Resources for Buying and Selling Online Businesses

The Transition: Handyman to Amazon Business Owner with an SBA Loan

Available_Black copy
Available_Black copy
Available_Black copy

When it comes to buying and selling a business, one of the first questions we typically get is how long it takes to complete the deal. These businesses are complex and looking beyond the multiple to see the potential value and return opportunities for return is key. Today’s guest experienced a longer deal closing than expected but he is being rewarded for his patience. Some mistakes take longer to clean up than others but this is the story of how much the seller wanted to sell to this particular buyer despite the snags in the process.

A born entrepreneur right out of high school, Karl spent over 10 years building a handyman business on his own. Right around the time he heard about Amazon and a local kid making a million dollars on the platform, Karl started to dabble and found his way in. After a few false starts, Karl became experienced in the Amazon marketplace. Today he walks us through his business buying process and his plans for doubling discretionary earnings in a very short time.

Episode Highlights:

  • The background on the business Karl purchased and how he knew it was the right fit for him.
  • What happened with the SBA loan process and how that affected the deal.
  • How Karl maintained the rapport with the buyer throughout the process.
  • Why a price increase occurred during the process.
  • The importance of keeping on top of the lender throughout.
  • Karl’s plan for doubling his margins and how he’s implementing it.
  • The importance of an in-face meeting with your Chinese manufacturer and how often to have one.
  • Karl’s advice to anyone planning a purchase.


Mark: Alright guys welcome to another episode of the Quiet Light Podcast. Real quick before I talk to Joe; if anybody out there hasn’t left a rating on the Quiet Light Podcast, do me a favor go to iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you listen to us, leave a rating, we certainly appreciate it. Makes us feel good. Makes us feel like we’re doing a decent job at this whole podcasting thing. So thanks in advance to everybody that has done that. Okay, so Joe, when we’re talking to a potential seller or even talking to a potential buyer one of the topics that come up often, is how long does it take to complete the deal, right? And we have people wondering am I going to get this done in three months and what have you. The fact is these businesses are complex. On the upfront summaries what we see usually is pretty plain and simple. You see revenue, you see earnings, you see a multiple, and you kind of think well this should be nice and capsid and quick. And sometimes it is. But other times you have to look a little bit deeper. And you and I have talked about this before, right? For buyers to make sure you’re looking beyond the multiple and the multiple is one point of data. And for sellers and buyers alike to also have patience with the process and understand that you’re selling a complex asset. I know you had Carl on the podcast who is a recent buyer of one of our properties. And it was one of those situations where the deal took longer than expected and the numbers weren’t as necessarily straightforward as maybe you would think when you just look at this. But the net result for him as a buyer and for a client were phenomenal by being patient and looking a little bit deeper.

Joe: Yes, no question. This particular deal took I want to say from letter of intent to closing seven and a half months which is probably the longest I’ve ever had. There’s really specific reasons for it. And Carl is partly to blame for it because he made a mistake on his application to the SBA lender. So we had to do the process essentially twice. The seller Kevin hung in there with Carl because Carl was a nice guy. It made a difference. And at one point when the deal fell apart, we had to go back. Well, my advice was to go back out to market for an awful lot more money because the business has grown a lot; probably worth $400,000 more. Carl and Kevin got along so well that Kevin said no I don’t want to do that to Carl. Let’s just bump the price thousand $160,000; crazy. Most buyers would walk away. They’d be like no. Yesterday it was this price today you want $160,000 more. Carl didn’t do that and he’s being rewarded greatly for it right away instant equity, in my opinion, a quarter of a million dollars in the business. And then some things that he’s doing on his end immediately once that first container load comes in doubling the discretionary earnings because of a focus on reducing COGS. It’s just fantastic what he’s doing. And it’s a great lesson for buyers and sellers to be patient, to be focused on helping each other, and not looking just at that multiple.

