Your host, Eric Grundhoefer, talks with Michelle Selier Tucker, a pro in selling businesses and designing businesses for selling. To learn more, visit https://seilertucker.com/n
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Buying, Selling, And Fixing With Michelle Seiler Tucker
I have a special guest, Michelle Seiler Tucker. You can find Michelle at SeilerTucker.com. Her new book is called Exit Rich. I want you guys to go to ExitRichBook.com to find that book. Michelle, thank you so much for being here. I know you’re slammed. I know your schedule is busy. I know it was a lot to get you here. I appreciate you and your time. Thank you so much. How are you doing?
I’m doing great. Thank you, Eric. Thanks for having me.
As you know, the show is called Becoming Legends because I want to introduce to my audience what people are doing to get them to the next level. If you do a simple Google search of your name, what you’ve done online for yourself and branding is phenomenal. I’m obsessed with it. It was another reason why I was excited to have you on. If you could give everyone a little background of who you are, what you do, and how you got this successful, that would be fantastic. I want someone to take a little something that maybe they could reverse engineer back from that and then they could steal it from you and might help them.
I’m Michelle Seiler Tucker, Mergers and Acquisitions Master Intermediary, Senior Business Analyst, and a bunch of other acronyms behind my name. I’ve been in this industry for many years. I have personally sold over 500 companies. My team all together sold over 1,000 in pretty much every vertical. On average, we get our clients about 20% to 40% more than what the business appraises for to close about 98% of all deals I write. How did I get into this industry? As a little girl, my mom always tells me, “Michelle is a little girl. She never played with dolls. She never played with toys.”
All I did was walk around with a notebook. I’ll walk up to the perfect strangers and ask them, “I’m Michelle. Who are you? What do you do? How do you do it?” I’ve always been curious as a kid. I always knew I was going to be a writer because I love to write. I always knew I was going to be an entrepreneur because I don’t like anybody to tell me what to do. I always knew that I would do something with people because I love people. I’m a people person. I’m in many different businesses and different verticals. I did get a job. I did go to work for Xerox. I was at Xerox for a little over a year.
My name became The Closer at Xerox because every time they couldn’t close a deal, they’re like, “Get Michelle. She can close this. She closes everything.” It’s like, “Get Mikey. He’ll eat it. He eats everything.” They then promoted me. I got a promotion within six months to Regional Vice President for Xerox. I oversaw over 100 sales reps. I realized right away that I hated it because I like to solve problems. I’m solution-oriented. I like to build relationships that last a lifetime. I don’t like corporate meetings because I feel like you’re getting nothing accomplished. I have a meeting and scheduled another meeting. Anyway, I ended up leaving Xerox. I ended up going to franchise sales, franchise development, and franchise consulting.
I started my own franchise practice. I was an equity partner with different franchisees. Many buyers kept asking me, “Michelle, do you have existing businesses?” I’m like, “No, I have franchises.” I then like, “Why do I keep saying no? I should be saying yes.” It’s a Law of attraction. After hearing that a few times, I’m like, “I’m going to start a mergers and acquisitions business.” That’s what I did and how I got started.
You’ve been growing ever since. I want to pivot real quick. That’s an amazing story. I love that. I want to pivot to this book because this book is coming out soon. I can’t wait to read it and get my hands on it. I’m going to pre-order it right after we hop off here. Tell me what this book is about and what it can do for people.
People think, “It’s about selling businesses.” No, it’s not. It’s not about selling your business. It’s about building a sustainable, scalable asset so that when you’re ready, you have something to sell. Steve Forbes endorsed Exit Rich. Steve Forbes says 80% of businesses will never sell. You got to think about that. If you’re a business owner, that should register with you. You should be asking yourself, “Eighty percent of businesses don’t sell. That means when I put my business on the market, I have less than 20% chance of selling.” It’s a gold mine for entrepreneurs as entrepreneurs leave way too much money on the sale of the business. Also, Sharon Lechter is my co-author at Exit Rich. She also wrote Rich Dad Poor Dad.
