Resources for Buying and Selling Online Businesses

How To Retire in 10 Years


Jodie Cook

Jodie Cook is a writer, entrepreneur, and athlete. At age 22 she started a digital marketing agency and sold it ten years later. She is the author of Ten Year Career: reimagine business, design your life, fast track your freedom, and Stop Acting Like You’re Going To Live Forever, where she empowers entrepreneurs to run a business that can thrive in any crisis. She co-wrote How To Raise Entrepreneurial Kids, where she introduces the four pillars to set children up for success, and the children’s series Clever Tykes storybooks and resources for entrepreneurial education.

Jodie is a regular contributor for Forbes on entrepreneurship and competes for Great Britain in powerlifting.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [04:20] Jodie Cook details the series of fortunate events on her path from entrepreneur to writer
  • [09:07] Why executing and systematizing social media platforms can be difficult to grow on your own
  • [12:52] Creating a plan to bridge the gap between expansion and systemizing
  • [18:03] Jodie explains the “scrutinize” process and the decisions many entrepreneurs face
  • [22:37] How journaling can provide a sense of balance and opportunity to your entrepreneurial journey
  • [26:53] Being intentional about exiting your business
  • [32:50] Jodie talks about initiating chemistry calls to funnel potential buyers for her business
  • [37:11] Why an effective sales process and team can create a smooth transition during an exit

In this episode…

Building a business can be confusing for entrepreneurs. How can you know exactly the right moves to make at your stage? If you could reimagine your business to achieve greater success in less time, would you?

According to Jodie Cook, you can have the financial freedom and time you desire. She crafted the Ten Year Career framework’s four pillars to scale and exit your business: execute, systemize, scrutinize and exit. Being able to see your business as a product — to take a step back and see it from a different perspective — can help you move forward during the exit process.

In this episode of the Quiet Light Podcast, Joe Valley sits down with Jodie Cook, author and entrepreneur, to discuss implementing a plan of action to scale your business and exit for success. Jodie talks about how to delegate for expansion, minimize the challenges entrepreneurs face, and be intentional when creating an exit strategy. Stay tuned!

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by MyAmazonGuy, an Amazon agency to help level up your PPC, SEO, Design, and manage your entire Amazon catalog.

This episode is also brought to you by Quiet Light, a brokerage firm that wants to help you successfully sell your online business.

There is no wrong reason for selling your business. However, there is a right time and a right way. The team of leading entrepreneurs at Quiet Light wants to help you discover the right time and strategy for selling your business. By providing trustworthy advice, effective strategies, and honest valuations, your Quiet Light advisor isn’t your every-day broker—they’re your partner and friend through every phase of the exit planning process.

If you’re new to the prospect of buying and selling, Quiet Light is here to support you. Their plethora of top-notch resources will provide everything you need to know about when and how to buy or sell an online business. Quiet Light offers high-quality videos, articles, podcasts, and guides to help you make the best decision for your online business.

Not sure what your business is really worth? No worries. Quiet Light offers a free valuation and marketplace-ready assessment on their website. That’s right—this quick, easy, and free valuation has no strings attached. Knowing the true value of your business has never been easier!

What are you waiting for? Quiet Light is offering the best experience, strategies, and advice to make your exit successful. To learn more, go to, email [email protected], or call 800.746.5034 today.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:07

Hi folks. It’s the Quiet Light Podcast where we share relentlessly honest insights, actionable tips, and entrepreneurial stories that will help founders identify and reach their goals.