Mark: You know I love this sort of story because I get it right from a buying standpoint you’re looking at a lot of deal flow you need to evaluate businesses quickly. So the temptation is often to look at just the high-level metrics and to eliminate something based on that. But so many of these businesses and if I could just say you know maybe even a plug for Quiet Light you know when we bring a business to the market we usually believe in that company pretty strongly as being a good value play for buyers. And so taking the time to kind of dissect it and to understand more than the top-level metrics and what’s going on underneath and look for those opportunities for that immediate win and again looking beyond that multiple. So this is a really good story of somebody doing just that and seeing a really quick reward on that. I want to listen to this. I want to hear all the dynamics. This is one of those more complex deals and I think a really good example of what happens when the deal isn’t straightforward but still works out in the end.

Joe: Yeah. Hey, one other thing. I had a really strange interruption everybody in the audience I want you to get 10, 15 minutes in. Chris, our producer asked me about a particular person. I’m trying to find out who this is. If you could just get that far listen in and shoot me a note. I want to try to track that person down. Thanks, Ben. I appreciate it. Let’s go to the podcast.

Joe: Hey folks Joe Valley here from Quiet Light Brokerage. Today I’ve got Carl Sally on the podcast. Carl recently bought a business from me and it was a long, long process. I think we; I’m going to throw a quick data to Carl, we originally went under LOI in October of 2018 and didn’t close until June of ‘19 and we want to share the story of why with the buyers and sellers and talk about what happened during that period, how the business grew out, how we fell out of LOI, got back under LOI and eventually closed to the point where both you and the seller are thrilled and some of the things that you’re going to do with the business going forward. Before we go over all of that why don’t you give a little bit of background on yourself so the folks listening know who you are Carl?

Carl: Sure yeah so right out of high school I basically started out a little handyman company; very artificial, just a smelting yard and painting walls for a long time, offered a few contractors to work for free until I got enough knowledge to do plumbing and electrical and basically do the house from the ground up. I did that for 10 years. So in my late 20’s that’s when I learned about Amazon and I always had podcasts and things trickling in my ears, self-help books and what have you while I was tiling bathrooms or roofing on a house. And I heard the 4-hour workweek and kind of the same time I heard about The 4 Hour Work Week I heard about this kid, he was making a million dollars a year on Amazon. And so I said man if she can do it there’s gotta be a way I can figure this thing out. And I did some free work for him at his warehouse. And he taught me a lot and just basically pointed me in the direction of YouTube. I learned everything I could. I had a few failures in my first project; my first product on Amazon. I think me and my partner lost maybe 10 grand on our first product and that was all credit card money. And then the very next product that we launched we did it the right way and we’re able to actually start a business on that foundation and eventually grew that to five, six million dollars in gross sales.

Joe: That’s amazing. Now let’s just come back to this kid that was making a million bucks on Amazon. You didn’t hear it online. It was somebody local in the area that you live in?

Carl: Yeah, it was just some random kid from the community.

Joe: And you tracked him down and said look man I’m here for free I just want to learn?

Carl: I was great at electrical work and I knew he needed some electrical workers for his house so I just thought he could do a little trade with me.

Joe: Fantastic.

Carl: He was thrilled. It was nothing to him.

Joe: That’s beautiful. That’s the way to do it. I remember hearing a story a long time ago doing the same; self-help books and everything like that where somebody was trying to develop a project, a real estate development but he didn’t have enough money. So he brought in people with all of the expertise and gave him a piece of the pie and all that sort of stuff. Where there’s a will there’s a way. I mean that’s exactly what you’ve shown here. And now you’ve bought a business that’s quite sizable and you’re running a business that’s even much larger. So cool, good for you. That’s a great story. Let’s give a little background. Again just a review. We just closed the transaction. Today we’re recording on June 26. I think we closed on the 12th of June but we went under LOI a long time ago. You and I’ve been talking for I guess it would be eight or nine months now. This is the first time we’re on video folks as well. You might want to jump over to the YouTube channel and see what’s going on there. The first time we’ve seen each other. We’d like to do a lot more video in the initial buyer-seller conference calls now. But this is our first shot together. So that’s great.

Carl: Yeah.

