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The Question | Built to Sell News

It’s hard to know when you’ll be asked the question.


Like Brian Dean, you might face it the first time you meet with an acquirer. It could come later in the courting process or even during diligence. But rest assured, you will have to answer the question.


“How much do you want for your business?”


It seems like such an innocent question. An acquirer will often present it as only reasonable to know your bottom line before beginning negotiations. They will claim it is out of respect for your time that they are asking.


In reality, they are asking to set a ceiling on what they will pay for your company. Just ask this week’s Built to Sell Radio guest, Brian Dean. Brian was a prolific publisher of SEO content online, so it’s probably not a surprise that Semrush, an SEO software company, wanted to talk.


Semrush officials didn’t waste much time digging Brian’s bottom line out of him. In their first meeting, Semrush officials asked Brian how much he would sell his business for. After a back-of-the-napkin calculation followed by a finger-in-the-air moment, he blurted out $5 million. Semrush agreed on the spot, and three months later, Brian had his cash.


Just one problem: Brian came to wonder how much money he had left on the table by answering their question. “Considering how easy it was, with zero negotiation, I was like, man, maybe I should have asked for more.”


When you’re asked the question, there is a simple answer: Assure your inquisitor that you’re a reasonable founder and will be happy to entertain any offer they think is fair.


You will get the question. You don’t have to answer it.


Hear Brian’s story and how he sold a one-employee company for $5 million:


Listen to the full episode here




Quote of the Week:



“Considering how easy it was, with zero negotiation, I was like, man, maybe I should have asked for more.”


– Brian Dean describes why he should have demurred when Semrush asked him what he wanted for his business.



Clip of the Week


In this clip, Brian shares how an advisor saved him from a potential disaster by helping him avoid signing an unfavorable agreement to sell his business.



A “W” Celebration


To celebrate the acquisition of Backlinko, Brian treated his family to a stay at the renowned W Hotel in Miami. A penthouse suite there can cost up to $22,000 per night, making it one of the most luxurious hotels in Miami. You can view a walkthrough video of the W Hotel here.





Cryoworks, Inc., a company specializing in the design and manufacturing of cryogenic systems, agreed to be acquired by Crane Company (NYSE:CR), a manufacturer of industrial products, for $61 million on April 22, 2024. As of December 31, 2023, Cryoworks, Inc. reported annual sales of $28 million and adjusted EBITDA of $5 million.

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