How to Build a Business and Sell It for Millions

How to Build a Business and Sell It for Millions

by Jack Garson


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How to Build a Business and Sell It for Millions by Jack Garson


Finally, the positive economic news every businessperson is waiting to hear. Jack Garson says the long economic downturn will give way to a major buying spree by cash-rich companies—and they could be in the market to purchase your small or medium-sized business. It's the ultimate payday for everyone who wants to live the American dream, whether they're starting a business or already own one. Millions of dollars are on the table. But will you and your business be ready?

How to Build a Business and Sell it for Millions is a must-read for every business owner and would-be entrepreneur. In entertaining and elaborate detail, Garson outlines the vital moves your company needs to make to become an attractive acquisition by other firms:

· Do you have a competitive edge that sets you apart from your competition?

· Are both you and your company sustainable and able to outlast the bad times to become a success?

· Can you stop being a "Derek," the boss who suffers from "Founder's Dilemma," micromanaging everything big and small?

How to Build a Business and Sell it for Millions uses real life examples to explain how the goal of selling your company needs to be linked to every business decision you make: hiring, compensation, contracts, financial reporting and dozens of other areas often overlooked by busy entrepreneurs. While many business owners struggle to get to the next day, Garson has the inside scoop on achieving the opportunity of a lifetime— selling your company for vast riches.

In How to Build a Business and Sell It for Millions, MBA meets Main Street, with a combination of inspiration and invaluable practical advice.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312573546
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 08/02/2011
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jack Garson writes from the trenches of the business world. As founder of Garson Claxton LLC and leader of his law firm's business group, Jack has guided companies from start-up all the way to the celebration dinner following the big sale. His extensive understanding of the business world is why he's sought after to be the lead negotiator in multi-million dollar sales of companies. Jack also serves as legal and strategic advisor for numerous national, regional and local companies, helping them overcome challenges, grow, succeed and sell.

In addition, Jack is a director of the prestigious Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Airports Authority, which oversees Dulles International and Washington Reagan National Airports. He writes a monthly column for SmartCEO magazine, a leading business publication in the Washington, D.C. region. Jack graduated with honors from both the George Washington University National Law Center and the University of Maryland.

Read an Excerpt


Planning to Sell

Putting the Horse in Front of the Cart

America has hunkered down. People have cut back wherever they can. Folks are brown-bagging lunch—if they still have a job. They’re cutting their own lawns and one another’s hair. Families take in-home “staycations” instead of trips to Disneyland.

Your moment has arrived.

You may have always wanted to start your own company. You may have just gotten fired and have no other choice but to go into business for yourself. You may have a business that isn’t growing and needs fixing.

Perfect timing.

Building and selling your own business has always been one of the greatest paths to wealth. Now it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. This is the best time in decades to plunge in. As the economy revives there will be pent-up demand for what businesses have to sell. Better still, people with briefcases full of money will be clamoring to buy those businesses.

But it’s not enough to build your business now and worry about selling it later. From day one, you need to know what buyers want to buy and then create it. You shouldn’t knock yourself out for years building a business only to discover you can’t sell it. Planning to sell—from that very first day—is putting the horse in front of the cart.

The Coming Boom:

Making Your Fortune in Business

The next big thing in business is starting your own company, building it up, and selling it for a bundle. When real estate crumbled in the early 1990s, investors ultimately turned to technology companies and created the dot-com boom. When that boom went crash, investors renewed their love affair with real estate—and thus was born condomania. It felt like there were more construction cranes in Miami and Las Vegas than tourists. Now stocks and real estate have plunged once again. Battered investors are not about to fall madly in love with either of them for a while. Personally, I’d rule out comic books, baseball cards, and Beanie Babies, too.

Making money the old-fashioned way, by starting a business, growing it like crazy, and then cashing out, is about to come back into style.

If you’re wondering if the timing is right, consider this: At this writing we are in the worst recession since the Great Depression. Throughout history, though, some of the most successful businesses were created in the most difficult of times. General Electric was formed by Thomas Edison during the six-year recession called the Panic of 1873. Disney began business in the recession of 1923– 24. Hewlett-Packard was started at the end of the Great Depression. It only stands to reason that a company that succeeds in dire circumstances—when so many others fail—will thrive in normal times and excel in boom times.

