Cropper: What Do You Want?
Anyone who is looking at the next stage, whether it’s selling or whatever it is, they really have to evaluate what they want for themselves and for their business. There are a lot of different routes you can go depending on what that may be.
Each owner has to decide what’s important to them. You have to decide, for me to get to the selling table, what’s it going to take, what are my fears, and what’s most important. Even if you are just ready to walk away and never turn back, that’s fine, but that list of what’s important is going to be different than mine. You have to look at that and make sure that whatever deal you’re doing is meeting those needs and is in line with what your real real goals are. That may mean to walk away with the most money possible, it may mean to walk away and the name stays the same. You have to figure that out and it’s different for everyone.
When I sold, I knew I wasn’t done. A lot of guys in this business could probably walk away, but I wasn’t ready to walk away. When we were making the decision to sell and we were right at the closing date, my wife said she’s so excited to finally be my first wife. My head was so in the clouds because of everything going on around me that I looked at her like, “What the heck are you talking about? You are my first wife!” She goes, “No, the shop has always been your first wife; I’ve always been your second.” It’s things like that, when I look at different opportunities, as of today I have the full support of my family because they see my wife feels she is my first wife.
As I get involved more and more with Classic, which I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to do, and I have conversations with my family (I have two teenagers and my wife who have stuck through 20 years of this lifestyle of business owner/husband), they can see the difference. They can see that I’m having fun.
Getting even deeper beyond what you want for yourself, you also have to consider what you want for your business and your employees. I can tell you integrity was a huge thing for me in terms of having a sale or partnership. I love the fact that the integrity of the leadership team at Classic is one of their most important things. Once you decide what you want for yourself, your employees and your business, it’ll guide you. For me, the deal made sense because I was able to go to the next stage with a pretty wide variety of options for my future. I feel like, to a certain degree, I was in the minor leagues and I wanted to be in the big leagues. I feel now I have the opportunity to play at a level that as the owner, sole owner, no private money involved, I would have never necessarily had that opportunity.
I go back to, if you want to be done and walk, there’s ways to structure that. If that’s not what you’re looking for, then just make sure that you’re structuring that next step or that sale to give you options that are important to you. You have to have those heart-to-hearts with yourself, maybe even diving into some people to help, whether it’s advisors or confidants. I listen to podcasts with guys who make deals and give advice.
A lot of it is figuring out what’s important to the person you’re making the deal with. You want to know what their fears are and make sure you’re addressing those fears. Also, what’s it going to take to get there? You have to know what it’s going to take to get there. Soul-reaching about the next stage and what you want as the owner is the only way to get there.