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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Build Your Business to Sell; Breaking Bad Style

*Editor's Note
There are no real spoilers here.  If you are catching up on Breaking Bad through Netflix, you can still read the article.  Or at least pretend to read it and tell me how great it was later.  
Also, I do not endorse illegal drug activity, lying to your family, or even karaoke.

Yes, the Breaking Bad hangover has officially begun.  Everyone will have to go back to watching bad reality television and stop going on and on to your friends how this was the best show ever.  Ever!
Now that I have that out of the way, one of the biggest issues I find with many entrepreneurs is that their business is also their retirement plan (I promise there is a segway coming.) This would be an okay plan if your business is in a position to be sold.  That's rarely the case. In fact, very few small businesses are ever sold.  
Let's take a look at a few of the reasons with Breaking Bad examples:
  • You must have a business that can survive without you
Initially, Walter White’s goal was to generate enough money for his family to live on when he was gone.  However, there was no real end game in mind.  So without the perfect chemist to create the signature product to sell, there was no business.  It would have been just an old RV and one goofy employee.
If you leave and the business flounders, there is no reason for someone to purchase it from you. 
Create systematic processes that can create income, without you constantly working in it.
  • The business does not show a profit
Skyler White was in charge of making sure the business used all of its “tax loopholes.”  And by loopholes, I mean money laundering. 
I’m often told by business owners that their business is profitable, however, their tax returns tell a different story.  It’s even a source of pride that they twist the IRS tax code like a pretzel.  While I’m all for keeping as much of your hard earned money as possible, there will always be a time to pay the piper.  If you are not showing a profit, you may not be paying taxes. And, you may not be selling your business.  Even if someone is willing to buy the business because of a wink and nod that profit is really there, the bank may not be willing to accept the wink and nod as collateral.
Be willing to show a profit on your tax returns with depreciation and owner’s draw as add-backs.
  • Having the wrong team
Jesse was a drug addict, Saul was shady, and Todd was scary.  And that is not even bringing Badger and Skinny Pete into the employee equation.  This is not a team of people you want to hire.  Or, even be with in the same room.
If you have employees that you are not even sure of, you can bet a potential buyer will feel the same way.
Make sure you have good employees, clear job descriptions, and even an organization chart.  A potential buyer wants a smooth operation where they do not have to completely re-train or retool the staff.
Remember, you are not simply in the money business; you are in the empire business. Have an A-1 Day!


  1. Very good advice. I have repeatedly encountered all of these characters wanting to sell. Another thing I would add is start planning a year or two prior to selling and get these things in order. Also get a good financial advisor to help structure handling of proceeds to minimize tax consequences.