How to Sell a Lousy Business, Part II

Man in a blue tie dancing and surrounded by his clapping and happy officemates

My recent article, “How To Sell A Lousy Business” prompted more replies than any of the 250+ articles I have written in the past four years.

While I would like to think that the reason for this was the profound business wisdoms I shared in it…

…the real reason for the post’s popularity came down to one word.

That word, of course, is lousy.

As in, for better or worse, so many business men and women out there consider themselves as leading, or working at, or being connected to…

lousy businesses.

Characterized in the replies were two basic forms of this so-called lousiness.

The first form were those businesses very much filled with hope, promise, and technological advantage, but that just can’t seem to make any money.

The second were the “tired” businesses.

Their financial performance was not terrible – most of them had decent revenue bases and some profits – but had poor prospects for future growth and positive change.

They had a “caretaker” feel to them, with their managers mostly working in “respond and react” mode. When the usual stuff “came in the door” it got done, but true effort to create, sell, and do new stuff had become a distant memory.

In both cases that word “lousy” struck a chord.

Surprisingly, the chord struck for the most part were not requests for help as much as they were…

almost touching reach outs for some empathy!

As in “let me know that I am not the only one with a lousy business!

Or more poignantly, “that it isn’t my fault! I am dealing with so difficult business things – competitive, technological, personnel pressures and more – that my feelings of lousiness are justified!” 

Well my friends, the good news is that at least there is misery in company as the vast majority of businesses, by whichever scorecard we measure them on, really are lousy.

Most of them don’t make much money.

And those that do, usually have their innovative and high growth periods back in their business’s past.

And in both cases their most likely futures is just more of the same.

Those riding on hope will most likely not make money.

And the “tired” will not anytime soon conjure up and execute upon breakthrough change and growth initiatives.

But in a strange but understandable way, all of this “bleakness” is ok, natural and good

Because only when we just accept it, then and only then can we quiet our minds and truly focus on the best possible answers to our most important business questions like:

Should we try to sell our business to someone who can get more out of it than we can?

Or if our financial results are going to continue to be bleak, should we just cut our losses and close up shop?

Or pursue a hybrid and harvest as much cash as possible from those parts of our businesses that allow it, while carving out entirely new businesses for some possibility-filled “moonshots?

Moonshots like taking on the “the big boys” in our industry or even the world at large – becoming the next Amazon, Facebook, Google, et al.

Or smaller, but no less worthwhile moonshots like the goal of doubling revenues in the next three years.

Or even better, of tripling profits in that same time.

Now, even when we accomplish all of the above and more, our businesses probably will revert again to some “lousy” state.

But always the faith remains…

…that from any state of lousiness and despair rises the foundation of a new awesomeness.

Because while our businesses might at any point in time be lousy, we never are.

Is Your Business “Lousy?”

Is it not generating the kinds of profits that attract business suitors of all types?

Have a key business initiative you would like some fresh ideas on how to get done?

Well, then complete this short questionnaire and we’ll reach out with our thoughts to help you.

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