Joe Valley  0:32

Hey folks, Joe Valley here, welcome to a another episode of the Quiet Light Podcast. today’s podcast is sponsored by My Amazon Guy. I know the founder, Steven Pope personally, and you may have seen him all over YouTube sharing free educational content. If you need someone to level up your PPC, SEO, design, and manage your entire Amazon catalog, check them out at Okay, so today’s podcast is with someone that went from 22 to 32, building a business and exiting it and does not have to work again for the rest of her life. She’s just published her 20th book. And no, that’s not her business. That’s just her side gig. And she is in this particular book, she’s called the 10 Year Career. And she’s helping people plan out through the book and through their entrepreneurial journeys, how to be done in 10 years, she’s done it herself, she’s helped a lot of other people do it as well. And if you implement what she talks about in the book, then you can have the same path. Now you could be done and not work in 10 years, or you could just go on to your next adventure, knowing that you are financially free. She breaks things down in a way that makes complete and total sense. For instance, probably 60 65% of you listening are still in the execute phase of your business of your entrepreneurial journey. You’re working on the business, you’re grinding it out, you’re just the name the face, your without you, the business is not going to last for two weeks. If you go away for two weeks, things are going to start to fall apart because no one can do what you’re doing. You got to get beyond that into what she’s called the systemize phase. It’s what she did. That enabled her to step back from running her agency and this was a social media agencies that she operated, allowed her to step back and run the agency from afar. She was no longer the name the face the initial person that clients talk to the one managing the website doing these different things. And for about six years she traveled and did whatever she wanted to she’s she’s a powerlifter as well. She’s won some championships, power lifters. She represents the UK and some events and things of that nature. And she’s like five to like you would never know when you when you look at her. If you have if you have a if you’re listening check it out on video as well on YouTube. But then it gets into a couple of different sections scrutinize and exit. So you’ve got execute systemize. Scrutinize and exit we go into details on all of them. She tells her journey, her story, some incredible advice. All along the way. Her name is Jodie Cook. It’s called the 10 Year Career. You can have one to just pick up a copy of the book. Listen to what she’s got to say here. It will help you dramatically. Here we go. Jodie Cook. Welcome to the Quiet Light Podcast. How are you?

Jodie Cook  3:35

Hey, Joe, thank you for having me. I’m amazing.

Joe Valley  3:38

So good to have you here. Whereabouts in the world. Are you at the moment?

Jodie Cook  3:42

I’m in Lisbon, Portugal, and I’ve been here for about a week so far.

Joe Valley  3:46

About a week. Good for you and but you from the UK folks in case you’re listening to the to the accent. We’ve got one gentleman over there on the team. David Newell great guy. Don’t ask me exactly where because I can’t remember. Sorry, David, you’ve told me 20 times and I still can’t remember. Congratulations on what is your 20th Book 10 year career. It’s quite a milestone just to write one book is crazy. I know it’s a lot of work. The 20th That’s pretty impressive.

Jodie Cook  4:14

Yeah, I really love writing books, as it turns out, which is good. But they started off as journal entries to myself when I was running a business. And I was just processing all the mess that was going on in my head when I was hiring and firing in getting clients and losing clients and figuring it all out. So I’d write journal entries about what I was going through. And then through a series of fortunate events, I got a contributor slot on Forbes. And that’s when I started turning those journal entries into articles for entrepreneurs. And then that thought that felt really raw and vulnerable writing this stuff out there. But then I got such good feedback that I just carried on and then they turned into a bunch of articles and then articles turned into books and then they were 20

Joe Valley  4:58

But you’re not just a writer. You’re an entrepreneur and 10 year career comes from all of your years. It’s really not that many years in terms of being an entrepreneur, building your own agency and exiting to the point where you really don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do for the rest of your life, you’re very well off financially from the sale is, is it? Let’s, I mean, let’s just cut to the chase 10 years can almost anybody that pays attention, does the right thing, have a 10 year career and then do whatever the hell they want for the rest of their life, just like you’re doing now. Think so? Because I wish it I mean, if that’s the case, why didn’t you write this book when I was 20? That’s what I want to know. Sorry, probably because I wouldn’t have paid attention to it. I wouldn’t have read the damn thing. We just talked about that a little bit that people don’t, you know, read the books, they want a piece of the author and talk to the author and whatnot. But yeah, so talk to us about the point of the book and and the steps that people can go through to really have the outcome that that they want to have in their career.

Jodie Cook  6:02

I think that looking back, it’s so much easier to create a pattern and a framework and a story out of everything that happened. I don’t think when I was 22, starting an agency, I thought, oh, I can build it and sell it and then not have to work within 10 years. I don’t think that was what I was even imagined was possible. But I feel like someone now at the start of their journey, could aspire to that and could get it done if they did the right things in the right order. And doing the right thing in the right order is a really big part of the book. So the four step framework is execute systemize, scrutinize and exit. And if you follow those four steps and do those things at the right time, I think it would set up any entrepreneur pretty well to have an exit on their terms, that they that means that they don’t have to work again. Why exit? Well, yeah, you don’t have to exit, you could step back, you could continue to own the asset, and you could have someone else run it. I know from my situation with my agency, I don’t think I would have found that. Easy. I think that you need to search strong brand boundaries as to when you can be tapped on the shoulder and when you absolutely can’t be tapped on the shoulder. And then you have to be okay to let fires burn maybe because if you have exited to the point where you own but you don’t run the company, you can’t just get involved at every opportunity, because then it undermines your team who are looking after everything. So you don’t have to accept but I think it’s a very good thing to do, as you know,