Joe: But it’s been a long time. We initially; a little bit of background on this particular listing folks; it’s a listing that I had listed for sale I think it was in late ‘17. And the growth rate on it had slowed. The owner of the business had some competition and he reduced prices. And his sales went up, his total volume of orders went up I guess I should say. His revenue did as well but the margin shrunk because he cut costs. So growth had slowed to 1 or 2% and it concerned buyers. So for owners out there, sellers think about that aspect of it. It concerned buyers. Growth has slowed. He slashed prices. He had some great growth opportunities in the package but just hadn’t implemented them out of fear. He didn’t want to make a whole lot of changes before listing the business for sale which generally is right. But in this case, the combination of that slowed growth because of cutting prices to fend off competition turned buyers away. And we didn’t sell the business. We had it listed for three or four months. And Kevin decided look I’m going to go ahead and implement these growth opportunities and come back at this in the future. And he did. He came back. He implemented those growth opportunities. He fixed what was broken and came back and the growth was phenomenal. Nine months later, 10 months later we saw a 25% year over year improvement in total revenues and discretionary earnings. We listed the business for sale. And probably within a couple of weeks, I think Carl you got the winning bid. We put that under offer at full price. You knew what you could do with the business which is fascinating because this one is it’s in the home sector, right? You can do installation yourself and things of that nature. I didn’t know there was a connection before with your background, how you grew up in that first 10-year high school. That’s awesome. So it makes more sense now. But why don’t we talk about it? This is we went under LOI and it was going to be an SBA loan and it fell apart. We were almost there and then we lost it because we didn’t get a commitment letter. Can you talk a little bit about your process in terms of first maybe why you liked this one and then what the SBA loan process was like for you and then we’ll get into how it fell apart?

Carl: Yeah sure. So the business itself I really liked because well one the numbers were right, it had a very; like you said a strong year over year growth which I found attractive. All the products; it had a small amount of products for the amount of revenue so that that ratio of low amount of SKUs to high revenue was very attractive to me. So it’s less management and I could handle it myself. Also, the review ratings were really high. It had a great historical keyword ranking for most of the SKUs and all of those things kind of checked all the boxes for me. And then next I wanted to talk seller because a lot of it has to do with the seller as well. I knew this would be a long process with an SBA loan and I wanted to work with somebody who was honest. So as soon as I got on the phone with them I realized this guy’s a straight shooter. And I’ve dealt over the last 15 years with a lot of shady characters and I just don’t like doing business with those kind of people anymore. So it checked every box at that point and I said okay I should definitely; I don’t want to screw around. I want to give him a good offer. I felt that it was a good price for the amount of growth that it had left to do. So I made that full offer. And then we started to kind of get into my first SBA loan experience.

Joe: I definitely want to talk about that. Let me talk about price. We’re not going to give away the price here folks but we went with an aggressive multiple on the low side. I’d say we were at about 2.8 times even with that growth. But it’s because we have listed it prior and it didn’t sell. So we were able to list it for more than we did the prior time but at a multiple, that was relatively conservative at 2.8 times. And it’s important to note that because of what we’re going to get to at the end. So okay, back to the SBA process.

Carl: Sure. So we started the process and of course, I think I approached two different lenders and they had said each one of them had said oh yeah we’ll get this done for you in 30 to 60 days. And I’m like oh man that is faster than I thought. That’s great. Let’s do it.

Joe: Yeah.

