Updated: Dec 16, 2019
Parents believe their children are beautiful. When was the last time you heard a mother comment on her newborn, “My daughter’s face is repulsive.” or “My son’s nose looks like a
twisted watermelon.” My guess is never. No, in fact, parents will swear that their children are the best-looking babies they've ever seen, whether it’s true or not. That's just what they do.
When your baby is your business
Just like parents, business owners swear that their business is the best-looking business they've ever seen. Some factors that contribute to an ‘UGLY BABY’ (a.k.a. the BUSINESS) include revenue, cash flow, market, outdated assets, EBITDA, and leadership.
Are there ways to make the BABY more attractive? Hell yes, but that's for another post.
It is tough hearing prospective buyers’ evaluations on your life’s work, especially if those evaluations are far below your own. It can be downright painful. This pain can be so great that it causes a primal reaction to occur called the Fight, Flight, Freeze response.
Normal human response
Many business owners develop an unhealthy identity that is based solely on their business. Their personal identity will feel like it’s under ATTACK when someone says anything negative about their business. That ATTACK will feel a thousand times worse when someone says the
company is not worth what the owner thinks it is (i.e. YOUR BABY IS UGLY). This ATTACK is their opinion, and unfortunately, the business owner incorrectly perceives this as a threat. What they are feeling in this context are anxiety and stress. The human body responds to perceived threats through the Fight, Flight, Freeze response. During this reaction, certain hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released. This can cause an increase in heart rate, blood flow to major muscle groups can shut down, and the nervous system can experience sudden dramatic changes. These reactions tend to give the body a burst of energy. That energy instantaneously flows to the Fight, Flight, Freeze response. You can learn more about the FFF response.
Here is how the Fight, Flight, or Freeze response works when you're selling your business, and a potential buyer says your asking price is too high.
If your natural response to threats is to FIGHT, you will get angry and demand that your asking price is met. You may drop a few F-bombs to get your point across and try with all your might to jam your opinion down their throat. You tend to lose objectiveness, and your
HOT emotions run the show until the potential buyer breaks off negotiations, or you dismiss the opportunity by saying, “I’m not going to give the business away!”
If your natural response to threats is to FLY away, you will quickly tell the potential buyer ‘thanks, but no thanks’ and never talk to them again. You fly back to your nest and stroke your baby’s head and say, “You’re not ugly, sweetie. I still love you.” This behavior can be especially dangerous if your BABY is killing you emotionally, financially and or spiritually.
If your natural response to threats is to FREEZE, you will linger around pretending to be in a real negotiation, asking the buyer confusing questions. You drag out the fake negotiation until the potential buyer walks away frustrated.
Here’s the reality
No one is ever going to look at your business the same way you do. If they buy it, they will most certainly fall in love with it as much (or even more) as you. They may learn to overlook some of the flaws or find ways to overcome them. However, during their evaluation (a.k.a. due diligence), expect them to stand up and point out every part of your BABY’S UGLINESS. Most people selling their business today have no idea what it’s worth.
After all, how does one go about placing a price tag on their life’s work?
Did you know that 50% of the knowledge you need to run your business in 5 years doesn't exist today?
Keep yourself up to date. There’s so much more to know and there’s so much we will share with you.