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The Two Reasons Owners Sell May Surprise You

March 8, 2022 | By John Warrillow

Sandy and Randy Hansen had only been married for a few months when Randy was diagnosed with leukemia. The doctors gave Randy a 75% chance of survival.

The couple struggled to deal with Randy’s diagnosis. They also wondered what would happen to Randy’s feed business, AgVenture Feed & Seed. It was generating around $1 million in revenue, and Randy didn’t know how it would hold up if he were to pass.

Sadly, Randy died a few months later.

Sandy was left with little more than a handwritten list of Randy’s business assets, most of which were heavily leveraged. Worse still, Randy had recently pledged the couple’s home as collateral on a bank loan to pay off Randy’s former business partner.

Randy had left the love of his life with a colossal mess to clean up. To her credit, Sandy picked up the pieces and started to figure out how AgVenture worked. Determined not to make the same mistakes Randy had made, Sandy documented their standard operating procedures (grab our guide to creating SOPs). She leaned on her employees and approached business problems with a beginner’s mind while embracing her vulnerability.

In the end, Sandy was able to get AgVenture to thrive again under her leadership, but it took years and a little part of her began to resent Randy for putting her in the position she was in.

Why We Sell

It turns out the story of Randy and Sandy Hansen is common. Statistically speaking, the two most common reasons owners decide to sell are 1) they receive an unsolicited offer from an acquirer or 2) they experience a health scare.

Let’s hope you have a gigantic acquisition offer land in your lap one day. And at the same time, know that a health scare is just as likely to hit you in the future.

Depending on how severe the medical emergency, you may not have time to get your affairs in order. That’s why running your company as if you may leave at a moment’s notice ensures you can absorb just about any shock.

If your company can succeed without you, a health event will not present an existential risk to your business. Better yet, a business that can operate without you also enables you to have worry-free vacations and will be a valuable asset for someone to buy one day.

It starts by creating standard operating procedures. Think what would happen if you did not go to work tomorrow, for whatever reason. Now get to work preparing instructions for your employees so your business can survive just fine without you.