Joe Valley  7:34

well, yeah, I asked you facetiously. But you’re right, I’ve talked to people that have elevated themselves to the Board of Directors, they’ve got a CEO, CTO, CMO, also to acronyms, but somehow they’re still involved. You know, as I think about the next phase of my career, here at quiet light, you know that that makes a whole lot of sense, because we’ve got a great team that would eventually step up and want to move into a new role. And of course, the exiting people make more money when they exit than they generally do running the business. And that’s all yours in the history of the business. But all businesses are slightly different. Thinking about those four steps, look at the challenge. Let’s just talk about the challenge of entrepreneurs because we’re both entrepreneurs. So if, if I speak ill of us some speaking, you know, truthfully, we were scattered we, we just try to keep the wheels on the bus, we’re just trying to get the business going. We’re not thinking about systematizing. We’re not thinking about exiting, we’re just trying to keep business alive. At what point? Do people or shoot would you recommend if they truly want to have the shortened career to be able to then do whatever the hell they want? And maybe it’s to continue to run that business that they’ve built and love that? At what point should they really focus on these four steps? I think

Jodie Cook  9:02

from the get go from day one. I feel like the reason why execute is probably the most important and also the most fun. Let’s face it, because you’re saying yes, you’re doing the stuff you’re setting up, you’re testing stuff out, you’re seeing what works. And you’re probably involved in every step of your business, if not a massive like bottleneck and you’re in charge of nearly everything. It just does not run without you. I think that’s the time where it’s so easy to get distracted. Start a side project and do anything other than just work on getting your business off the ground. And so getting your business off the ground for me involves three things. It’s your flagship product or service, just one not like a bazillion different offerings and all their own landing pages just one your target audience so you know your exact customer avatar and again, just one it’s like marketing managers not marketing manager And entrepreneurs and these people and these people just want. And then the third is the channel through which you reach them. And again, just one. So I totally did this by accident. But in the early stages of my business, we were selling social media management, to marketing managers through networking. And that was it. And I feel like the goal of the execute phase is just to get that right. And then once you have that, right, and you know that it’s growing, that’s when you can move to systemize stuff, knowing that as you are Systemising, your business will still be growing. And then systemize is a whole other section, which involves a whole other load of challenges

Joe Valley  10:39

systemize, so that you can grow and take on more of the same clients or expand your your type of client base? Well, kind

Jodie Cook  10:47

of both. So if you’ve completed the execute phase, well, then you know, you’ve got something that is in demand stands up to questioning that you’re proud of that works. And so that’s required when you go through to systemize. Because this demise is not really going to make you money, it’s probably going to cost you money, and you need to see it as an investment. So the idea is that as you write down, every process that happens within your business, to be able to automate delegate, eliminate, your business is still continuing to grow while you’re spending this bunch of extra time doing it. Oh, those

Joe Valley  11:21

are part of the systemized part, right? Automate delegate eliminate, yeah, yeah, in other words grow up, right and otherwise, right for me,

Jodie Cook  11:31

for me, when I got to this stage, and maybe people listening can relate, but I was, well in the trenches of the execute phase. Everything that happened in my business went by me I was, I was the main point of contact for every single client, I was doing. All the marketing myself, I was doing all the prospecting myself, I was going through all the events, I was speaking at the events, I was even you what this is so embarrassing, I was creating invoices on Microsoft Word every month, and emailing them manually declined, because they didn’t even realize that zero was a thing, they didn’t use anything like that. So there were so many processes that were meaning that I was not only doing them all, but I was crazy busy doing them all. And I could not see an end to it. I felt like I couldn’t go on holiday. And so I kind of affectionately refer to this as the charity show. But the thing that marked going from execute to systemize was working out that this God show was completely unsustainable. I wanted to take a holiday, and I had to do something about it. So for me, this was a table of fancy Microsoft Excel table with four columns. And the first was every single process that happened in my business. The second was, who did the process now, which was just me, and anyone listening, that’s an execute, they probably do all the processes in their business as well. The third was, who should do it in the future. This was either someone who was already in my team, it was the name of a role I was going to hire, it was a software that I was going to use to automate it, or it was just don’t do it, because it just didn’t need to be done in the first place. And then the fourth column was the plan of when I was going to make this happen. So that was the kind of plan that bridged the gap between execute and systemize.