Now consider the buyers of businesses. In recessions, they conserve cash and maybe even run out of it. Certainly they get cautious. So they slow down and even stop buying businesses. Coming out of a recession, they’re looking for steals. They start buying companies again—but just the best businesses and only at bargain prices. Buyers make a killing off those early deals. Then, pumped up by those lucrative returns, they broadcast their success to attract acclaim and investors. Thus the gold rush begins. Other buyers stampede onto the scene, looking to strike it rich buying companies.

The business sales in the next few years will bring on a mad dash of buyers and deals that get better and better for sellers. If you start now, you’ll be in a position to sell at an extraordinary time.

Planning to Sell

Planning to sell is all about building—from the very start—a business that people want to buy. The folks who purchase companies don’t want a business where every customer asks for you and you’re long gone. They certainly don’t want a business that, as harsh as it sounds, dies with you. They want an enduring institution, a reliable moneymaking machine that will grow and last.

Of course, you don’t need to build up your business or sell it. You can run your business so that it meets your everyday desires, whether that means golf every afternoon and poker every night or just enough money for Cheez-Its, lottery tickets, and cable television. They even have a name for that type of business—a “lifestyle business,” because it prioritizes your lifestyle over your company. You can run your business like a hobby. You can live a decent life as chief bottle washer and cook. You can even put a bullet in your business when you retire. Life is full of choices.

But to get all of the possible value out of your business—to increase the chance you’ll achieve enormous wealth—you need to build something that you can sell. You need to create something that buyers compete to buy.

Buyers look for a lot of things, but at the very top of the list are the following:

PROFITABILITY: A business that consistently makes money. Ideally your profits increase every year.

COMPETITIVE EDGE: A business that beats the competition. Face it: once you’re making money, you’ll attract rivals. Buyers want to make sure that competitors can’t duplicate your success or cut into your profits.

SCALABILITY: A business that can grow bigger. Buyers want to increase the size, revenues, and profits of your company. The decisions you make from the outset, from how you form your company, to the equipment you buy, to the brand you establish, all affect “scalability”—the future ability to grow your business. If you want to sell for big bucks, you need a company that can get big.

SUSTAINABILITY: A business that can make it through adversity. You may not have enough capital. You may not back up your computers. You may not even have employees who can do your job if you get sick. But if your company can’t withstand a few disasters, you’ll never be in a position to survive, much less sell. Buyers don’t want a company that tumbles like a house of cards in the first heavy breeze. They’re only going to pay a lot if you’ve built a company that can make it through tough times.

There’s more. There’s picking the right legal structure for your business, creating financial systems so you can manage your business, avoiding unnecessary risks, preparing good contracts, marketing, government relations—and more. There’s learning the way businesses are sold, how to assemble the deal team to sell your company, and how to negotiate the sale itself—and more.

Building a business, overcoming problems, and selling your company present countless challenges. But you don’t have to do it the hard way.

The Easy Hard Way

I’ve seen sweat on the foreheads of great business leaders struggling with momentous decisions. I’ve sat in thousands of boardrooms and business meetings where entrepreneurs agonized over issues that would determine the fate of their companies. I’ve seen their responses yield victories and defeats. In the lessons that follow, you’ll see and learn from their successes and failures.

With the guidance in this book you can learn how to build a business that sells. This is the insider’s guide to what works and what doesn’t—what you need and what you need to avoid. Selling a business can be hard. But it’s not hard to sell a good business.

Excerpted from How to Build a Business and Sell It for Millions by .

Copyright © 2010 by Jack Garson.

Published in March 2010 by St. Martin’s Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

1 Planning to Sell 1

Putting the Horse in Front of the Cart

2 Profitable Business Model 6

Making Money Every Time

3 Your Competitive Edge 14

What Makes You So Special?