Carl: So we got it going. And I think about three or four months into the process that’s when we realized that I had actually screwed something up in the paperwork. There was a personal financial statement for those who haven’t done SBA loans yet, you have to declare everything that you have as an asset on this paper. And so in good faith, I didn’t want to commit a federal fraud. So I declared everything that I thought was an asset including two properties that I have been receiving rental on for the last three years not thinking anything out. And then they went to go do a title search on them and realized that my name’s not on the deed. It’s not on the loan. And to me, those have always been performing assets. But in reality, since I didn’t technically own them and I just had kind of handshake agreements; paper agreements on the side with the other partners in those properties, they didn’t check out. And it’s almost like I was in danger of performing fraud even though I came from a place of honesty. I put assets there that I technically don’t really own. So anyway the bank at that point couldn’t lend to me. I was untouchable. And we had just wasted four months of time. And of course, the seller was furious. I was furious. And the lender was furious. Everybody is just mad because I screwed up. I still wanted the business. The business was growing hand over fist every month. And I realized there was no way at this point even if the seller decides to keep me on that I’m going to be able to pay the same price for it. So I reapproached Joe and the seller just to see if we can still make a deal happen. There was literally just this one little thing in the paperwork that I screwed up so I knew I had this other stack of 100 documents that I could just drop in the next lender and hopefully accelerate that process. And I think probably Joe knows better. You know better. But I think that the seller saw that I had been moving extremely quickly the entire time even though when the lender had been dragging their heels. It was probably par for the course. I see now. And so he knew that I would perform very quickly for the next lender and that there was no way that he was going to get another SBA buyer that would move faster than me. And we had also established a pretty good rapport over the over those four months. He’s kind of like I am in that he likes to move fast. So I think we just kind of hit it off and he still was able to sell it to me even though we did raise the price which I thought was an extremely fair raise. I thought he really took care of me on that which I’m grateful for. We were able to make the deal.

Joe: Yeah let me pipe in there because I have to; people are like what you raised the pricing? You kept going and you bought the business? First I want to touch on a couple of things there. When an SBA lender says yeah we can do this in 30, 45 days; definitely get that done. And you think yeah that’s great, that’s fast. You have to talk about from what starting point. Lenders have a different definition of closing, of starting; they’re really talking about from the commitment letter; 30 to 40 days. And they’re right. Sure. But we always want to talk that one language and that’s from a letter of intent, right? We signed the Letter of Intent I think with the initial one was October 14. It’s going to take anywhere from 60 to 90 days to close that deal. And by closing, we mean what? We clearly define that as money changing hands, asset changing hands, you taking control of the business, Kevin the seller getting funds; all of that is closing. So when anyone is ever talking to an SBA lender talk from the point of the Letter of Intent. Understand that there’s going to be a time when you got to put that whole package together, submit it to them, it’s going to go to underwriting, then you’re going to get a commitment letter. That in itself can take 45 days. And then you’re another 30 to 45 days to closing. So that’s where we get that 90 days from the SBA side. It can happen quickly. We’ve got; I think Chuck did one in 45, 42 days something like that. But if it’s a sizable deal and more towards the end of the year guess what they want to do it faster because they’re trying to hit certain numbers. Yes, they could do it faster all the time right Carl?

Carl: Of course.

Joe: The other thing I just want to touch on. I’m on a podcast right now with a guy named Carl and I tried to talk my seller out of selling the business to Carl. It is pretty laughable, right?

Carl: I don’t blame you.

Joe: Because when the deal fell through the first time I’m like look, Kevin, your business has exploded. It’s worth a lot more now. We need to really jack the price. If we go back out based upon what’s happening year to date and this is now, this was March 2019 at this point something. I gave a high number; a much bigger number, that the business is worth probably $350,000 more than we were under LOI with you. And you know what? He’s like you know what Joe I really like Carl. We get along really well. I like him. All the paperwork is done. If we can just get it submitted the right way with another lender we could still fast track it. And you know what let’s see if we can find a fair price that’s going to work for Carl and me. So we did. We went back to you and we did jack the price. You ended up paying, and I’m not telling the list price, but you ended up paying about $160,000 more for the business.

Carl: Right.

Joe: Oddly enough the multiple still went down.

Carl: Yeah, that’s how good it was doing.

Joe: Yeah. That’s how good it was doing. You went from a 2.8 multiple to a 2.55 multiple. Yet you were paying $160,000 more. Now I’m talking about multiples here a little bit. Folks, one of the lessons I want you to get from this, Carl is looking at this business with an eye of what he can do with it, what he can accomplish, and how he can grow it. We’re going to talk about that in a few minutes. Not the multiple. The multiple wasn’t his main focus. It was wow it’s doing this in discretionary earnings based upon things within the business I can correct, fix, shift and even with the same revenue, I’m going to jack up the discretionary earnings and have some instant equity. Speaking of instant equity we talked about it, I think that you have probably a quarter of a million dollars in instant equity in the business because I think it’s worth at least that much more right now than what you paid for it based upon the growth. Okay, so there’s my little two cents I wanted to go ahead…hold on a sec, my producer is poking his head in. What’s up, Chris? This is odd. Okay, he gave me a piece of paper. He’s asking me Carl have you ever heard of a guy named Andy Youderian?