It’s on my shelf right now, honestly. I check it out every now and then and skim through it once a year.
She’s five times New York Times bestselling author. We’re trying to make her number six with Exit Rich. She is a CPA, financial literacy expert, and advisor to many different presidents. She writes to Mentors Corner after each one of my chapters, plus Kevin Harrington gave us a glowing recommendation. He wrote the foreword. He’s the original Shark on Shark Tank. We have Brad Sugars from ActionCOACH and Les Brown, Brian Tracy, and Tom Hopkins, all the greats gave us wonderful testimonials. Exit Rich is all about changing your mindset because a lot of entrepreneurs think they have a business, but what they have is a glorified job that they go to work at every day versus a business that works for them. It’s like Stephen Covey says, “Start with the end in mind.” It’s how to plan on your exit from the beginning.Entrepreneurs think they have a business, but what they really have is a glorified job they work at every day versus a business that works for them. Click To Tweet
One of the number one reasons that businesses don’t sell is because business owners never think about their exit. They never think about selling their business until a catastrophic event occurs. All of a sudden, they’re like, “I need to sell my business.” They will come to me and they’ll say, “I need $10 million.” I’m like, “Your business is worth $100,000. You’re not going to get $10 million.” Exit Rich is all about figuring out your end game or destination and what you want to sell your business for. It’s figuring out who your buyers are going to be, and then build that business to meet those buyer-specific criteria so they pay you the top dollar for your company.
It’s also all about mindset, figuring out what is your seller sanity check, what are your objectives, and what are you trying to accomplish. It’s about the five different types of buyers, the negotiables and non-negotiables. We go into the infrastructure because a lot of business owners get this wrong. They’re focused on sales and marketing. You got to be focused on also building an infrastructure. We spend a lot of time on what I call operating your business on all six cylinders, all 6 Ps. That’s the first half of the book. The second half gets into business evaluations, packaging, negotiations, due diligence, closing, and then we have content in there about building to sell.
For everyone that’s reading that is an entrepreneur or a business owner that maybe some are starting out or a little seasoned, let’s use someone like myself that has a similar experience as me. I’ve been doing this for several years. I worked for companies when I started, but I knew when I was younger that I cannot stand working for someone else.
I do not like to follow other people’s directions. I have to do things my own way. One thing that you said piqued my interest was that I have never once thought about leaving my company if you’re talking to me and I’m your demo. What are things and some tips that you could say to people? Obviously, they’re going to see them in the book. I don’t want you to give any secrets away right now or anything until they get that.
What are some things you can say to someone like myself who’s never thought about that, that can give them some tactical advice to start setting up for the future? My first question would be, when would I even consider leaving the company? Is it when I’m older? Is it when I don’t feel like doing this anymore? Is it that I should be thinking way further ahead than that and planning that immediately?
You’re the typical client that said they’re never going to leave their business. They love what they do. They never want to leave it. They’ll sell when they get older and they’re tired of it. That’s the worst time to even try to think about selling your business because by then, your business isn’t doing well. Think about this. When you get burned out, you’re not passionate, and you’re not interested anymore, the business is not going to do as well. Most business owners never think about selling a business until a catastrophic event occurs, internal or external.
Internal is health issues, partner abuse, divorce, death, and burnout. External is this pandemic. You don’t want to wait until you get to that point. That’s the biggest mistake that business owners make. If you were my client, I would be saying, “Eric, we’re going to plan your GPS exit model. We’re going to be like Steven Covey and start with the end in mind. We’re doing that now.” If you want to drive somewhere in Tampa, what do you do? You pull out your phone, you go to Google Maps, and what do you plug in?
Wherever I want to go.
The destination. If you don’t plug in the destination, then what happens? Where are you going?
What do you think happens to business owners?
They’re going nowhere.