4 Scalability 17

Because Size Does Matter

5 Bench Strength 24

Your Executive Team

6 Sustainability 32

Surviving Until You Succeed

7 Personal Sustainability 41

Playing Until You Win

8 The Vision Thing 45

Having One and Sharing It

9 Values and Culture 51

Profit Rules

10 Overcoming Self-Destructiveness 61

Your Worst Enemy

11 Inc., LLC, or Partnership 68

The Right Structure for Your Business

12 Financial Reports and Forecasts 80

Where You've Been, How You're Doing, and Where You're Going

13 Payday 89

Yours and Your Employees'

14 Risk Management and Compliance 100

Avoiding Bad Stuff

15 Implementation 109

Better to Implement a Good Plan Than Seek a Perfect One

16 Contracts 113

Because a Handshake Won't Do

17 Marketing 121

It's Not Who You Are. It's Who They Think You Are

18 Government Relations 126

Making Friends in High Places

19 Don't be a Competition Factory 130

Carrots and Sticks

20 Letting Go 137

Can you?

21 For Sale 141

An Overview

22 Key Terminology: 101 145

Talking the Talk

23 Investment Bankers 153

Dealing with the Deal Makers

24 Surveying the Market 160

Identifying Prospective Buyers

25 The Price 165

Valuation Methods versus Your Guess Is as Good as Mine

26 The Book on Your Business 173

What Your Company Needs to Be a Bestseller

27 Dogs, Ponies, and the Deal Team 179

Taking Your Show on the Road

28 The Best Way to Sell Your Company 185

The Art of Creating an Auction

29 Strengthening Your Bargaining Power 190

Boosting Your Leverage

30 The Letter of Intent 192

Picking a Winning Battleground

31 The Deal 197

What's in it for you?

32 Tax Consequences 203

The Deal within the Deal

33 Post-Sale Terms 207

The Deal after the Deal

34 The Documents 213

Praying over Commas

35 Due Diligence 219

The Business Version of a Cavity Search

36 The Deal's Done Being Renegotiated 224

Beware the Retrade

37 Dead Deals 230

Picking Up the Pieces

38 Last-Minute Surprises 233

What the Hell!?

39 The Closing 237

Great Expectations

40 Now What? 241

Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here?