Joe Valley  13:11

How long did it take you to come up with that, like, as busy as you are in the execute phase, you don’t have time for holiday, you don’t have time for much of anything, except doing those invoices in Microsoft Word and emailing them manually every year, or every month? Yeah, sitting down and doing what you did was systematize makes a whole lot of sense. Because ultimately, it’s going to free up your time and allow you to expand the business and have a life at the same time and eventually get to that last phase which is exit, which is where the money is. But like, it’s quite the process. So thank you for doing it, I guess, let’s talk about how long it would take for somebody reading the book or going through your process. And I know you’ve got a lot of it on your website as well. What kind of Trent tailing timeframe would you put on on sort of systematizing.

Jodie Cook  14:01

So I think I did this in a way that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend, which was to massively throw myself in at the deep end. There. When I decided I wanted a holiday. I booked the holiday. I booked a five week trip to Australia, three months in the future. And I gave myself a deadline to get this sorted out. So my Systemising was born out of necessity of thinking, I’m going to be the other side of the world I have to make this happen. And part of coming up with the plan was talking to a team member about the trip I booked and them saying I’m really worried about your trip and me saying why? And they tell me all the reasons they were worried and I wrote them all down and decided to make a plan for each of those things happening. And that was what led to the table with all different processes.

Joe Valley  14:48

That sounds like something that’s smart, not not so smart. Right? You say you wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. But we’re entrepreneurs we probably the majority of us didn’t graduate top of our class, we couldn’t sit still we had to focus, we had to do our own thing, we might have had an issue with authority. And we just knew we could do something better on our own or serve people in our own way. And oftentimes, we wait until the last minute. And we do that work incredibly well at the last minute, or just grind it out. And I hate that word, grind it out, because it’s just not the way we should be living our life. So good for you for doing it. For most people, it’s probably going to take longer, and I suppose if they plan it, personally with quiet light we’ve done we’re we’re still in systematize. God, we’re How old are we now, folks? 2025 years, 24 years now? No, that’s not right. I can’t do math 2007. So 15 years, and we grew by 85% in 2021. And all of a sudden, we’re like, and we’ve grown 55%, year over year for the last six years. But it grew to the point where like, oh, we need people, we need bodies, we need help. And we exploded the size of our team in the last 18 months to do that. So sometimes you’ve got to do it just when the business needs it, I would imagine, we could still go on holiday. So we had that benefit and could could do different things. But for us, it’s been 18 months, and now we’re faced with potential recession. So it may be even a little longer in terms of, as you said, Sometimes this may cost you money, right? systematizing, as opposed to, you know, it’s saving you money. This is this is without doubt costing us money, but in the long run. And that’s how we’re looking at the businesses. And this is what most people don’t do. They don’t get out of the execute phase, they get completely burned out. And they sell their business. And they sell it for a hell of a lot less than it would be worth if they jumped into systematize hung on for a couple of years, and then came out of it for a couple of years and their businesses were so much more. The problem is that they they get shiny opposite object syndrome while they’re in the execute phase, and they take on all these other little projects, because they don’t want to do the work to get to the system. Eyespace my opinion. I’ve seen it happen 1000 times I’ve talked to a lot of people. So I’m excited about the book. And I hope everybody in the audience picks it up and reads it because there’s a lot to it. But let’s go to the next phase beyond systematize. What is that God routinize scrutinize? I think we only be in that place now. So, in fact, I’m pretty sure we are because we go What the hell are we doing? Go ahead, I want to hear about this part.

Jodie Cook  17:39

In an ideal world, you’ve completed execute, you know, you’re three things you’ve graduated execute, you’ve moved to systemize. And now you have begin the process of making sure that you are not the bottleneck to your business. And ideally, if you’ve done this in a really good way, you are now surplus to requirements. You’re not really needed. You want to be involved, and you may be you doing, you’re doing your thing within the business, but you’re not totally needed. I think this can be really difficult for entrepreneurs, because our egos get in the way. And when we’re not needed to answer questions and put out fires, we started to think, Why does no one need me am I not important do not matter. And it’s really that can be really tough to deal with. But if you can deal with that, and if you can get through systemize, you should now have this very well oiled machine that is still growing, because you’ve moved yourself out of processes that you probably weren’t giving your full attention to other people have taken taking them over. If you’ve hired and trained the right people, they’re probably doing better than you did, which means they’re seeing things that you that you didn’t. And you’re in scrutinize, which is where you are faced with this decision of what do I do now. And there are a whole host of different things that you could do now. So just as a side we have a quiz at quiz dot tenure And that’s how you tell which stage of your 10 year career you’re in. And of all the 1000s of entrepreneurs that have taken this quiz. 62% are in execute 33% are in systemize 4% are in scrutinized and only 1% are in accept. So it really is hardly anyone who makes it through to scrutinize if you’ve done that if you systemize your business, you’re in the top 5% of businesses according to my data from my survey

Joe Valley  19:30

before you set before you gave that data. I was definitely going to like where but now that you’ve said it we’re in scrutinize because sometimes I’m wondering what I’m doing I don’t have that much to do anymore, which is which is wonderful. But I don’t want to brag and say I’m in the 5% but I think we are I’m gonna have to take the quiz and see what it is quiz dot 10 year Did I get the right?

