This is a page from my book, “How I Sold My Business: A Personal Diary”
A few weeks have passed since my last entry here, and maybe now I understand why our competitor didn't make an offer to buy our business: They just hired one of our best employees, certainly our best employee who was not a partner. Some of the people at the office have told me he's been a handful to deal with, and they have mixed emotions about losing him, but I'm not in that group. He is an extremely talented person, and this is a blow to us, and I suspect our competitors knew that it would be.
This raises all sorts of questions about what just happened, and as you can imagine, some of the partners are pretty pissed off. I am too, but I know what information we gave them, and what they already had, so I know they didn't use the information we gave them to 'steal' our employee. He's also fairly well known in local circles, and I'm sure our clients rave about his work. But it does smell bad, and I'm pretty pissed, too.
Two things are running through my mind. First, he's going to go over there, and he may learn that our business is for sale; if so, will he tell anyone here? Second, we need to do something fast to replace him, because several of our projects go through him.
The business broker and his NDA
I called Marty this afternoon to vent a little at him, and talk about the legal issues. He tells me that there's nothing in his NDA to cover an issue like this, and this brings up a very important point that I've never seen the NDA he has prospective buyers sign, and that's a failure on my part. So I asked him to scan in a copy and send it to me.
I read something recently about business brokers, and needing to be careful about the business broker you select, with a key consideration being whether or not he knows your industry. I like Marty, but I don't think he knows our industry very well, and I have to wonder if another business broker would have additional wording in his NDA to cover something like this.
Again, yes, I am very upset, but I really don't think our competitor did anything wrong. I know what information they had before the meeting, and after it. If anything, this was just extremely bad timing, and I'm sure they think this will be a big enough blow to us that we aren't worth as much as we were worth a few weeks ago. At this very moment that's true, but our people at the office tell me they've found some excellent candidates to replace him.
My biggest concern right now is that the competitor tries to skirt around Marty's NDA in some way, so I told Marty I was going to call the competitor to talk to him about this, but Marty suggested that I let him handle it. I told Marty one of us needed to call him and remind him about the NDA, and he said he would do it.