Index 245

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How to Build a Business and Sell It for Millions 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
jkc-nj More than 1 year ago
Brilliant! This is a must read for every stage of business ownership. Without being pedantic or sugar-coating hard truths, Garson explains how to do it right, the first time. This eminently readable work contains a wealth of information, including who and what you need on your side to maximize your potential for success and avoid common pitfalls.
ChristineFlowers More than 1 year ago
When I initially opened my floral shop 5 years ago I read many books to help get me started. I wish How To Build a Business and Sell It for Millions had existed back then. Jack Garson has written one of the best business books I've ever read. (I was fortunate to get a sneak peak). I'm proud to say we've done pretty well, but the recession has been hard on all of us. What makes Garson's book phenomenal is its ability to help your company, whether you've been around for years, or you're just starting. With help from Garson's real life stories about what works and what doesn't, I've revised my business plan, my business philosophy and how I run my company. While many books get you up and running, "How to Build a Business and Sell It For Millions" gets you to the finish line. Everyone wants a successful business, but what's more important to me is being able to create, maintain and then hopefully sell a flourishing company so I can pursue other dreams. None of the other business books offer the entire perspective, from start to-finish. Garson is humorous, he's understandable and he's right on the money. The organization and writing style of this book are great and allow me to quickly focus on the individual lessons I need to learn and see how they fit into the larger picture. It's not just a business book you feel you have to read,  you actually look forward to reading it. That's something you rarely find in a book of this genre. A chapter that really resonated with me was about one of Garson's clients. His philosophy: if you take care of the employees, the employees will take care of the customers, and the customers will take care of the business. It's those kinds of insightful lessons that help your business succeed, in good times and bad. I can't thank Garson enough for this book!
Randian More than 1 year ago
How to Build a Business and Sell It For Millions is an excellent addition to the new entrepreneurs library. This book is better than its' title. It covers many of the lessons learned from both successful and failed attempts to build and sell new companies. It is told through entertaining true stories describing firms aided by the author, who is a strategic and legal advisor. The book succinctly describes many of the key issues that must be addressed by their owners. Following the advice provided in this book will not guarantee success, but ignoring the issues it addresses could easily lead to failure or an unsatisfactory outcome. Garson covers key issues in building and selling a business in 40 short chapters. Each chapter focuses on one major issue such as business law, scalability, contracts, retaining top employees, investment bankers, valuing your company, etc. Each topic is covered briefly, highlighting key points for further research. I enthusiastically recommend this deceptively useful book.
MLaurence09 More than 1 year ago
Everyone who has a business or is thinking of starting a business needs to read How to Build a Business and Sell It for Millions by Jack Garson. I was incredibly fortunate to get my hands on an advanced copy and it couldn't have come at a better time. Between the economy and my own miscues, I've been facing sleepless nights trying to make sure we're still in business tomorrow. Garson's book not only gives me the knowledge to overcome our short-term problems; it helps me position my company for long term success--right up to the day we sell. This is an outstanding read. Fast-paced and genuinely funny, Garson mixes his entertaining writing style with his vast expertise to deliver powerful insights about becoming a successful entrepreneur. In the first 20 chapters, Garson draws on real life examples to show readers how to build their company the right way, or fix the one they already own. There's Fritz, who started with hundreds of thousands of dollars when he really needed millions. Without sustainability, Fritz's business won't last long enough to achieve success. Derek suffers from the all-too-familiar Founder's Dilemma-the boss who has to oversee every job, big and small. Unable to delegate, he's also unable to grow his company. And then there are brothers Harold and Tommy, who built a profitable business, only to find out years later they can't sell because they picked the wrong corporate structure at the outset. In lesson after lesson, Garson's eyes are never off the prize of selling. Will your lease let a new buyer take over? What about your contracts with key employees? Are you ready to let go of the company you've spent years building? The answers are here. Even if your goal isn't to cash in, Garson's knowledge will vastly improve your company. In the second 20 chapters, Garson shares his insider's knowledge on the rewarding and often challenging road to the sale. There are eye-opening lessons on everything from how to "talk the talk" and understand key terminology, to dealing with last minutes surprises, a chapter Garson amusingly subtitles "What the Hell!?" There's even a chapter on how to deal with life, post-sale. We should all be so lucky. With Jack Garson's book, we have a much better chance. The reward may be closer than most of us imagine. Right from the start, Garson offers an upbeat economic prediction. He says the current economic downturn is poised to give way to a major business acquisition spree by cash-rich companies. According to Garson, "this is best time in decades" for those who have started, built and now want to sell their companies. It's time to get rolling. It's time to read this book. Even if you never plan to sell, this book will help your business. Garson's credentials are impeccable. He's an acclaimed business attorney and leading business advisor in the Washington, DC area. He knows the secrets and the steps to achieve success. Now with How to Build a Build a Business and Sell It for Millions, Jack Garson shares his wisdom, ingenuity and skill-and we can all be the richer for it.
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AFernandez More than 1 year ago