Business owners don’t plan to fail. They fail to plan. They don’t have a destination. The business landscape has changed dramatically. It used to be that 90% of startups will go out of business within 1 to 5 years. When I wrote Exit Rich and did the same research, I learned that the business landscape has flip-flopped. Only 30% of startups are going out of business. Out of 27.6 million companies, those businesses have been in business for ten years or longer, and 70% are going out of business. It is shocking. You hear about the big public companies all the time, Toys “R” Us are in business for 75 years goes out, Kmart, and Stein Mart. Disney stores are going out of business and Godiva Chocolatier is closing its 1,500 locations.
The media doesn’t talk about private companies. They don’t care about us. There are many private companies that are exiting poor, selling for pennies on the dollar, or even worse, filing a bankruptcy. You don’t want to become part of the 70% and 80% statistics of businesses that never sell. You don’t want to wait until you get older or burned out. Number one, you want to figure out what is your destination. What do you want to sell your company for? Pick a number, Eric.Many private companies are exiting poor and selling for pennies on a dollar or, even worse, falling into bankruptcy. You don't want to become part of the statistic of businesses that never sell. You don't want to wait till you get older or burned out. Click To Tweet
Let’s go with $1 billion.
That’s your destination. Everybody gets hung up on a number. Don’t get hung up on a number. You came up with it right away. What is the GPS exit model need to know now? It needs to know where you’re starting from. What is your current location? What is your current evaluation? What do you worth right now, Eric? Do you know?
I have no idea.
You’re like every other business owner. What I’m trying to do is I’m trying to get business owners to think. You’re going to be one of those guys that come to me, “What do you want to sell your business for?” “$1 billion,” and you’re worth $1 million. Your destination is $1 billion but you have no idea what your business is worth. The GPS exit model is all about what’s your destination, where are you starting from, and what’s your current evaluation now. How long have you been in business?
Seven years. This would be eight coming up in August 2021.
Have you ever had a business evaluation?
No, I haven’t. I’m failing miserably at this test right now. I feel like I’m embarrassed.
You’re not failing. You’re just like everybody else.
Thank God. It makes you feel a little better that I’m not the only one, honestly.
You’re only seven years. I met with a guy who has been in business for 40 years that never had a business evaluation. It’s crazy to me because we go to the doctor once a year to get an annual checkup. We take our car to a mechanic to get an annual tune-up, but we take our most valuable possession, which is our business, and we don’t get an annual valuation checkup. That’s financial suicide. You’re never going to get to the $1 billion, especially if you don’t even know where you’re starting from.
You got to get an annual valuation checkup. You got to do this every year. Why every year? It’s because there are events that increase valuation and there are events that decrease valuation. The pandemic is a perfect example of that. Most business owners never get that done. Let’s say you want to sell $1 billion and you’re worth $1 million. We got ways to go. What’s your timeframe?
I would lean on you towards that honestly. If I’ve never planned for it, I’ve obviously never pictured it.
That’s what I do. I work with my clients to picture it to say, “You’re young. How much longer do you want to do this? Do you have another masterpiece in your mind?” A lot of entrepreneurs want to get out after maybe 7 to 10 years because they want to go out and create their next masterpiece. You have to think about, “What’s my objective? What do I want to do next? Do I want to keep this business until I get older? I want to retire and travel the world. Do I want to start another business?” That’s where timeframe comes in.
What about someone like myself? Pivoting this a little bit, but it’s off the same topic. Someone like me who maybe never planned to retire, but at the same time, I also have young daughters. I have another business that’s about to start under construction. We move into the place soon and then that is the beginning of a six-phase thing that I have for the next ten years. What I’m doing right now is I’m building a legacy. I have a plan and it’s all under this royal brand. It’s something like that that I’m trying to leave my kids. I still think and agree 150% that I need an exit strategy. What if my exit strategy was always I want to give that to my children?
What if your children don’t want your business?
