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When a Death Notice Brought Life to a Business

When a Death Notice Brought Life to a Business

February 14, 2013

No one wants to hear his doctor say, "you have nine months to live."

But that's exactly how Dr. Newsome greeted his patient, Michael, a 52-year old tech wizard who built a dynamic, multi-million dollar business online.  

Michael was faced with a test he never thought he'd meet. He had to build the strength to fight irreversible prostate cancer. How would he tell his family? What about his employees? And what in world would he do about his business? 

What would you do with only nine months to live?

With 20 employees and 24/7 client service, Michael’s days and nights ran into each other. He worried when servers went down. He fret when techs got sick. He sprinted between appointments. He cancelled lunch with his wife so often that she wouldn't go anymore. Stress levels were off the chart.  

But without Michael’s leadership, not much got done in his business. Clients wanted him, not his employees. Employees want him to solve their problems.

He’d always thought he could handle the Big C, if it ever happened. But a death notice?  Michael’s grief masqueraded as denial, then surged as anger, then flattened him with depression. Often, in the same day.

Michael wasn’t a bucket lister. He didn’t want to skydive or swim with sharks. He wanted more time with his family. He wanted to know they could survive in a future without him. He had to set them up for success.

Once he accepted his fate, Michael sought help. He knew he had to sell his business, and fast.  

I know this because he sought out a mentor.

The Great Exodus

Michael is a poster child for the 10 million Boomers who could suddenly need to sell their businesses. And they’re not prepared!

This creates what I call The Great Exodus. These businesses will face fierce competition when they're ready to sell. Inc. Magazine calculates that over the next 5-10 years 65-75% of the 10 million small companies who will put their businesses up for sale will successfully sell their company. That’s 1-2 million companies being sold a year. Did you get that? That's about 20,000 to 40,000 companies sold every week!

It's not just a good idea, but absolutely vital to have your business be a valuable, attractive asset.

What’s more, cites Bizfilings.com, is that up to 90% of small businesses and more than half of mid-sized businesses sell their companies with seller financing. This will force the owner to stay with the company for about 5-10 years, after he "sold" the company! Not exactly the vision of retirement most business owners have.  

Many owners complain, "my business is just not sellable."

Here's the reality: If you can’t sell your business, it’s not a business. If it’s not an asset that gives you any freedom then it’s just a glorified JOB.

Here's how Michael built his business into a asset.

Michael started our “Build-to-Sell” program. He began working with a master mentor who got down in the weeds of Michael’s business.

They soon discovered weak spots in employee performance, business operations, marketing and sales. Their top concern, given Michael’s diagnosis, was the urgent need to build a sellable asset, and create an exit strategy and succession plan. They got underway immediately.

No Upward Jumping Monkeys

Michael set out to create "freedom teams and freedom systems", removing himself from daily operations one role at a time. He built self-sufficiency into his staff, and created a Path of Ascension (LINK) for each team member.

Michael had to learn how to fight off what I call "upward jumping monkeys."  These are problems which employees carry on their backs and instead of dealing with them, they pass them "up" to the leader. Michael taught his employees problem solving and empowered them. Then, he resisted the temptation to jump in and take over if something didn't go as planned.


Next, Michael launched Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for his freedom teams. KPIs are objective metrics which measure your business's performance. These could be sales figures, outbound and inbound calls in relation to number of returns, appointments, consultations, or any number of metrics which matter for your business.

KPIs produce employee accountability from Very Important Progress signals.

Michael now had actual metrics to measure success in the present and for the future.

Next, Michael pored over his books and got his financials in order.

He was making progress but he still had some ground to cover and not much time left.  


He wanted to create a meaningful, sustainable team culture. Michael launched his MV2P program to help him establish a clear Mission, Vision, Values and Purpose for his business. Having an MV2P is one of the greatest business investments owner can make.

Here’s why: 

At a 2012 State of the Business Owner survey of 800 businesses worldwide, Synotac/eMyth revealed that 42 % of businesses with a written vision of their business grew 50% faster and were 30% larger than those without.

So, Michael pulled his team together, shared his vision, set new goals, and rallied his troops.

Next, Michael and his mentor dug into his company's marketing. He focused on elements found in two chapters of our marketing playbook: the  irresistible offer and  the Big Zig.

Michael was feeling freer and freer from his business. It was slowly turning into an actual asset. He was so motivate to create his business into an actual asset that despite his prostate surgery, he hadn’t thought about his cancer in months.

Here’s the shocker.

Back at the clinic again, Michael faced the disease that wanted his life. The doctor greeted Michael with a smile and shook his hand. “Michael, there’s no evidence of the cancer. It’s vanished!  Just be sure to retest each year. Cancer-free means you have to watch it.”

A stunned, surprised and incredibly grateful Michael sat speechless. He  had a new lease on life. After some refection, Michael had a sobering thought:  “What if I hadn’t gotten cancer?  Would I have stepped up and fixed my business?"

But getting that death notice forced him to revitalize his business. He threw off the upward jumping monkeys. Created freedom systems managed by freedom teams. Cleaned up his books.  And ignited the work culture with fresh energy.

Today, when Michael hits the office, his experience is totally different. Sales are up. Employees are happy. The entire team is working smart. And he’s seeing more of his family, finally.

Michael now sits on top of the best of both worlds - a business that can run without him, with the choice to keep it or sell it.

If you’re a business owner, now is the time to build it to sell. Let me show you how to convert your paper worth to actual net worth by turning your business into an asset (not a liability), one that appreciates in value.

Call me at 410.235.7070, or CLICK HERE and we’ll schedule a FREE consultation. We'll help you find out what your business may be worth and how to build your business into an asset that will give you freedom, whether you're ready to sell now or not.


Taking you from where you are to where you want to go,

Jon Goldman                                                       

P.S. Due to the scope and intensity of the Build-to-Sell program, we limit the number of participants to ensure complete personal attention. Let’s talk soon.