“Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.”
“Everybody has a price.”
–Ted “The Million Dollar Man” DiBiase
When the founders of our company had our first corporate strategic planning retreat, we laid out this grandiose idea of growing to an immense size and having a company full of people who made the business run, and we could move up to become board members and issue brilliant strategic corporate guidance once a quarter, enabling the company to continue to grow and do great things. Either that, or within 5 years, we’d get sold.
The first image we had was a fallacy through and through. We were never going to get to the point where we could sit back on beaches drinking umbrella drinks and providing the occasional quarterly guidance through Skype conferences. At least, we weren’t going to get there in our lifetimes. It was a nice image, but it was unrealistic.
However, the being sold within 5 years image was realistic. We also walked away from the first opportunity.
The opportunity came serendipitously. At least, it seemed serendipitous when it first happened, but in retrospect, it came about because we placed ourselves in a position to be found. More about that in a little bit.
When someone with a real interest first posed the question “are you for sale?” to me, I gave the answer that I would continue to give from that point on. “My house is not for sale. However, if Bill Gates drives by and presents me with a $10 million certified check to buy my house, it’s for sale.”
What I meant by that statement was that everyone has their price. Even if what you build is your baby, the creation of sweat, tears, blood, long nights, dreams that wake you up in a cold fright that you’ve just missed payroll and now every one of your employees will starve, and it seems abhorrent to your soul that you cannot sell your baby, your business is for sale. There is always a price at which you will sell your company. If it’s the first time you do it, the price is probably pretty low – much lower than you think because you fear loss, and once you have an offer on the table, it’s hard to think about what will happen if you walk away from that money and then fail. If it’s not the first time or you already have walk-away money stashed in the bank, then the price will probably be higher because the psychic costs of loss won’t be as high for you, particularly if you’re not running at top speed on the hedonic treadmill.
Regardless, your business is always for sale. Those who create can create again.