Carl: I did not.

Joe: Okay Chris, no idea. Okay. Hey anybody in the audience listening, if you guys have any idea who Andy Youderian; sounds like somebody from Star Wars, have any idea who the guy is, reach out to me find him, let him know that our producer is looking for him. Alright, I’m sorry for that tangent guys. Back on track. Okay so we went out to another lender and it worked. Just touch on that in terms of how long that process was because you had to resubmit an entire package again.

Carl: Right. I mean they want; as soon as they said they wanted to work with me I dropped a document stack on them about 50 pages long; no 50 documents, some of those documents were 20 pages long.

Joe: Wow.

Carl: I mean it was just a huge stack of paper and in my mind, I’m thinking now we can get this bank down in three weeks. But of course they; when you get legal involved I realize that that’s the real linchpin is the lawyers. It just takes so so long to review and get stuff back to you. They would expect to document for me in a week. I hand it to them in 24 hours. They needed it by close of business. They’d have it in five minutes. So I never ever ever want to be the person who’s holding the ball. I think with SBA loans you got to just keep the ball in the lender’s court over and over and over again. And sometimes it would be even though I’d get it to them so quickly I would be waiting for seven days for a response.

Joe: Yeah.

Carl: And this just; that time compounds.

Joe: You got to keep pushing.

Carl: And I would push and I was always squeaky; always squeaky with the lender.

Joe: Squeaky but nice folks. You can’t put them off.

Carl: Squeaky but nice. Yeah, you don’t want to put them off because I still do want to do repeat business with these people. So it’s a fine line you walk. But I think in the end we really did close that super-fast. It wasn’t like maybe even within that two months that they normally promise.

Joe: I think it was. It helped; we fast-tracked the package to underwriting which sometimes again takes 30 to 45 days. But because you had it we were able to get there fairly quickly. The other lender, by the way, helped out with that. He gave a lot of the package right over and helped out as well. Alright, so we did close it. Let’s jump to the fun stuff so people can learn about what you’re doing with this business. We closed June 12th; yeah 11th or 12th, then you and I had a conversation. And you basically told me that you’re going to double the discretionary earnings. Can you talk about that a little bit and how you’re doing it and what other folks should look at when they’re looking at businesses instead of just looking at the top-line number in terms of the meat and bones of the business itself, what you looked at and how you’re approaching it so that you know you can increase the bottom line number and the total margins?

Carl: Sure. Well, oddly enough I didn’t even realize this until maybe three days before closing. But I was really excited to close finally and I put the deal in front of my partner for my existing business who does most of the logistics for us. And he said hey this product is really similar to some of the stuff we sell, why don’t we run it past our existing supplier and just get a price out of them before shopping it around to other people in China. And so we did and I think the main item that the seller of the business I was purchasing was paying for; I think he was paying 16.50 for an item that this new manufacturer was willing to make for us equal quality for $8.05.

Joe: Wow.

Carl: And so I said holy crap this can’t be real. So we just got the samples in yesterday and it’s pretty similar. I mean probably with another dollar tweak to $9.05 it’ll probably be damn near the same product. And at that point—.

Joe: How many units is that selling?

Carl: I think that’s about like 20 a day, 600 a month; 6 to 900 a month. But what that did to the EBIDTA bottom line is I think it increases it by between 80 and 90%.

That’s incredible.

Carl: Yeah.

Joe: We get a quarter million equity going in by—

Carl: It was a huge windfall. I mean completely unexpected honestly.

