Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

The fundamentals of Buying, Building, and Selling a business


To my knowledge, there is no other blog or book or lesson or presenter who shows someone the basic pieces necessary to generate wealth with real world experience as I will. It’s the nuts and bolts of the whole buy, build, sell process.

There are basically 4 steps:

  1. Preparing – What you need to know prior to getting started.
  2. Buying – How to find, value, negotiate, and purchase a business.
  3. Building – What you can do quickly to increase the value of the business.
  4. Selling – The ins and outs of selling your business.


Ironically, as my most recent blog has pointed out (it’s ironic because it took me 18 months to write the blog that I should have written first), the most important part is your mindset and your attitude. Next, you’ll also need to take the first 3 steps to becoming wealthy including, always spending less than you earn, understanding the difference between where you are and where you want to be is education, and framing your goals into  Do x Be = Have context. Possibly most importantly, you need to have a clear motivation for being an entrepreneur (even if it’s different than mine) and you need to appreciate that the ethical route is always the most profitable. And make sure you’re able to get over your fear of failure in trying new things.

It’s important to understand that there’s no better, quicker way to go from very little money (let’s say less than $5,000) to a lot of money. You can even take it to the next level and setup a business to generate $1,000,000 per year if that’s your desire. Recently, as part of another blog, I’ve outlined a basic plan for how someone can go from $5,000 or less to $1,000,000 primarily through business. To stress the point even further that buy, build, sell is the best way to generate wealth for the average individual, review my suggestion to skip getting your MBA and just buy a small business for your business education.


In the buy, build, sell strategy, the part that will have the greatest influence on your profit is the purchase price so learn as much as you can for this stage.

First, you’ll want to know some basic questions to ask the seller about their business and maybe even what questions to ask about any given business idea. Then you’ll have to understand how banks value a business in case you need to go to them for financing and also how EBIDTA can tie into business values (since sellers and business brokers may reference it). As you start looking for businesses, you need to have some ideas of where to find businesses for sale for little money down and how to deal with the business brokers once you find one you’re interested in.

Before you start making any offers, it’s very important that you get the seller (or broker) to like you since then they’ll be more likely to accept your business valuation. It’s very simple to turn someone down you don’t like anyway. Once you’re ready to make an offer, make sure you only purchase the assets and then put them into an LLC filing as an S-corp. If you do that, you won’t have to spend nearly as much time fighting with lawyers. But since you may need one anyway here are a few tips for getting the best rates from your lawyer.

When you’re just starting out you may be considering a partner but make sure you don’t take on a business partner unless absolutely necessary.


In the building stage you’re going to need to know what to do your first 2 weeks onsite at a business you’ve just purchased. If you don’t already know the difference between profits and cashflow, I’m sure you’ll learn very quickly.

Immediately you need to work on polarizing your company’s culture, improving teamwork, and communicating effectively. Right out of the gate you need to start setting up your business for running without you through the effective use of technology, incentives, and empowering your team. If you don’t do that immediately, you’ll soon be asked to do lots of things “in” the business that will take away from you working “on” the business. This is vitally important because if you’re not working on the business you’re not taking the time necessary to double profits, improve marketing, teach your team the importance of NLP, create systems, processes and scripts, or improve closing ratios. In other words, your primary focus for building value in your business is going to entail 3 parts:

  1. Increasing Sales – through new and improved marketing and better conversion rates. In other words you have to make sure your system for taking a lead and converting it to a customer is top-notch. Don’t forget that your back-end sales (sales to existing customers) will always be your most profitable business. With that in mind, if you can buy an already profitable business that’s horrible at back-end sales you can quickly increase its value.
  2. Cutting Costs – look at all of your expenses and simply cut those that aren’t needed. We reworked our accounting and phone costs alone to save thousands of dollars per year.
  3. Improving Efficiencies – this is primarily about scripts, systems, and processes for every aspect of your business.

Don’t make the mistake I did and wait until cash gets tight to realize that cashflow is king and then start building recurring revenue while looking for quick, easy, cheap ways to generate immediate cashflow.

Chances are you’re going to run into some issues with team members so it’s helpful to know the proper way to fire someone without having to pay unemployment and effective ways to get your team members to do what they do best.

As you’re building your business you need to work on getting it to achieve critical mass by, in particular, hiring or training the 3 leaders every business needs to succeed.

In summary, you need to have a game plan from day one including an exit strategy or else you might end up like one of the 300 businesses in NYC who failed because they failed to plan for success.


Since this blog is getting long and selling isn’t much different than buying I’ll keep this short. You need to basically understand 3 things:

  1. How to value your business just the same as discussed in buying so you can justify your price.
  2. Where to list your business which is again the same places where you’d go to find a business for sale (such as
  3. How to foster relationships so that when it’s time to sell, you have a few personal contacts in mind.

