Ever been at an airport and unintentional make a great business contact? It happened to me this week while waiting for a flight at O'Hare Airport. I had a conversation at a gate with some people. What's interesting about my new acquaintances was that they were ex-entrepreneurs that had sold their business and "retired". In a way this is the "holy grail" in business. Work hard, build a company and cash out.
Some things they said about their experience made me think of a movie: "On the street you wanna be makin' roves, you don't put anything in your life you can't walk out on in 30 flat if you spot heat the corner." Do you know this quote? Here's a hint - the title is in the text of the quote. The answer is Heat Heat is a great cops and robbers movie directed by Michael Mann. It's from a scene where Robert De Niro gives advice to Val Kilmer. I'm not digressing, this does circle back to my conversation at the airport.
The guy at the airport said he got the surprise offer to sell his company (a well know one) while he was at a routine meeting at his lawyer's office. He accepted the offer on the spot. Went to lunch, saw a movie, came back a couple of hours later and signed the paperwork. That's it, he didn't even go back to his company, not once! He carried out De Niro's advice, he walked out in 30 flat.
My goal is to build a business and have it grow so my employees and partners benefit. For the record - I have an exit strategy and want to cash out too...but not without being part of the transition to ensure employees and partners are left in a good way.
To contrast with my airport people, there was an article In today's New York Times about the founders of College Humor. College Humor is a successful, couple year old company/website dishing out sophmorically incorrect stuff...out of a dorm room. They boldly turned down a $9 Million dollar buy-out offer. Excellent role models!!!
"Walking in 30 flat" doesn't cut it for entrepreneurs....Sometimes it's not that you learn what to do, it's that you learn what not to do! Thank you Hollywood!
Look for Part 2 of this series shortly.