. You came. You saw. You conquered. You want to sell. Now it’s hot lava time as far as your buyer is concerned. They want to throw the pillows. First, map it out. Ask yourself if you’re confident enough with the process of selling your business that you could teach someone else to do it successfully. For instance, is your buyer financing the sale or someone else? Second, who’s in your corner? Have you done your homework before drafting your team tax specialists, investment bankers, and financial advisors? Just like you did with your buyer you have to ask yourself, ‘what’s motivating them?’ Third, is it the right time? This plays into the previous point. Be aware of developments in your local chamber of commerce and city council before proceeding. It isn’t always the microeconomics motivating the buyer. Lastly, make sure the runway is clear at your destination airport as clear skies all the way don’t always make for a happy landing. The same applies when you sell your business.

They’re not the biggest throw pillows in the living room, but they should get you over the lava and out the door.



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