Jodie Cook  19:52

Yeah, that’s right. Now you have you have decisions you could say there are a whole host of them. I just run through them in a in no particular order. You can To proceed to exit where you sell, or where you continue to own the business. But you step back and you truly aren’t involved not just pretending you can’t just say that you exited and then actually be doing loads of work, it has to be like a no, I’m really, really not involved no email address, no slack access, etc, you could decide that you want to just step back a bit, you want to travel, you want to do other things. That’s exactly what I did, when I had completed the systemization of my business. I spent one month in every three just traveling and training and exploring different parts of the world and did that for about five years until COVID hit. So that was absolutely an option, you kind of run your business like a lifestyle business at that point. Or you could start a new project, which could be a completely separate project, because now is the time to side projects, because you’ve got something that is your main source of income that is that is working and is running. Or you could head back into execute in the same business. So the guy who bought my agency was really interesting, because he had the scrutinize phase, decided that running agencies was just his jam. So he bought a bunch of different agencies and headed back into execute, but with like six different agencies to kind of move together rather than just the one. So you’ve got loads of things that you could do. But it all relies on this huge sense of self awareness. And just asking yourself, what do I actually want to do? And what how do I actually want to spend my time? Yeah, it’s

Joe Valley  21:26

your agency buyer had been there, he’d done it. So in that execute phase, it probably wasn’t as painful as, as it was the very first time he did it, or you did it or that I did it. There’s the learning curve is a heck of a lot shorter, for sure. Yeah, we we talked about what to do after an exit many, many times on the show and in personal conversations. And I’ve seen people go and sell their business and jump right into another one. Or they’ve sold the SAS business and they buy an e-commerce business or vice versa. And some people say, if you’ve got the financial wherewithal, don’t do anything new for 12 months, and figure out your next path. What’s your recommendation, given that you’ve, you’ve had this option yourself?

Jodie Cook  22:13

Oh, my goodness, it’s a minefield, and you have no idea what it’s going to feel like until you do it, or I didn’t anyway, I’ve thought a lot about myself before it happened. The sale took about six months from the moment I decided to sell to the moment we completed. And at the start of that I really visualized what I thought I would feel like when the sale completed. But in reality, it was nothing like that. Because it was deep in the trenches of COVID. We were in lockdown, we couldn’t travel. It was like my gym was in my living room because the gym was shirt. And so it was just such a strange existence. And it probably made it more strange. But I definitely agree with taking time out after because you just need to sit in the void and see what it feels like. But then I think a really good thing to do is loads of journaling. So that you work out how you feel what you miss, what you don’t miss what’s missing, and therefore what your next step would be. I did a bunch of experiments. They were meant to it’s like I said yes to podcast interviews, and I did loads of those. And other mentors, I had two powerlifting competitions. So I did those and focused on that. And other was focused on writing, in other words, just did nothing and traveled and did it all with a with a view to just getting to know myself and then working out what my next step should be. And where I got to was the business that I had sold was not the business that I would start from scratch if I was starting another business. And I think that’s because I was 22 when I started it I was 32 when I sold it, you’re a whole different person then yeah, so I realized that I did want to start a new business. But it wasn’t that one that wanted run its course, I think having that period where you just sit in the stillness, you journal, you work out who you are, can lead you to your next step in a really good way.

Joe Valley  24:04

How was it for you at the age of whatever you are now I won’t say you just said 32 ish? How is it for you at this age, with the freedom and flexibility that you have? When most of the people your age have to actually get up and go to work every day? Do you find personally that? It’s it’s difficult to say? Yeah, I’m just gonna hang out in Lisbon for a while then I’m gonna go down to New Zealand for a couple of months. Or do people have you just been that when people you’re within your circle are like that as well. This is this. I like that as well. They’re all like that as well. All right. And

Jodie Cook  24:47

that’s because I’ve sought them out. One of the networks I mean, it’s called Dynamite Circle and it’s a group for location independent entrepreneurs. So I hang out with a lot of location independent entrepreneurs who are focused on where can I live Have where can I train? How can I be in the sunshine all the time, and they’re not just focused on, I have to have a business or I have to do work. And then what underpins that is that I felt like even when I was running my agency, it didn’t really feel like work, because I enjoyed it so much. Because I think doing work that you would do for free or doing work, that doesn’t feel like work is how you win at life. So I’ve been trying to create that situation for myself for a very long time. So I don’t really feel any different post exit to pre exit in that sense.

