Business deals don’t just have a lot of moving parts, they have a lot of people. People with a lot to lose and people with a lot to gain. People who do this kind of thing for a living and are therefore unbothered by potential issues and people who’ve never bought or sold a business who think every small issue is a disaster. People who have to write very big checks and the people who are counting on those checks.
In any situation where you combine a lot of people and relatively high monetary stakes – drama is inevitable. There has probably never been a business transaction where everything was smooth and no one got upset.
Here’s why we bring this up. People who are going to buy a business and people who already own one are a tough bunch. You could call it type-A personality. You have to be strong, resilient, willing to make decisions and willing to take risks to be a successful entrepreneur. This personality, however, can be a bit of an issue when a business is changing hands.
Why? No ONE person can “win” in a business transaction.
The contract used for the sale of a business will end up being a very carefully crafted and heavily negotiated document. Heavily negotiated because businesses are inherently complex, and as such there are a lot of things to discuss and then decide on. How much is the buyer going to pay? Will there be financing of some sort? How will the lease be transferred? How will the licenses be transferred? What are the time frame and responsibilities for both parties during the training period? How long will the seller let the buyer have for due diligence? This list goes on and on.
The reality that essentially everything needs to not only be discussed but agreed upon as well means that neither side is going to get everything they want, exactly as they want it. Everyone, EVERYONE in the deal is going to have to make a few compromises if they want to get a deal done.
What this means for you if you’re a buyer or a seller is you can’t die on your sword every time something isn’t going your way. You can’t be petty about small things because you’re frustrated about something that has happened in the weeks or months that it takes to put a deal together. It means you can’t be petulant and difficult just because you feel like it.
At this point you’re probably saying “I’d never do that” – right? You might.
When a business changes hands, so does a lot of money. It’s a business that is someone’s blood, sweat and tears – and is getting handed to a complete stranger. The entire process can be long and incredibly stressful. It will be very hard for both sides of the table to always remain objective and not feel personally challenged during many parts of the process. You have to go into this knowing that your buttons will be pushed, your stress might get the better of you and your feelings might get hurt.
When that inevitably happens, don’t do this. Don’t make everyone change the time and place for a meeting last minute just because you want to be difficult on purpose. Don’t drag your feet with documentation that the other side has requested just because you think their questions are annoying. Although mildly entertaining for you in the moment, petty nonsense like this only wastes your own time and puts your own deal in jeopardy.
Power plays to “win” will do nothing but aggravate everyone in the deal – a deal that’s hard enough already and doesn’t need the additional drama. Go into your deal knowing that this process will be challenging, but worth it if you can remain patient.
Have you been in a business transaction where emotions got the better of someone and have an experience to share? Would you like to know more about the challenging parts of a business transaction? Leave any questions or comments, we would be happy to help.
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