Thursday, October 10, 2002: Calling the business broker

This is a page from my book, “How I Sold My Business: A Personal Diary”

I put the letter from the business broker in my computer bag, and kept glancing at it during the last few days. The conversation in my head was something like this: "Is it a form letter? Yes, it almost surely was, but he does state he has a potential buyer. He'd have to be a scumbag to send something like this out if he doesn't really have a potential buyer."

Today I finally showed it to Jack, and asked what he thought. Without any hesitation he said, "Let's check it out." I took his immediate response as a sign that he was as tired of fighting with me as I was with him about the future of the company.

Later this afternoon we showed the letter to David, and while he wasn't excited about it, he said it sounded interesting, especially if he was going to get "a big barrel of money." However, he added that he wasn't anywhere near being ready to retire yet, and needed to work for many more years, and wanted to make sure he'd have a good job after the sale. Other than that, he said he'd support us in whatever we wanted to do.

Although the Class B partners will soon be Class A partners, they don't technically have a say in how the business is run, so we didn't bother to run this by them yet. I also got guarantees from my Jack and David that despite their friendships with the other partners, we would only talk to them about this if something interesting came up. I also told my wife she couldn't discuss this with anyone, not Jack, David, or anyone else. After all, it's very possible nothing at all will happen, and things will go back to the way they were a few days ago.

Calling the business broker

Late this afternoon I called this business broker from home, told him I received his letter, and grilled him as much as I could over the phone. I'm easily turned off by a lot of salespeople, and assumed this conversation would be over quickly, but to my pleasant surprise, the broker — a man named Marty — spoke in a very straightforward manner. Yes, he did have a prospective buyer, two actually, though he didn't know enough about their financial situations yet.

Not turned off by him immediately, we set up a meeting for the following week. He suggested that we meet at his office, and specifically not meet at our office or even in public. He said it would be much easier to have our conversation without having to worry about anyone that might be within earshot. I agreed to this, and told him I didn't know who might come to the meeting with me, but he should expect up to three people.

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