With regards to the 3rd, you may want to get to know other business owners in your area who have complimentary (or even competing businesses). You may also consider hiring a leader who would like to take over and own their own business some day. If you have a franchise like mine, you will also want to stay in touch with owners in other areas as they might want to expand their operations.

The goal with this post is to organize and direct the many varied posts I’ve written about my adventure buying, building, and now selling my business over the last 18 months. As I add more posts I’ll try to keep this summary updated so you can always reference it for new material.

To your generating-wealth-through-business success, Bryan

What your small business needs to do to weather the economy…

It’s amazing what lessons we learn in tough times that are quickly forgotten in times of growth. Below is my list of necessary remedies for ensuring your business can thrive in a tough economy.

  1. Have cash available – Check out my blog about cashflow first. In essence, if your receivables are high or you have an issue with billing or you just have a slow month, make sure you have access to cash so you don’t have to miss payroll. That doesn’t help team member morale much. Discipline yourself to build up a company savings account with at least enough money to cover 1 payroll. Another way to help cashflow is to pay for performance instead of just hourly or flat salary.
  2. Improve MarketingDon’t cut back on your marketing unless that marketing isn’t producing results. More and more people are skipping the Yellow Pages and going to the internet. Or they’re going to the yellow pages simply to get your phone number once they already know who they’re going to call. How much are you spending on yellow pages? Is it paying off? Invest time into making your website better if that’s an area that drives leads. Try some direct mail campaigns. Place an offer along with your radio and print ads to measure the response. If it’s working invest more money into it. If it’s not, cut or eliminate it completely. Focus on referrals!
  3. Cut Expenses – Use better technology (VOIP, Quickbooks Payroll, Online bill-pay, online backups). Improve employee efficiency with detailed procedures and performance based incentives. Search for better deals before purchasing anything. Shop from multiple vendors and keep a database of vendors available for each part so you know where to get the best deals.  Find out from ALL of your vendors if they have quantity and pay-quickly discounts (i.e. pay in 10 days to receive 2% discount instead of in 30). Cut out some of the owner perks if necessary.
  4. Ask your team for help – It’s a team and they’re all working with your customers every day. What can they bring to the table as potential cross-marketing, upgrade, and add-on opportunities that you’re not taking advantage of right now? Get everyone involved so they “buy into” new programs. At the same time, work to improve the productivity of your team.
  5. Sell to your existing customers – They know and trust you so how else can you help them?
  6. Know your numbers -Taking a page from Michael Masterson, each leader should only have 3 numbers to focus on.
    1. Your office leader needs to know total receivables, outstanding payables, and bank balances.
    2. Your sales leader needs to know # of outstanding leads, # of new sales, and average dollar sale.
    3. Your marketing leader needs to know # of leads coming in from each marketing project, # of sales from each project, and average dollar sale.
    4. Your service leader needs to know # of work orders completed, # of work orders outstanding, and # of customer complaints.
  7. Acquire competitors and/or complimentary businesses – If you have the top 6 under control, it’s time to really take advantage of the economic climate by acquiring more businesses. Competitors are perfect since you can cut out nearly all of their overhead expenses by absorbing them into your business. Generally if they’re for sale they haven’t done as good of a job as you so they should be ripe for new marketing, cross-marketing, add-ons, up-sales, etc. A complimentary business can help you do the same thing. You may not get as many synergies as quickly, but with a complimentary business you can now sell the service your new business provides to your existing customer base and vice versa.
  8. Avoid starting a business – When you start a new business, you have a lot of expenses up-front and NO customers. You have no immediate cashflow, no systems, no marketing, no referrals coming in, no name recognition. Nothing. By relying on an established business as your primary source of cash you don’t have nearly the time invested as starting from scratch. And on day 1 you have sales and money coming in.

There are lots of “little things” you can work on to improve your business to make sure it’s resilient in times of economic slow-downs. However, don’t get bogged down in the details! This was a quick overview of just the most basic things every business should be doing. Obviously all of this is true in good times and bad so when your business starts picking up, don’t forget to stick with it!

To your success, Bryan

Nearly half of Americans think 2008 will go down as one of the worst years in American history…

Wow. Were the past 12 months that bad for you?