That’s exactly why you’re right. You need to plan on them not wanting it at all.
You need to plan on them not wanting it. The good old days, businesses used to be handed from generation to generation are long gone. Less than 10% of businesses are handed to the next generation because kids don’t want our businesses anymore. They want to go create their own masterpiece. I have a daughter. She’s like, “I’m not doing what you do. I’m doing something else’s.” Plan for them not to take over your business. Here’s the bottom line. If you’re building a business that you think you could sell for $1 billion or whatever your number is and you decide not to sell, guess what you have? You have a sustainable business that you’ve scaled that’s highly profitable. You’re leaving them in a lot better hands. There’s no downside but there’s a much bigger downside if you don’t plan your exit.
I had a lady call me from Texas. Her husband dropped dead of a heart attack. She said, “He left me with a mountain of debt.” She knows nothing about the finances. She said, “Can you please sell his business?” I said, “What is it?” She said, “Construction.” She said, “He’s been in business forever. He’s got a great company.” No employees, only a subcontractor. He had a job. No processes. People is my number one P. Processes is my third P. All the data is in his head. When he died, the business died. That’s what you don’t want. You want to make sure you set your family up for success and you build the business on what I call the 6 Ps. The 6 Ps is People. You don’t build a business. You build people. People build a business.
Product, you got to make sure you’re in a thriving industry, not a dying one. The number one reason 70% of businesses go out of business is because they stop innovating. Lack of AIM, Always Innovating and Marketing. Blockbuster, what do they do? They had an opportunity to buy Netflix twice and they didn’t do anything. Toys “R” Us didn’t do anything in 75 years. Proprietary is the number one value driver.The number one reason 70% of businesses go out of business is that they stop innovating. Click To Tweet
Proprietary is all your proprietary assets. Patrons and then Profits. You want to build a business on this infrastructure. If you have health issues, something happens, or you say, “I hate this business, now I want to do something else,” but your kids are like, “Daddy, I don’t want your business,” then you can sell it. Otherwise, you don’t want to get stuck in a position where your kids say, “I don’t want your business,” and nobody else wants it either.
I like the analogy that you use where you go to the doctor and get a checkup once a year. You make sure that you are healthy once a year. You need to be doing that to your business because you’re thinking long-term like you’re thinking long-term for your health, mind, body, family, and all of those things. That is fantastic. Michelle, this has been seriously one of the most eye-opening and amazing meetings that I’ve had. Thank you so much for being here. Everyone, her book comes out. It’s called Exit Rich by Michelle Seiler Tucker. You can go to MichelleSeilerTucker.com. That’s ExitRichBook.com to get the book or pre-order the book. Michelle, thank you again. I appreciate you. You’re amazing.
Can I tell all of your readers everything they get if they pre-order?
If you pre-order on or before June 22nd, 2021 at ExitRichBook.com for $24.79, we’ll email you the digital download immediately. We’ll ship the hard cover to your doorstep for no additional shipping costs to anyone inside the United States. We give you a lifetime membership into the Exit Rich Book Club where there’s video content of me doing deep dives in these different techniques and strategies that we’re talking about here.
Also, documents to operate your business and sell your business. Sample policy and procedure manuals, employee handbooks, non-competes, sample letter of intent, purchase agreements to sell your business, due diligence, checklists, and closing docs. All the documents you need to operate and sell your business are there for you to review and download.
This will cost you over $50,000 if you want your attorney to recreate it. I know because I’ve spent the money to create it. We also will give you a 30-day free membership in the Club CEOs. Club CEOs is an entrepreneurship mastermind where we ask the tough questions. We do Q&A’s and you get my time. We help business owners pivot and think about long-term and exit strategy so they can build that sustainable, scalable, sellable asset. All for $24.79 at ExitRichBook.com.
That’s such an amazing value, Guys, go to ExitRichBook.com. That’s Michelle Seiler Tucker. Michelle, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
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