Selling a Business - Lessons from Mount Everest cover image
09 Sep 2009

Selling a Business - Lessons from Mount Everest


We know the person who knows your business best ... is you. Why?  Because, we’ve worked with many small business entrepreneurs who are, in fact, experts in their industries. However, when it comes to selling your business … are you mentally ready for this journey?

The Invisible Entrepreneur, invites you to consider a new way of doing business.  And, it’s not about adding more information to your well of knowledge.  It's simply all about you ….. because after all you are the only one who can bring about change in your business.

Consider that selling your business could be your personal Everest - your very own mountain to conquer. Right now, while you’ rereading this, you might not know exactly how you’re going to get there. But just as Sir Edmund Hillary got to the summit, you will too.

When Hillary set out to conquer Everest, he knew three things. First, he had an understanding of the scope of the challenge he was about to undertake. It was one fraught with danger and could even cost him his life. You may feel like you're navigating a dangerous course by transforming your business so it is attractive to a potential buyer.

Second, Hillary knew there was a lot he didn't know. But he knew he had to find the answers. No matter how experienced you are, no one has all the answers. Understanding your limitations doesn't make you less competent or less capable. The opposite is true. Smart entrepreneurs recognise their limitations and work out how to supplement any gaps in skill or knowledge.

Third, beyond seeking out answers from his own resources, Hillary also knew it was possible that many alternative solutions could exist. Solutions that hadn’t even been considered yet. Solutions and strategies beyond his current reality.

We all have blind spots. The trouble is we don't always know what they are. But we encourage you to remember that these blinds spots exist -and that the way to reveal and eliminate them is to open your mind to new solutions and new ideas. Or find a guide who can help you.

Sir Edmund Hillary recruited help from Tenzing Norgay, an experienced Sherpa. Norgay knew the landscape intimately. Where inexperienced eyes would see a mountain of difficulty, he saw a clear path. He could identify the dangers and manage the risks. Finally, he could guide a mountaineer to the summit and then negotiate a safe return.

You are not indispensable

One of the biggest hurdles for a small business entrepreneur to overcome is the idea that their business can function without them. Many entrepreneurs don't believe this is possible. They believe their business is different. They sincerely believe they are the lynchpin and that it simply couldn't operate without them.

For example: Does everything need your approval to go ahead? Do you believe that even small advertisements couldn’t appear in the local paper without you checking them first?

Or that a quote on supplying goods or services to a client couldn’t leave the office without your signature?

And are you insisting that copies of all booking slips for deliveries would be sent toy our in-tray so you could see that the order had been processed.

Are you one of those people who simply must know what’s going on - who wants to have a finger in every pie because that helps you pickup on things that might fall through cracks?

You may not be guilty of all these - but if you recognise some of these attributes, a good adviser, your Sherpa, will guide you. But...only if you are willing to listen.

In preparing your business for sale, you're about to enter uncharted territory - but you are not alone. Your guide is right here in your hands. And, while it will take you out of your comfort zone and into unexplored areas of your life, it will steer you in the right direction.

Louise Woodbury is the   co-author of The Invisible Entrepreneur.  You can order your copy from all major bookstores. ISBN or Tel 02 9955 8888.