As I was reading the Wall Street Journal on my Kindle this week I came across an article that references a Wall Street Journal/NBC news poll indicating that nearly half of the people surveyed think 2008 will go down as one of the worst years in US history. Since 90% of the respondents indicated that the economy has gotten worse in the last 12 months I’m going to assume that’s the primary reason everyone hates 2008. I must say, as a young entrepreneur who has put everything on the line to buy a small business and move across the country 8 months ago, I’m a bit shocked…

Here’s why I’m a bit shocked that people think things are so horrible:

  • I sold my house in Pennsylvania in about 3 months at a profit when I’d only purchased it 24 months earlier.
  • I easily got financing (at 95%) for my new place in New Mexico.
  • I’ve secured several commercial bank loans and still have access to low interest credit.
  • My business is about to have the highest grossing year of revenue in its 60 year history.
  • We’ve hired 3 new people this year and anticipate more growth in the next 12 months.
  • I bought and resold a motorcycle in less than 2 months at 30% profit this summer.
  • My personal net worth has increased more in the last 8 months then it has during the previous 25 years of my life.

Now the news isn’t all rosy:

  • At last count my stocks, mutual funds, etc. are down about 33% this year. However that doesn’t really bother me since most of my money is invested in other areas. Now I have an amazing opportunity to increase my stock holdings and take advantage of severely discounted businesses on the stock exchange.
  • I haven’t been able to sell my sports car. It’s a 2006 G35 coupe. Bright red. Not exactly the vehicle people “hunkering down” for a depression would be buying.
  • My debt has increased more in the last 8 months then it has during the previous 25 years of my life. However, the right kind of debt isn’t bad as long as it’s used for assets and they are appreciating.

So what does this all mean to you? It’s very simple, are you bracing for a recession, depression, or worse? OR are you finding the opportunities that are now greater than ever out there.

Right now you can buy businesses, houses, stocks and mutual funds cheaper than probably in the last 20 years. Particularly with the housing market, if you have good credit, with the tightening restrictions on lending, guess what’s going to happen? More people are going to have to rent. Housing prices are down and rental prices are going to start going up (rental rates don’t seem to have changed much in my area yet). Is there a more perfect formula for residual income and profiting from rental properties then that???

As Brad Sugars pointed out recently – In Las Vegas, where the housing market has been particularly hard hit, he talked to a realtor who said he’s getting killed because no one is buying anything. Shortly thereafter he spoke with another realtor who said he has more work then he knows what to do with. With all of the foreclosures, banks are scrambling for good realtors to sell for them.

Which guy or gal are you? Is it all doom and gloom or are you picking out the opportunities that are abound?

The possibilities that are created in 2008 may be the ones that allows you and I to create more wealth more quickly than ever before. And what’s the worst that can happen? You could buy a business and fail? You could buy a stock that goes bankrupt and lose your investment? You could buy a rental property that doesn’t get rented out? Well, here are a few quick ways to minimize the chance of any of those things happening.

  1. Buy a business – Make sure it’s a staple that everyone will need no matter what’s going on in the economy. If you have few or no competitors, even better. If you already own your business, buy your competitors and/or complementary businesses that can benefit from your current facilities and customer list to spread overhead between several entities keeping costs low. What’s your company’s niche??? The most important part is the PURCHASE PRICE. Buy it cheap. Make sure you tell the seller that the economy is horrible and they better take your offer while it’s still on the table. 😉
  2. Buy a house – If you’re looking for a rental property and you’re not too worried about tax deductions, single-family dwellings are always the best to start out with. Young families and couples are abound so there’s always a need. And with the current credit markets those people will need to rent. Keep in mind, just like with a business, what’s unique about your property that will make people want to stay there? Again, the purchase price is the most important part. If you can keep your costs down with a low mortgage then your profits will be that much better. Make sure you tell the seller that the economy is horrible and they better take your offer while it’s still on the table. 😉
  3. Buy stocks – I’m not a big fan of mutual funds. I bought my first one when I was 14 and never had great success. In essence you’re paying extra to have someone pick stocks for you and put them in a nice, neat little package. Do your homework. Learn about the stock market and particularly business valuation. Read The Warren Buffett Way. Buy stocks that have more cash on hand then their current market capitalization and also have strong cashflow. If you want to be even safer, invest in ones that are still paying a dividend. Historically they generally fair the best.

Consider this for a minute – retail sales after Thanksgiving this year are up 7% over last year! That’s right, last year when the stock market was soaring and everyone was making money and unemployment was low we bought less stuff at Christmas sales then we did in this recessed year of 2008…  Hmmm… are you seeing the opportunities yet?

Don’t be that guy who remembers when Buffalo Wild Wings and Netflix were trading for $21/share and if you’d have only put a few bucks into those stocks you’d be rich now… If you still think I’m a bit “off”, since the sky is obviously falling, check out what the greatest investor in the world, Warren Buffet, thinks about the economy.

To your success in making 2009 your most profitable year yet, Bryan