What I most enjoyed about this book is that it's applicable to anyone from a college graduate contemplating starting their own business to the savviest of business owners. Managing a business is a marathon, not a sprint. And Jack Garson makes good on the book's title - if you are thorough and have the lung capacity, you can build a business and sell it for millions.
DC_RMcDonald More than 1 year ago
This was a great read. I have recently begun to think more seriously about building a business of my own but did not know where to start. After reading Jack's book I feel so much more prepared for the obstacles that present themselves during the process. I realize that I need to do a lot more research and work before I can get my business up and running successfully. There is so much planning that goes on in the process. The supplementary videos I found on Jack Garson's website,, were also extremely useful. As I read through the chapters it was great to have the videos to reference back to and delve deeper into some of the material. I am truly excited to start my business and very grateful to have come upon a resource as influential How to Build a Business and Sell It for Millions.
CharlesJ More than 1 year ago
I have just finished Jack Garson's new book, "HOW TO BUILD A BUSINESS AND SELL IT FOR MILLIONS". As today's young people might say, "it's a hoot". As a former college business teacher, and because of its wit, humor and experiential insights, I would highly recommend Garson's book as a supplemental text in any of the business development or entrepreneurial courses being taught in today's business schools.
Terps4ever More than 1 year ago
Very informative book.....loved all the case studies on how people either succeeded or crashed and burned. Although I wasn't familiar with alot of the business terms in the book, the author fully explained them. Anyone thinking of starting a business or selling a current business should make this must reading!!"
KenR_NC More than 1 year ago
Small business is the only business for many of us, and running a small business is beginning to make sense for even more of us. Having been involved in the smallest micro-enterprise to the largest corporations, I wish I had Jack's book twenty years ago. I would have avoided so many of the common mistakes that I now chalk up to experience, but would have rather read about in advance instead of learning the hard ( and expensive) way. Jack spells out the pitfalls, the planning and the payoffs of making your business work, in ways that invoke common sense and avoid common mistakes.
RCBrown More than 1 year ago
Drawing on a wealth of experience gained over many years of successfully advising his own clients, Jack Garson has put together a marvelous manual that any business owner will find invaluable. Many "how-to" books are too academic or, worse, written by people who know less than their readers do. Garson is not such an author. Divided into short chapters, with many topics illuminated by examples drawn from Garson's own law practice, the book is easy and enjoyable to read. Every page is rich with helpful tips and advice based on Garson's real-world experience advising real clients. Business owners who have themselves had occasion to use lawyers know that the world has two kinds of lawyers: those who see all the problems and stop, and those who see the problems and figure out ways to solve them. Garson is the latter kind of lawyer. For those who can't actually retain him as their personal counsel, reading his wise advice is a worthy substitute.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cmkulp More than 1 year ago
It sounds crazy, starting a business in this recession. But Jack Garson makes the case in his book, "How to Build A Business and Sell It For Millions." The book is easy to read, insightful, and offers interesting stories from real people about their successes and pitfalls. The more I read it, the more I've now thought about starting my own business. It's a book that I will refer to countless times, especially if I am lucky enough to build and then sell a business. So many times, people jump into business feet first without doing their research and making a plan. Read this book before you do anything!
jlmnyc1 More than 1 year ago
Just read a prerelease copy. Great book. Quick read. If you are an aspiring an entrepreneur this is a must read. The book gives great , detailed insight based on Jack's extensive experience dealing with organizations from start up to success.
DaveOConnell More than 1 year ago
"Insightful" is the best word to describe Garson's manual for the aspiring Horatio Algers of the world. Garson's entrepreneurial insight is most evident in his chapter on finding the "Right" Investment Banker. Negotiating fees upfront with your banker is of paramount importance. I have been down this difficult road myself, and wish I had read this book at age 21.
EM_TN More than 1 year ago
I was fortunate to receive an advance release copy of this book (manual for success) last week. I wish I had received it years ago! For any business owner, or aspiring business owner, this book is a must read. Garson's literary style is extremely easy to follow; his experiences are relevant and delivered with a humorous/anecdotal tone that is relatable to a wide audience. The reader will gain insight into complex transactions from the eyes and ears of those in the trenches (corporate counsel). Most importantly, the reader will take away some priceless experiences and strategies to implement in their own future endeavors.
Lisa_NYC80 More than 1 year ago
This is the course they need to teach in business school. As a recent MBA, I have to thank Jack Garson for showing me how business works in the real world. In How to Build a Business and Sell It for Millions, Garson explains, step-by-step, how to turn my dream of owning a business into a reality. Compelling and comprehensive, this is the only book I've seen that explains the need to always be working toward an end game-the sale-right from the very beginning. The better my business is established and runs, the more it makes-the more attractive it is to potential buyers.  While it may seem like a simple formula, Garson is wise enough to lay out the many potential pitfalls, and explains how to avoid self-inflicted wounds. I'm one of the lucky ones. I got a job out of school-but who knows how long it will last. At least now I understand the struggles my employers face-and don't fear what might come next. Armed with Garson's insights, I'm ready to build my own business-and sell it for millions. Now I really feel like I've earned my MBA.