Joe Valley  25:32

Yeah, doing work, that doesn’t feel like work is the way to win at life. And we, we all know that and we hear it. But unfortunately, people get on paths because they think that they should, because they got pushed into it, or the the whether it’s parents or peer pressure, or whatever it might be. I totally agree. But I know how hard it is to actually go down that path. Let’s talk about the fourth section exit. What, what is the book talk about there? What are you advising in that part of your process?

Jodie Cook  26:05

So the book mentions your framework within exit. And you know, I read your book after I’d sold, and I was I really wanted to read it. And I was more relieved when I did that. I didn’t do anything wrong.

Joe Valley  26:19

Good. People usually swear at me after they’ve read my book, and they’ve already exited, you know, kind of the same thing. Why didn’t you write this before?

Jodie Cook  26:29

Yeah. So yeah, it goes into your book and your five pillars growth, risk, transferability documentation, and then the magic is that the fifth one that isn’t the whole being someone that someone wants to do business with. And then it talks a lot about having an intentional sale, which I think is super important, because I know that I’ve chatted to business owners before who they vaguely think that they want to sell their business, but they haven’t really been intentional about it. And there’s one friend in particular who I think has been selling his business off and on for like, three years, and he has one buyer at a time and then it always goes through. And I just think when you want to go, you want to go and then it’s really important to line up everything at the same time. But for me, something I did that was super geeky, was I wrote myself a pretend check. The amount I want to sell for the one social media agency with no earnout, I signed it like the perfect buyer or something cheesy. And then on the date, I wrote the date that I wanted to sell. And then what ended up happening is we sold for that exact amount, didn’t have to do an urn out. And the date I wrote on the check was within two weeks of meeting the buyer. So I feel like there’s something about being really intentional about it. And then learning everything makes it happen so much more so than just vaguely flitting around, telling people which is the worst thing ever, and then not taking the action that you need to.

Joe Valley  27:49

That’s just incredible that you wrote yourself a check. It’s not super geeky. It’s super smart God. I mean, you put it into action, you just put it out there. You set a goal with a date, and a timeframe. I’m sorry, a date and $1 amount. And of course, you had some feelings with that as well. You know, I talked about that in my book, dollars dating, feeling. That’s really, really smart. I would encourage everyone right now, to do that. Write yourself a check, sign it the perfect buyer put the date on it. That’s brilliant. Why didn’t I put that in my book, my God, that’s great.

Jodie Cook  28:24

SQL, you put it in the next one. But I what I wanted to do was make the sale feel inevitable. Because I think that one of the hardest things to do is barrel forward with, with everything that you need to do in order to sell your company without knowing for sure that you’re going to sell it. And no one really does know for sure that they’re going to sell it because it could fall through at any point you could never find the buyer. So it was writing the pretend check. It was also googling social media agency acquisition or social media agency sold and just seeing how many different agencies were sold all the time, bought and sold all the time, which made me think this is normal. This is this is doable, this can happen. And then it was working with a broker who told me the process of selling a company and what that would be month by month, that also made me think, Okay, this is routine, this is inevitable, it’s going to happen. And then because I believe so strongly that was going to happen. It meant that I could work backwards from there rather than having to kind of blindly navigate my to do list without really knowing.

Joe Valley  29:29

Yeah, I mean, there’s so much information out there. Of course, I want to go to the broker versus no broker aspect right now because you just said blindly navigating things, not knowing what you were doing. Did you always intend to use a broker to help you exit? Or were there always people and little people on your shoulder saying you can do this on your own? You don’t need a broker do this on your own? What was your mindset there? Before?