Joe: When it comes to relationships with your Chinese manufacturers, I understand your business partner from your other business spends a lot of time on that aspect of it. Do you find that it’s important to get over there and meet with them face to face and spend a little time with them?

Carl: Oh absolutely; 100% yeah. To be able to press the flesh with the Chinese manufacturer is night and day difference. I mean that big of a difference; completely night and day. You’re just a number overseas even if you have big order amounts. They like the green but they also like the in face meeting a lot. It’s part of their culture. They call it Guanxi over there where it’s business relationships; a special word for a business relationship that you develop. And the more Guanxi you can develop with your manufacturer, the more seriously they’ll take you even if you have smaller order sizes, even if you’re ordering less frequently, they give you the benefit of the doubt many times if you screw something up they’ll pick up the slack for you. And some manufacturers will negotiate on their terms as well which is something that for most people who buy from China they know that they’re very inflexible on that. But if you meet them enough and bring gifts and you offer respect and just have a good time; just go out, have some cigars and some drinks with them, the more often you do that the more a friend you are they really blur the line between friend and business over there. And the more that you can step into that gray area the more freely the favors flow and the more freely they’ll give you really good terms which is even better than in my opinion getting a better price. Terms is everything because your cash flow is helped out so so hugely. So I think it’s hugely underrated I think everybody should see their manufacturer.

Joe: For those that haven’t traveled to China before, how complicated is it? Is it safe? Should you plan on spending three days there or five days, a couple of weeks and see multiple manufacturers? What would you recommend to people that haven’t done it before?

Carl: Personally, I think at least a week is good. And I think starting their relationship with your manufacturer. Don’t just go in blind. Have at least a few months of history with your manufacturer where they see that you do pay and you’re a real buyer, you’re not just a maybe then they’ll already respect you enough to want to extend…roll out the red carpet for you. And just saying that you’re going to be there for seven days. They will take care of you. They’re extremely honored to have an American guest come to their homeland and care enough to see the things that they like and care enough to see their manufacturing facility that they’ve spent so much time developing. So yeah they’ll take you on tours. They’ll pay for your hotels. I mean I’ve never had it where at least it wasn’t at least offered to pay for most of my expenses. They bought my family gifts. I mean I didn’t; these were things I was uncomfortable receiving. But I felt like I needed to receive them in order to develop that relationship and not become one-sided.

Joe: I’ve heard that time and time again. I think one of the key things for buyers to take away from that is that if they’ve never been it’s safe to go and people are honored to have you there.

Carl: Oh yeah. I felt very safe.

Joe: Business relations; Guanxi you call it, is that right?

Carl: Yeah, that’s what they call it. Right.

Joe: So buyers that are looking at businesses one of the ways that if the seller of the business has never gotten on a plane, spend some time with the manufacturers in China. There’s probably a good growth opportunity in terms of bottom-line maybe terms and do that. How often do you feel it’s necessary to go over?

Carl: Maybe once a year if that, if not once every couple of years even. The first meeting is the best. If you can spend a good week there. It makes a huge difference.

Joe: You say [inaudible 00:28:42.4] every day or are they taking you beyond the manufacturing facility and recommending other things that you can see in China as a tour?

Carl: So we had two manufacturers. Actually the first time we went to we sort of split our time three days with this one three days with that one. And we saw them every day while we were there. We didn’t know anything about anything. And we totally explained to them look if you have a business to take care of we can take care of ourselves we’ll walk around town and just entertain ourselves with the new sights. But they were pretty adamant about wanting to be with us every day. So that’s just how it shook out.

Joe: Terrific, that’s fantastic. Okay, so a little bit of a tangent there folks but a great recommendation in terms of being a buyer and how to improve the bottom line numbers.

Carl: Sure.

Joe: Alright, so you’re going to improve the discretionary earnings on this business that you already have a quarter-million dollars in terms of equity when you bought it by another 80 to 90%. How long is it going to take that to happen in terms of buying the product and getting it in?

Carl: Probably two months. So in two months, we’ll start to see those savings in two months. We already have about three or four months of inventory on hand so it’s plenty of pad to get the new inventory up and running. But that’s probably what’s going to happen. And then it’ll take another year to log that. A year afterward to log that in as actual recorded earnings.

