15th February 2022 will always remain as one of the most iconic days of my life, it was the day that 9 years worth of hard graft and toil paid of handsomely for me and my family – The day we sold our business!
As mentioned in previous blogs my intention was always to sell this business, I could barely get my kids to deliver a leaflet (I use the term barely loosely, it was almost never) therefore leaving a business for them wasn’t an option so to build to remain and/or pass down was likely never going to be an option and to be honest I didn’t want to get to a stage where I was in my 50-60’s and still dealing with the day to day stresses that come with owning a business. I set a plan to retire by 40 (missed that by 17 months) and have ‘choices’ to retire – which I knew would never happen or have the time (and the resources £) to decide what I wanted to do. As the time came closer and Tradecoach got busier I knew it would likely be Tradecoach I decided on and continued my property investing and that’s exactly how it panned out.
As the weeks went on after the sale I found myself LOOKING FOR STRESS I couldn’t believe it. my Wife had read that this is a thing. For 10 years (or probably the first 6-7) I was stressed therefore on exiting the company my body didn’t know what was happening and my brain went looking for it which I found bizarre and really made me want to look into the human brain more – more on that further on….
So how has the first year been, did it live up to expectation and does it feel like I expected…
The first 3 months I genuinely didn’t know what to do, I questioned my decision and asked myself so many times “who am I know” or “What is my purpose now” “I am a nobody around town now” and so on. Essentially I had lost all the stuff I kinda liked – The Importance, The Status, The Feeling Needed etc etc and that was tough, We were also in midst of decided if we were going to move to Spain, Fortunately we had managed to buy a place in Spain 2-3 years earlier so we had the option to move to Spain mortgage free and live of our properties here and our savings which now included the business sale. We went to Spain for 7 weeks in June and decided against it but this uncertainty wasn’t helping and still I just wasn’t sure I had done the right thing, I had my clients at Tradecoach and that definitely kept me going and fairly busy but it wasn’t enough at that point and I still had lots of free time (not a good thing at this point)
And then almost by magic on returning from Spain with the clarity that it wasn’t for us and our future at least for now was Scotland things began to change, I had dreamed for years of being able to play golf 2-3 times a week, Go to many more Hearts matches with my son and my mates and spend more time at home working on Tradecoach and slowly but surely all of these and more started to fall into place. With precise goals in place for Tradecoach that took off and soon enough I had a waiting list, Golf started becoming my favourite hobby and Hearts games aligned nicely into my life.
Since then my life has been fabulous and selling my business is now firmly the best decision I ever made. I have never regretted it since and I would advise everyone to consider it or at very least have the ‘option’ to sell.
How to sell your business or have it run without you.
The first thing most of my clients have had to do is raise their prices, there are numerous ways to do this but mainly it involves upping your presence in your area, giving more value and THEN raising your prices, raising your prices are essential to growing your business as you will need that extra capital to employ, delegate and implement certain systems, I have landscaping clients who are more than double their nearest competitors (some triple) however their service and offerings are more than double their competitors too and clients recognise this. Without more income we cannot grow. it’s practically impossible without eating into your profit.
Systems – Nobody will buy a company without systems, most of my clients when they come onboard have literally EVERYTHING in their heads, very little written down and documented and practically zero systems or processes. essentially if you were to be hit by a bus tomorrow would your company run pretty much exactly the same, if the answer is no then your business is not sellable. No investor will buy a job.
Management – You must have management within your business, however management cost money, An Office Manager, Project Manager, Ops Manager and other staff to release you to build things in the background.
Proven sales & Profit – Based on the above your sales and profit should now be rising and this is very important for any sale. Believe it or not to sell it’s probably better higher turnover than profit as most investors will have numerous ways to reduce costs.
How much is your company worth – A good rule of thumb to work out your Ebitda (value v sales/profit etc) is 3 x your last 3 years profit, so if you have a profit of £50k-60k-100k = £210 then you divide that by 3 – Company value £70,000….Plant and Vehicles will add to this but nowhere near what you think with depreciation etc.
Overall selling my business was a massive move forward for my life, I am so much more happier and so much more relaxed, I’m a better person, a better father, friend and a much better golfer. For me personally I never wanted to work into my 50-60’s and feel the whole thing severely unfair – Work 5/6 days per week for 50 years, retire at 67 and average life expectancy in the uk 78 so you get 11 years off……….F-THAT!!
I would recommend selling a business once built to anyone and actually building it (and physically seeing it grow) is the best part of the whole process, Once you start moving FORWARD you can totally see where it’s going and it’s exciting there is no doubt. You then get to a stage where you ‘may’ sell you ‘may’ not but what you now have is a fully systemised operation and the CHOICE.
The sale part is not fun, it’s pretty stressful with investors looking into every single part of your business but overall the whole experience was pretty straight forward.
One of the hardest parts of being a business coach to tradespeople is convincing them that they can actually do this, it can be done and to be honest it’s fairly easy but it’s likely you will need a business mentor to guide you through the processes. Convincing these guys is tough, teaching them is easy as I literally follow everything I done added by everything I’ve learnt (that works) from my existing 20+ clients.
Building Tradecoach isn’t too difficult, there can’t be many (if any) business coaches out there who have started a business with practically zero capital, built it from zero experience, with zero contacts in the industry and taken it all the way through to sale – if there is I have yet to come across him or her.
It can be done – Believe it