Jodie Cook  29:55

The six months before I completed myself I didn’t even know Just gonna sell, I didn’t really know it was possible, I didn’t really know that companies got bought and sold all the time, I just thought I need to speak to someone who would know about this stuff. So there’s a friend of a friend who’s an agency owner with an agency about maybe nine times the size of mine, and I got on a call with her. And I said to her, you’re probably about the size of company that would buy us from what I’d found out in my research, what would you want to know? What would you want to see? And she was amazing, because she told me all the questions that she would ask the one that she wanted to buy, he sent me the list of them. And then I like prepared answers to those as if I was selling to her, even though that wasn’t the point of it. And then she said, we work with a m&a consultant who you could speak to, if you want to help you a bit more. So I was like, Yep, great. got on the phone with him. And that’s when he said, You need all this stuff in place, you need us completely systemized business. And you need a second tier management team in place, who will look after everything. And I was like, Well, I’ve already got all this, this is exactly what I’ve got in place already. And so he said, Well, you don’t really need to work with me, then you’re you’re way ahead of this, you don’t need to do the kind of six months work that would be involved in this, I can put you straight on to someone who we work with who’s a broker. And so when I met the broker, we were ready, I’d written the deck, the that kind of put my business as a product to ready to show a buyer. And, and yeah, he pretty much signed us up straight away. And it seemed to make sense the process of what we’re doing month one through two months, it made sense. And then we started getting introduced to buyers, and then had chemistry meetings, and then they turn into offers. So it demystified the whole process. I don’t know how I would have done it without a broker, I think it would have worked. But I think there are some things that you don’t want to just say yourself, it’s really good having the broker on the call them instead of you.

Joe Valley  31:52

Yeah, yeah. And the key is the demystifying the process, because you don’t know what you don’t know. And at one point or another things generally go sideways, it could be more stressful than you need it to be, you don’t need to need sleep, lose sleep. And, you know, you can hold firm on your with a broker and your case can hold firm on the all cash offer that you got, or whatever structure it is, and, and not waver on a call because you’re doing a zoom call with them. And they asked you a difficult question about modifying the deal. So you’ve always got somebody in the middle there.

Jodie Cook  32:29

The Zoom calls are really interesting. And I’d been prepared by the broker before we did those as well. And he called them chemistry meeting.

Joe Valley  32:36

I love those. Yeah, I’m gonna change that we’re not doing we’re not doing by teleconference calls anymore, folks. We’re doing chemistry calls? Because that’s what they are. Yeah, yeah,

Jodie Cook  32:45

exactly. And they were, I think we had 12 in the end. And there were some where we had loads of chemistry, there were some where we just didn’t have any, and that’s fine. It’s just, you know, it’s okay. It’s just not going to work out. But we will miss we all wish each other well. And what I thought was really good about the chemistry course was that they went first, though the potential buyers talked about their business, their clients, what they were looking for. And then I was there scribbling notes down. And then when I talked about my business, I was talking about the stuff that was relevant to them, because I could have talked about a bunch of stuff that didn’t matter at all, but it meant I could steer the conversation in that way. And then yeah, we had a lot of a lot of good calls with them, but I was really happy that I was prepared for them.

Joe Valley  33:24

Did you get more than one offer? Yeah. And did you choose the highest offer or the buyer that you liked the most?

Jodie Cook  33:33

Both it was, we were lucky. It was the same one lucky

Joe Valley  33:36

the same one? Yeah. Okay, good. Did we did we cover I know, under execute systemized scrutinize we covered, you know, a number of different steps. Did we cover those already through this conversation on exit?

Jodie Cook  33:50

Yeah, I think so. It’s mainly, it’s a lot to do with your pillars, it’s seeing your business as a product, it’s finding some way of taking that step back and being able to see it with perspective, that if you’re really intertwined, and you think your business is all about you, and you think it reflects you, it’s going to be really, really hard to do that. And part of it as well is not telling people, because I think that’s important. It’s like your team doesn’t need to know your clients, they need to know, your grandma doesn’t need to know, no one needs to know it’s like, just do it and don’t talk to people about it, because it means that you can avoid hearing things like oh, you’re named and the company name, you’re never gonna be able to sell or Oh, X percent of your revenue from this one client, you’re never gonna be able to sell like someone will always tell you but they don’t really know. And so if that puts you off, and you won’t do it, so it’s just better to say nothing and only work with the professionals who can actually help you. But then after that exit is all about moving forward with intention, having a plan making it happen, and it’s it’s the shortest of the four different phases. Definitely the shortest because you will know you can’t be vaguely selling your business for years and years.

Joe Valley  34:57

This I think the key thing about those the four paths Whereas on the person behind the business being the fifth is that if you don’t get those things, right, your value changes dramatically. If there’s one weak pillar, instead of getting an all cash deal, you’re getting an urn out, because you’re the name and face of the business and all the clients rely on you, and you have to stick around for 18 to 24 months. That’s not the kind of exit that people generally want. But you said something about that name, face your names on the business? Don’t tell people because they’ll tell you CATSA was your name on the business? Yeah,

Jodie Cook  35:35

it was. It had my initials in it, had your initials

Joe Valley  35:37

in it, but you would remove yourself. So did the clients that you had in the agency, know your name? No, your face ever talked to you on a regular basis at the point when you were selling? Or did they have client managers? At the point

Jodie Cook  35:53

at which we sold? I wasn’t the key, I wasn’t the main point of contact, but anytime and I hadn’t been for years, probably longer than that.