Joe: Right. You’re thinking in terms of a resale of the business, total discretionary earnings on the trailing twelve.

Carl: Days to log in the equity; right.

Joe: The equity itself. Yeah, we have in the past when the cost of goods sold has been dramatically reduced then ordered hit FBA and sales occurred. We have been able to do an add back. And for folks that haven’t already heard the podcast on the sale, I did with Mike Jackness on Colorit, Google Quiet Light Podcast Mike Jackness ColorIt or even eComcrew. Mike did a series and honestly, he’s a fantastic podcaster if you haven’t heard it. I think it’s episode 247, 257. Just Google Quiet Light ColorIt eComcrew podcast and learn. Because you actually learn from somebody that’s sold a business. And some of the trials and tribulations we went through when you’ve got four brands in one seller account under one LLC and you’re only actually selling one of them. So sellers out there doing that please listen and learn because it’s a major challenge. But we got through it. What other things Carl would you recommend to people that are buying a business when they’re looking at things like you have and approaching it? You’ve done something I think really really impressive here; hanging in here for seven and a half months to get the deal closed. Building and maintaining a good relationship with the guy selling the business so he trusted you. We talk about the four pillars here at Quiet Light, well that’s the fifth one right there. It’s being a good guy, being likable, building good relationships with either your buyer or your seller. What other things do you think are critical when you’re buying a business? As people are looking all the time they’re looking at lots of things before they find the right fit. What would you recommend they do?

Carl: The first thing that comes to mind is anything sold at 5 million we’re really looking at SBA funds. I think what I said earlier about just being forefront on pushing the ball into the lender’s court; that is so important. If you’re lagging on documents then it can damage the entire transaction and the relationship with the buyer. They see that you’re lagging. So I mean that is underrated. I’ve always been a punctual person but I never realized how much that really plays in the business on different levels. I think one of the things that helped me was having built an Amazon business before so I really was comfortable with all of the key metrics and some of the red flags on the account didn’t bother me at all because I knew that those specific things were common given the circumstances. So I think it really helps to either have that background or start small. I would never have jumped into this with both feet at this dollar amount with no prior experience. I think I would have rather pick something maybe 10 times less or maybe five times smaller and just gone in with an attitude of this is my intuition and I’m going to learn here. The mistakes I’m going to make, at least I’ll probably break even. It’s going to be cheaper than college and more lucrative. I think going into a smaller deal is still a good idea even if you can’t put up big numbers to show off to your friends. It’s not what it’s about, right? Get that experience under your belt and then you can make really good decisions down the road. So buying small is good, starting out from scratch I think is a great experience as well. It takes time but you’re better off putting in time than losing tons of money I think.

Joe: What about finding a mentor? You clearly did that. That’s one of the things you mentioned. The kid in the neighborhood that was doing a million on Amazon.

Carl: Yeah. To be fair he really just pointed me in the direction of YouTube. That was his biggest recommendation. And I mean you can learn a ton just by listening to people. A lot of my mentors don’t know me. I get them in books. I get them in podcasts like this one. I get them in blogs. So there’s a lot of free information out there I never took a course and I feel like I’ve done pretty well.

Joe: Well, obviously you’ve done pretty well. I got to tell you just the YouTube thing I’ve got a 17-year-old and anything he needs to learn it’s on YouTube.

Carl: Yeah.

Joe: I’m 63 so anybody my age, learn from Carl and those younger; anything you want it’s on—

Carl: It’s crazy. It’s information at your fingertips.

Joe: At your fingertips and it’s free; that’s right. Alright, then this is great. We’re just about out of time. I appreciate the last nine or 10 months. And I’m looking forward to working with you in the future on some other transaction as well.

Carl: Oh definitely. That is not the end.

Joe: Alright, thanks for all your time. I appreciate it, your patience and congrats on such a great business that you’ve got here.

Carl: Thank you, Joe. I appreciate it.

Links and Resources:

Mike Jackness Episode

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.