By Karen Kuzsel
Owning a small business is a 24/7 proposition. There are books to balance, clients to appease, services for which you want to excel.
Someday you may want to sell your business, but before you do, advises author and President and CEO of Event Business Formula (the first online platform dedicated to helping event business owners manage and grow their business and get a Life!) Eric Rozenberg, ask yourself these questions:
- Why do you want to sell?
- Do you have a reliable team in place to continue the business under a new owner?
- Have you taken stock of what buyers want?
- Have you measured the competition?
- Do you have a price in mind of the value of your business?
- What are your plans after the sale?
Rozenberg posed the questions and engaged the participants in supplying the answers on a zoom session for MPI’s Small Business Owners (SBO). He began the hour-long session on Running Your Business As If You Plan To Sell It by posing these initial queries: What is your succession plan (which you must have) and how do you make money by selling your business?
The CMP, CMM, HOEM, FONSAT and author of Meeting at C-Level – An Executive’s Guide for driving strategy and for helping the rest of us figure out what the boss wants, has consulted for two decades with Fortune 500 companies and produced events in more than 50 countries. He said each “event was designed to not just entertain attendees but also to align them with corporate goals, generate profits and empower teams. I believe organizations must create meetings and events that are not only breathtakingly memorable, but which, on top of that, bring corporate strategies to life and amplify team motivation/performance.”
He began the session by asking the group to explain their reasons for having begun a business, a venture that presents a myriad of challenges.
The responses from SBO members ranged from “I was fed up with Corporate America deciding my career moves” to several people saying they had an idea that no one else was doing. A member of the SBO Advisory Council said she began her sales & training business to “inspire young people in college and show them how to push through challenges and remain committed to their goals.”
Originally from Belgium and now a proud citizen of the United States, Rozenberg also penned a book called Before It’s Too Late, a love letter to his daughters and America. The book is a best seller on Amazon.
The author next asked the group, “What are your current frustrations?”
Again, the responses reflected the diversity of participants and their varied businesses.
“Brand awareness,” said one. “Building a client pipeline,” said another. Other answers included, “High costs which may be realistic or gouging” to “How to efficiently spread the word that my product exists” and “Keeping knowledgeable on all the changes occurring in the industry.” More answers were “Clients making very last-minutes decisions and expecting me to implement them”; “Bridging personal and professional values”; “Dealing with marketing companies who insist they can get me to #1 on Google (which I already am), and then want to sell me services without knowing what I actually do.” One Advisory Council member who is an attorney elicited laughs when he said, “Since I’m retired, I’m frustrated I can’t do more!”
Why do people sell? “They’ve lost their drive, want to build up their cash reserves, or play a game with themselves to prep the business for sale without really intending to do so,” said Rozenberg, the first European ever to serve as Chairman of the International Board of MPI. He added that once a business owner opts to sell, what factors play into what price to set.
“How much would it take to maintain your lifestyle? You need to take into account the taxes that would need to be paid from the sale,” said Rozenberg, the host of The Business of Meetings podcast. He explained each guest shares her/his knowledge about their field of expertise and the impact it can have on business owners in the Meetings & Events Industry. He added, “You have to know what buyers are looking for.” He then outlined four points to be considered. Strategic vs operational; Acquisition entrepreneurs; Baby boomers retiring, which creates more competition for business being sold; and Venture capitalists vs private equity.
He also noted that the more a business doesn’t require your presence, the higher the value. Buyers will want to know the team has been well taken care of and would slide into the new owner’s needs. There will be transparency processes (inclusivity, sales, onboarding, and finance) to be examined. He suggested small business owners should “Take care of themselves first so you are better able to tend to the needs of others.” He added, “Do what you do best. Hire others to support your weaknesses.”
Rozenberg said before selling, ponder “what’s next?” Some owners he said get depressed because they are no longer in the stream of activity. Others jump into a new project to occupy their time and energy.
Before closing the discussion, he mentioned nine books he thought small business owners should read before selling their business.
The nine books are: Simple Numbers 2.0 by Greg Crabtree; Scaling Up by Verne Harnish and the team at Scaling Up; Traction by Gino Wickman; Atomic Habits by James Clear; Buy Back Your Time by Dan Martell; Who Not How by Dan Sullivan with Dr. Benjamin Hardy; The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel; The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber; and The Number by Lee Eisenberg.
Maryanne Bobrow, CAE, CMP Fellow, CMM, owner of Bobrow Associates, Inc. and one of the founding members of the SBO, added one more book to the list: Good to Great by Jim Collins.
Eric Rozenberg can be reached at www.linkedin.com/in/ericrozenberg
Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries. She is an active member of International Live Events Association and Meeting Professionals International and is now serving on the 2022-2023 MPI Global Advisory Board for Small Business Owners. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events in her blog, Hotel Happenings & Program Promotions. A career journalist, she has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. Karen@KarenKuzsel.com; www.KarenKuzsel.com; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.