I’d love for this post to be as helpful as possible for anyone selling or thinking of selling their business. If there’s anything you’d like me to add or explain deeper, write a comment.
Five years ago, I laid in bed on New Year’s Day stressed out about my future. As a junior in college with a sad GPA, weak resume, and growing pile of student debt, the future was looking bleak.
So, I started looking for solutions. Something I could do that would improve my job prospects and financial situation. After finding this Reddit thread, I decided to start my first business, Lime Maids.
Side-note: If you’d like me to write a post about how exactly I started Lime Maids, let me know either with a comment or email. Happy to share it.
When starting Lime Maids, I truly didn’t expect much. Mostly just a solid resume builder that cost 3/4 of my bank account to make ($800).
Somehow though, it grew into something. Something that sent me on an unplanned journey of self-employment. And, as of August 2021, something that I’ve sold.
Why I decided to sell
At the outset of COVID-19, my workload was incredibly scattered. I had freelance clients, a new project I was trying to get off the ground, and Lime Maids.
After a nice BOBD (burn-out break down), I decided to drop everything to only focus on Lime Maids.
A few months and full rebrand later, I built out a five-year plan to shift it from a passive lifestyle phase into a new growth phase.
Then, I reviewed this plan and realized it wasn’t for me. I’d owned the business for four years, and my heart was no longer there. It had always been lovely to own, but I knew it’d be better in someone else’s hands (i.e. time to sell).
What I learned
The sale itself was a longer process than I initially expected. Overall, it took about 8 months from initial listing (I went with Flippa), to sale. In that time, there were many lessons learned. Here are my top three:
1. Don’t quit the second you decide to sell
This was a tough one for me. My aspiration was to list the business, get it sold, and move on in a matter of weeks… this was clearly unrealistic. Thankfully, I’d made a firm decision to keep the business stable and running while searching for buyers.
I didn’t meet my buyer until a good 4-5 months down the line. If the business had ceased operations (or experienced high churn) before then, she likely wouldn’t have approached me. Since revenue remained stable, however, the business still looked solid and was an appealing purchase.
Takeaway: listing ≠ selling. Keep your business pushing forward until you’ve officially sold it.
2. Be patient in finding the right buyer
I had a nice set of buyers to negotiate with, but ultimately landed on one. Though I’d received more competitive offers, the one I went with was the clear winner for both me and the business. Why exactly?
For me: we naturally got along great, lived in the same general area, and had both never engaged in the sale of a business. Nothing was too serious about the process, and we had a pleasant experience working together.
For the business: she wanted to carry forward the core values I had put into place, while expanding them and the business further. Sure enough, as of writing this, she’s already tripled MRR while maintaining high customer and cleaner satisfaction.
Takeaway: every transaction is an interaction between people. Approach your sale as a people-first transaction and you’ll always be happy with the outcome.
3. There’s a business buying season
I initially listed Lime Maids and expected the inquiries to start pouring in. Instead, I got crickets.
After asking my broker about this, I learned that there’s a business buying season (Spring, specifically). Sure enough, once Spring rolled around, I began getting inquiries left and right.
Takeaway: if your listing isn’t getting traction, wait a bit before lowering the sale price. It just may not be buying season yet.
Right after selling Lime Maids, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Now that it’s been 7 months… I still don’t.
Since the sale, I’ve set up an Airbnb with my wife, travelled around a bit, and have relentlessly questioned my life’s purpose (gotta love being a twenty-something).
Work-wise, the sale wasn’t substantial enough to quit working altogether, so for now this consists of freelancing, consulting, writing, and preparing for my move to Lisbon, Portugal. Truly a transitional point.
Long-term, I’d love to begin working on another business, but inspiration hasn’t struck quite yet. At least I can officially say that I’ve started, grown, and exited from my first one.
Any questions? Anything you want me to add that I missed? Comment below or shoot me an email.