By Scott Bushkie
He hated to do laundry. That’s what I knew about this guy. Laundry was his least favorite household chore. The problem is, he wanted to buy a dry cleaning business.
This was many years ago, and I’m happy to say that even then I had enough sense to discourage him. “You need to be passionate about the business,” I told him. “If it doesn’t excite you, you won’t look for opportunities to grow.”
My warnings went unheeded. It was a profitable company and he was attracted to the cash flow. The sale went ahead.
A few years went by and business declined. He wasn’t really proud of the business and it didn’t match his interests. He ended up reselling for less than the purchase price.
Doing what you love—it’s a dream for many professionals. But for entrepreneurs, passion for your work isn’t just a goal, it’s an absolute necessity.
In this recession, many large companies are laying off people by the thousands and plenty of ambitious, talented people are finding themselves out of a job. The solution, for many, is to buy a business and take control of their own destiny.
For these buyers, it’s an exciting and an anxious time. But no matter how nervous you are, it’s important not to make knee-jerk decisions. Don’t rush into anything. Don’t, in essence, just buy yourself a job.
Take your time and find the right company that matches your skills and your interests. Find something you’re passionate about and can see yourself doing.
When someone at a party asks what you’re up to, you don’t want to wave them off with a dismissive “Ah, I’m running a dry cleaning business. It’s not real interesting but it pays the bills.”
You need to be proud of the company and energized about your goals: “I just bought this great dry cleaning business. There’s a solid team of employees, and I’m going to lead the market by converting to totally green processes.”
Yeah. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.
When buying a business, look at it as an investment, not just a career. Plan an exit strategy before you buy—whether you’ll to pass it on to a child, sell to employees, or resell to another investor.
Sure those plans can change, but if you establish some expectations from the beginning, you’ll set short-term goals to meet that long-term objective. In other words, plan to grow your investment rather than buy a job and hit a set salary.
Find something that you can get excited about. If you don’t love it, don’t believe in it, and aren’t proud of it, you’re going to get bored real fast. There aren’t any business ideas that can help a company you’re not in love with.
And when it comes to controlling your own destiny, nothing kills the entrepreneurial dream faster than disinterest.
Scott Bushkie is President of Cornerstone Business Services, a low-to-middle-market M&A firm. Reach him at 888-608-9138 or [email protected]