Three Key Qualities of Successful Entrepreneurs. What to do if you are in Deep Debt Problems in Business and you want to Sell your Business.

1) When You Think Big, the Problems Are Bigger

Here are my observations of being in deep problems in business and dealing with a mountain of debt:

Fear is not a good motivator; it leads you into panic and that makes for bad decision making. Anger and resentment are also emotions which are never far away – and both will alienate all parties if you put them on display. So you need to try to work towards a much more positive mindset – one of hope and optimism – as quickly as possible.

Even if you are not particularly religious, it helps to call on a ‘higher power’ to send you the strength to get through your crisis, plus the solutions you need. You need to have absolute faith for this process to work (which actually feels like a deep sense of calm), and almost immediately you will find that new people, opportunities and invitations will start appearing out of the blue. When this happens, keep an open mind and explore everything that comes your way, even though you can’t immediately see the logic in doing so at the time.

Stay positive and see your situation not as a problem but as a challenge which has been sent to strengthen you, and from which you will learn valuable lessons.

Remember, you are on a life journey, and change is often sent to move you to the next phase of your life, even if it feels uncomfortable at the time. So, even if it all goes pear shaped, bear in mind this could just be life paving the way for something even bigger and better that it has in store for you. Take strength from this extract from Max Ehrmann’s famous poem, ‘Desiderata’:

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

2) Rejection and Rip-Offs

I am often asked whether entrepreneurs are born or bred, and my answer is always that, in my view, there are just three key qualities that all successful entrepreneurs possess which make them stand apart from the crowd. Sometimes you are just born with these qualities, but more usually they are built in via a tough childhood. The qualities are:

SELF-BELIEF, DETERMINATION and DRIVE. If you possess these qualities you absolutely do not need anything else to be successful in business – no capital, no contacts, no experience – and indeed no real talent! All those things can easily be found if you have enough self-belief, determination and drive, because being an entrepreneur is just like being a magician: it is the ability to turn ideas into action, and then assemble all the resources you need to make your business idea a reality. And there is no better story to illustrate the truth of this than that of James Dyson, whose entrepreneurial journey is eloquently explained by the ghostwriter Giles Coren in James’s autobiography Against The Odds.  A journey so beset with issues and struggles and adversity it makes incredible reading!

Remember, the darkest hour is often just before the dawn.

Here are a few observations about persistence in the face of rejection:

  • Read any successful person’s life story and you will soon realise that every single one of them – whether entrepreneurs or entertainers – endured many years of relentless rejection and humiliation before they finally found success. Think of it as the apprenticeship you need to serve if you want to succeed in business.
  • Persistence is not just about relentlessly plugging away at something in the same way day after day, year after year. You need to trial every single way and approach that you can think of to find your breakthrough.
  • If you are struggling with a go-no-where business it could make sense to focus on something else. But if the business you are currently struggling with is truly ‘The One’, then you will know deep in your heart that it is right to keep fighting on.
  • Overnight success is extremely rare – success usually builds over time.
  • Once you reach a tipping point, that is, when the offers, opportunities and cash really start to pour in, this is the glorious point at which you achieve ‘momentum’ in business – and everything can start to flow very fast and furiously. Momentum is very difficult to achieve – and is worth a huge amount of money precisely for that reason.

3) Knowing everything I know now, here’s what I would advise you to do if you want to sell your business:

  • There are a few exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking your business is most likely to be bought if it is growing and profitable. So, whatever happens and right up to the point of doing the deal, growth and profitability should be your first focus.
  • If you are contemplating selling your business, make sure that every aspect of it is rock solid, including its systems, strategy, IP, contracts, accounting policy and people. No area will be overlooked in the due diligence process, and if you aren’t proved squeaky clean you can be sure it will be used against you.
  • Avoid any form of buyout clause. They are easily manipulated by your new parent company and could even act as a disincentive for your new parent to give you the support you thought you were doing the deal for in the first place.
  • Yes, the best time to sell a business is at the height of its value – but how do you know when that time has come? A better yardstick is to sell your business the moment you have lost your passion for it. Selling out will give you the freedom plus the capital you need to do your next business venture.
  • Get the best advice money can buy, including advisors to help you negotiate the deal. You’ll maximise the price that way, and sometimes creating distance from the negotiating table can be a powerful thing.
  • Don’t be too eager or show too much enthusiasm. In the same way that a man will come on to a woman much harder if she holds back a little in the dating process, sometimes ‘going quiet on a deal’ for a few days or even weeks can make the other party even more hungry to complete. Sometimes there is nothing more effective than ‘radio silence’.
  • The more options you have (including the option not to sell), the more powerful your hand.
  • Try not to value your business based on what you think it is worth. Value it on what it could be worth to the acquiring party – frequently this is a much larger sum than the one in your own mind. Don’t sell yourself short.
  • Remember, the deal is not done until the ink is on the paper. Until that moment, you cannot assume anything, whatever positive noises are being made or whatever assurances you may be given. To protect yourself in case the deal does go through, do not take your eye off the business ball, and always keep at least three options open.
  • In paper-for-paper deals you will always be at the mercy of forces you cannot control, and your lock-in period will often prevent you from disposing of the shares for two years. Therefore always take cash, no matter how tempting the share-for-share option might seem.


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