Joe Valley  36:03

Six months. That’s incredible. And was it was it 10 years that you had the business?

Jodie Cook  36:07

Yeah, it was 10 years, I had the business. But once I started to systemize, it was like, This doesn’t make sense, because I’m the main point of contact for all the clients, but I’m not doing the work. So that was a big shift where I stepped aside from being the person who called them follow them or sent me a report, because I didn’t want to, because the account managers would do such good work, I didn’t want to downplay that. I didn’t want to just be the person who was the face and kind of took all the credit. So that was about hiring better account managers, teaching them and client communications, because it’s very specific how you speak to clients. And then from then on, they looked after that, and they had team leaders. And we had a general manager. And that was all looked after. By then. The hardest part of that was when I was in between, in between Systemising a few different things. So when I wasn’t doing the client communication, but I was still doing the sales, that’s when I would do the selling people would sign up with me. And then I wasn’t looking after them. So there was a lot of friction there because it was like, hang on, you sold us and now you’re not looking after us. But as soon as I systemized the sales process as well got some amazing sales people on board. Clients didn’t ever need to speak to me because they’d be looked after in the sales process, then they’d be handed over to their account manager and I was just this kind of face of the business who was off doing other things. I think having a personal brand can really benefit you from needing to be involved or clients thinking that you’re going to be in meetings, I think it can work the other way it can actually work in your favor.

Joe Valley  37:35

It’s all very impressive what you’ve done. And now you’ve written your 20th book, I don’t know. And you’re and you’re a powerlifting champion as well, right would champion be the right word?

Jodie Cook  37:47

I mean, I’ve won a few competitions. I wouldn’t call myself a champion. I would definitely a power lifter, power lifter. And I compete for Great Britain and England about once a year as well.

Joe Valley  37:56

That’s, I don’t know how you do it all very impressive. The book itself will hit sort of shelves in the US when can people buy them here in the States? For that for those that are listening in the States?

Jodie Cook  38:10

For those that are listening in the States, you can buy it from the 15th of November 2022. From those that are listening anywhere else in the world, you can buy it right now. It’s that 10 year credit card minutes, it should be anywhere that sells

Joe Valley  38:21

books. And if I’m in the States, can I buy it at Right now, if well, then we’re recording in September, folks, can you buy it in advance in the states and have it shipped from overseas? Or is that just ridiculously expensive?

Jodie Cook  38:36

You probably could do if you really, really, really wanted to get it ahead, you could definitely do that. But otherwise, it’s pretty ordered. And you’ll get it in November. But there’s Kindle there’s paperback and there’s also an audio version as well. So you can listen to my Birmingham accent for hours and hours. Select All right, well, good.

Joe Valley  38:52

Lots of different choices. God Is that how people would find you? Congratulations on your 20th book. I’m excited to have the audience read this. I think that it it will get them beyond that execute phase, which I think so many of them are in and you’ve done the thinking for them. So I appreciate it. I’m gonna look at it myself. I’m gonna go to quiz dot. Make sure I get this right Yep. And see which phase I’m in. I’ll shoot you a note tell you how wrong I was that maybe I’m still in the Execute.

Jodie Cook  39:29

Find out what we really interesting and 66% 63% of people are in execute execute.

Joe Valley  39:36

Yeah. And they shouldn’t be there in the third year of running their business, necessarily, right. They should move to it as soon as they can to the systemize phase, I suppose. I guess every business is different though.

Jodie Cook  39:50

I feel like I want people to have a 10 year career where they progress every year, rather than just have the same year 10 times. And it’s like we have Have these progression plans for our team members? When someone starts with us, they’ll be like, Okay, what am I gonna do in one year and two years and three years and we have answers and they have appraisals, and we know what’s around the corner for them. But what about us? So I want this to be our progression plan of how we progress through our own businesses and then don’t need to again within a decade.

Joe Valley  40:19

Brilliant, I wish I wish you wrote it sooner. Thanks for coming on. God, I appreciate it.

Jodie Cook  40:24

Thank you, Joe.

Outro  40:27

Today’s podcast was produced by Rise25 And the Quiet Light content team. If you have a suggestion for a future podcast, subject or guest, email us at podcast at Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.

Thinking of Selling Now or Later?

Get your free valuation & marketplace-readiness assessment. We’ll never push you to sell. And we’ll always be honest about whether or not selling is the right choice for you.