Selling a Business: Why I Stopped Listening to What Other People Believe
Even well-intentioned advice can be the very thing that holds us back from achieving what seems impossible.
A year ago, the world upended in the wake of Covid-19. I’d owned and operated my brick-and-mortar business for nearly four years, and within weeks had to shut its doors to the public. Like so many small companies, we scrambled to find a way to continue serving customers without foot traffic.
What made ours slightly different from most was that we sold custom batches of wine, made on the premises, so there were a number of legalities regarding how we could sell. For example, legally, a customer had to physically be in the store to start the process (i.e., purchasing the wine and sprinkling the yeast). Then, once the wine was ready for bottling, customers had to assist in that process as well. So, selling our wine online wasn’t an option at first.
To make things yet more interesting, we had been considering selling the store even before the pandemic. All four partners had different visions, goals and priorities, so selling seemed like the best option. But, in that fraught time, such a prospect seemed impossible.
Related: This Is How Small-Business Owners Can Thrive in a Post-Pandemic World
We also had no idea how long the virus wave was going to last. No one did, and many advised us that no one would buy a brick-and-mortar business with so much uncertainty in the market. Logically, that made sense.
I’m an optimist at heart, but all this had me questioning what was possible, until my husband sat me down and said, “If there is anyone who can sell this store, it’s you”. That was the push and motivation I needed to focus on what I needed to do. Within a week of that conversation, I sent an email to our customer base of 700 announcing the difficult decision we’d made, and in less than 48 hours had ten interested buyers!
Further advice we got included, “Beware of the tire kickers”, and “Beware of the noisy customers just wanting information”. And I get it: such observations reflected a natural tendency to look at worst-case scenario and offer cautionary counsel. I began meeting with prospective buyers while continuing to operate the company to keep sales up. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to sell a business or what it entailed. All I knew was I needed to keep sales strong to show prospective buyers that the pandemic wasn’t affecting us badly. Luckily, in time the government lifted regulations, allowing us to sell online and bottle wine for customers.
Most of the prospective buyers were interested, but one was particularly eager to seal the deal, and two and a half months later, the sale was final and we transferred ownership. (Anyone who has sold a business knows the process typically takes longer.)
It’s the logical mind that holds us back from believing anything is possible — limits that often restrict us from achieving things — and in those two and a half months, many people told me not to get my hopes up…that the deal could fall through at the last moment. And in fairness, those things could have happened, but didn’t.
This is why I no longer listen to what other people believe is possible, because if I did, I never would have sold my store at the height of a global pandemic, at a time when hundreds of thousands of small businesses didn’t survive.
To me, the key takeaway is that when people tell you something isn’t doable, it’s likely them projecting what they believe is possible for themselves. It has nothing to do with you and what you can achieve. It’s also highly driven by the logical mind of what’s been proven already or already supposedly exists to be true, and the problem with logic is, if we always lived in that realm, endeavors like traveling to space wouldn’t be considered possible. Now, it’s being reported in entrepreneur.com that the first hotel in space, Voyager Station, will open in 2027!
So, if you’re trying to defy the odds, remember that no one truly knows what’s achievable. The limits other people apply might be the very thing that holds you back.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor