UNCHARTED: Three Questions to Grow and Scale

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UNCHARTED: Three Questions to Grow and Scale


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Starting the conversation:

In this interview, listen in to Michelle Seiler Tucker, Founder and CEO of Seiler Tucker Incorporated, share the three questions every business must ask themselves. To help you answer those questions, it is imperative that you begin with the end in mind, reverse engineer, and keep working on the skills you need to move toward success. Jess Dewell and Michelle discuss what is important to remember in moving toward success.

What type of business are you in? Michelle Seiler Tucker, Founder and CEO of Seiler Tucker Incorporated, discusses the importance of always learning from leaders in industries different than yours. And, that the first step is to plan for what ending you have in mind.

Host: Jess Dewell

Guest: Michelle Seiler Tucker



ANNOUNCER 00:05 This is Uncharted, a series of candid conversations about facing uncertainty. When we are called upon to be courageous, the strength of our leadership is tested. Red Direction has developed the Fast Track Your Business program to help you stay aligned to your business’s true north. Jess Dewell is your guide. Jess brings you a 20-year track record of Business Excellence, where strategy and operations overlap. Your Path comes from consistently working from this special place. Your unique true north. Now, here’s Jess.

Jess Dewell: 00:40 Welcome back, everybody. This is the Bold Business Podcast. I’m your host Jess Dewell. And guess what? Guess what? I know every single one of you. If you haven’t thought about it, you will be thinking about it. And it’s when do I sell my business? What do I sell my business for? And can it actually help me get to the goals that I want outside of? But can it help me reach my bigger life goals? And guess what it can? It can, it can, and it can. Michelle Siler Tucker is here with me today. She is the CEO and founder of Siler Tucker Incorporated. She is an international M & A, mergers, and acquisitions transaction company, she’s worked with 1000s of companies to prepare to sell and to transition out of one ownership team into another ownership team. All right, let me see Oh, and she has she holds the M and AMI, which is different than just m&a stuff, people. It is mergers and acquisitions master intermediary. She’s also certified at mergers and acquisitions. As a professional, it comes with the designation CM and AP. She’s also a certified senior business analyst, a CS BA. And her firm is going strong, it is growing and like I already said, internationally, Michelle is representing buyers and sellers to make sure that they’re well valued, that the transition is what happens. And she’s going to give us some of the dirt on the inside. From companies, I say dirt in a very good positive way because we want them goods. And not only that she’s going to be sharing this experience with us specifically around some of the things and the experiences that she’s had. So that on this Uncharted, you’re going to walk away with information that you know, is going to help you solve the problems that you are working on right now. Michelle, welcome to this podcast.

Michelle Seiler Tucker 02:42 Yeah, thank you for having me.

Jess Dewell: 02:44 Yeah. For those of you listening, you don’t get to see this cool background she has it says Exit Rich, which is the title of her book. So not only did I forgot to say she’s an author, Michelle, I forgot to say you’re an author, too. Okay. What made you decide to write a book?

Exit Rich Book


Michelle Seiler Tucker 03:01 Well, I’ve written three books. Yeah. And think, Oh, really got me started. I’m always written as a little girl. I write poems, I write lyrics, you know? Alright, short, short stories. What got me into writing books about selling your business is about 20 years ago, when I entered this industry, I realized very quickly that what Steve Forbes says is true. Eight out of 10 businesses won’t sell. So 80% of the companies up for sale will never sell. So that’s why I wrote my first book in 2013, which was called Selling Your Business for more than it’s Worth. And my book that’s coming out right now, which is called exit rich.

Jess Dewell: 03:39 And, you know, one of the things that we do on uncharted is we talk about the experiences, where there was some sort of a challenge, and I know that selling a business is not easy. I’ve done it. You’ve done it way more than I have. And I think about this and I think about you know, the trials and the tribulations, and then I think about doing it again, and I’m like, Oh my gosh, not only am I gripped with fear, I’m like, is the same thing gonna happen again? How many transactions out of the 1,000s Have you done have been by the book.

Michelle Seiler Tucker 04:17 None of them have been by the book.

Jess Dewell: 04:21 So we don’t even have to think of worry about that. We don’t have to worry about having something go buy the book, because apparently, we think there’s a book but there’s no book.

Michelle Seiler Tucker 04:30 Well, there’s a book called Exit Rich.

Jess Dewell: 04:33 I love that.

Michelle Seiler Tucker 04:36 Yeah, and if they read out, they build their business is actually sellable, then it’ll be a lot smoother transition, and they’ll be able to maximize the price of their business.

Jess Dewell: 04:45 What’s the biggest obstacle that you see business owners when they’re coming to you to start their process or they’re saying I’m ready right now? Here we go. And they show up with something that’s less than ideal. What what are those obstacles that you find like the biggest one or two?

Michelle Seiler Tucker 05:00 Sure, there’s so many. But the biggest one, you know, the reason why 80% of businesses don’t sell is because business owners don’t think about selling. They haven’t planned for their exit for the seller their business, they don’t think about it until a catastrophic event occurs. And that could be internal, which is health issues, partner dispute, divorce death, or this pandemic that we’re in. That’s the worst time to sell your business is when you’re in a catastrophic event, you really need to plan your exit. Now listen to this, because I know this sounds strange to everybody. But you must plan your exit from the beginning. You know, let’s plan your exit from the beginning. It’s called the STGPS Exit Model. And the reason for that is because you want, you know, business owners think about their business as their baby. That’s true, and they never really plan for it or grow it like the valuable asset that it is. And your business can be your biggest retirement fund. I mean, you can sell your business for millions, if you grow a million-dollar company, a multimillion-dollar company. So the GPS Exit Model is all about determining your endgame from your start starting a business or buying a business. And it’s kind of like Jess when you drive somewhere. What’s the first thing you do you pull out your phone? You go to Google Maps, and you plug in your destination, right? Yep. So business owners don’t have a destination. They’re driving around in circles going up and down in financial hills, and most of them will end up broke, most of them will end up selling for pennies on the dollar don’t end up going out of business or an appalling bankruptcy in 2013 when I wrote Sell Your Business from for More Than it’s Worth and did a research 95% of startups were going out of business. 95% when I wrote Exit Rich, I realized that the business landscape has changed dramatically. Now only 30% of startups go out of business. But out of 27 point 6 million companies, those businesses have been in business 10 years or longer. 70% of those businesses are going out of business; 70% you hear about the big box companies like Toys R Us been in business 35 years goes out of business, Kmart, Montgomery, Ward’s JC Penney’s, Godiva chocolate, closing down 1,500 locations. And the main reason for that is because business owners stopped in what I call aim, aim. Aim is Always Innovate and Market, they stop innovating. They stopped marketing Toys R Us to nothing different, you know, in 75 years. So that’s why I wrote Exit Rich to begin with is, so business owners know, look, you really got to figure out your endgame. Right? Number one, right? Yeah, destination, what do you want to sell your business for? Let’s say you want to sell your business for $5 million, or $10 million, let’s say $10 million. Jess, business owners get hung up on a number, don’t get hung up on a number, just pick a number, you might make it you might not. But pick a number. So let’s say you want to sell for $10 million. Now, what does the GPS model need to know where you’re starting from? What is your current valuation? Now, you’d be surprised how many business owners who never had their business evaluated. They don’t even know what their business is worth? You must always know what your business is worth every year. Because there are events that increase valuation, right? Yep, they’re events that decrease valuation like this pandemic we’re in. So you always need to know what your business is worth its financial suicide, not to know and not to get what I call an annual valuation checkup, right? Let’s say you want to sell for 10 million, and you’re worth a million. Now you need to know timeframe? Yep. Let’s say you want to do it in 10 years, you have a start of a plan, I have to reverse engineer it. Now you need to go well, now you need to ask yourself, who am I buyer is going to be? Those five types of buyers. Now notice I said buyers not buyer. Because you can put all your eggs in one buyer’s basket, that buyer probably will not close on a sale of your business Plus, you will never maximize value and get the highest price if you don’t have competition.

Jess Dewell: 08:47 So before we continue, Yes, that’s true. And so before we continue, I want to know, you know, because it’s interesting, of course, we need the destination. And we think about it when we were in a job before we started our own company. We think about it when we were starting out not as we were climbing our business ladder and our career path and achieving more and more and more. And, you know, to your point, I’m going to bring in a classic that complements and reinforces everything that you’ve said that comes out of, you know, Forbes and which is Stephen Covey, Start with the End in Mind. It’s one of the skills that we practice about how to sell, how to connect how to send a frickin email. Sometimes I have to tell you, that is hard for me, Michelle is to just make sure that I’m consistent and understanding what is the purpose of me having this communication. And it sounds daunting, but you know what, when we have that destination in mind, what I understand is that we get to we get to go forward with much more intention. That’s what I’m hearing you talk about the amount of intention that we’re bringing. Now tell me this. What’s your end in mind?

Michelle Seiler Tucker 09:54 Yeah, well, I have lots of different businesses. Yeah. So what’s my end in mind for what business, you know, all of my businesses I built to sell. So I don’t just sell businesses, I build businesses to sell I partner with business owners, I invest my money, my expertise, my resources, and I put them on a three to five-year Built to Sell program and I take equity in the company. I also buy businesses and flip them. So at any given time, I own five to 10 different companies and different verticals that I’m building to sell. So I’m always building to sell businesses. As far as my m&a firm. Yes, I will sell that one day, probably in about 10 to 15 years when this isn’t fun for me anymore. But as far as my other businesses, I’m building those to sell. Yeah, and always follow my own advice, always follow my own GPS exit model. And I build them from the beginning to sell.

Jess Dewell: 10:45 Okay, people, I want you to hear what Michelle just shared, she shared, she does this for fun. This is great, exciting work for her. She brings incredible knowledge. And she has different intentions depending on the type of investment and that she is working with. However, what I hear you saying, Michelle, so even though you said you have a lot of different businesses, which I think is great, you actually are providing the service of I’m practicing the, I’m practicing the principles. And I know this works because I am. Rinse and repeat is kind of cliche, but at the same point in knowing that there’s no real playbook because nothing goes by the book. But there are those elements that we can do to get started. And that’s where we started talking about knowing the end in mind, what is that plan? And so over 20 years ago, when you got into this industry, why did you want to be in N&A in the first place?

Michelle Seiler Tucker 11:37 I never, I never said oh, I want to sell businesses.

Jess Dewell: 11:42 I’m curious because you are one amazingly successful person. And I’m like, Did you always want to do this?

Michelle Seiler Tucker 11:48 No, I always, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur always knew I was gonna be an entrepreneur. I’ve always owned small businesses from a very young age. And I did go to work for corporate America, I went to work for Xerox for just a short period of time because I realized that my guess, and then I went into franchise sells franchise consulting franchise development, and never said, Oh, I’m going to go into franchise sales, franchise development franchise consulting, I was looking to, at some point, leave Xerox and that’s when I stumbled across a franchise or and I said, we want you to be a partner with us. So I ended up becoming a partner with several different franchise doors. And that’s when I started my consulting practice. And but I found myself, I kept saying no, because buyers will come to me, and they will want to buy an existing business didn’t want to buy a franchise, franchise is not for everybody. And I can say no, no, no, I’m all about law of attraction. And I’m all about Yes, yes, you know, so I said, Gosh, I need to sort of m&a practice. And that’s really how I started my m&a practice. I always knew I was an entrepreneur always know I would own businesses. Yeah, I always knew I would be my own boss. I didn’t wake up one day, though. And Sam would sell companies, I did always know I would be in some type of sells. big ticket sells.

Jess Dewell: 13:03 Isn’t that amazing? That you we know what we’re drawn to? I love that you say that? You’re all about the Yes. Because I bet that comes in to not only that three to five-year growth plan, but also the, the concept of the negotiation itself. Right. Right. And, and I actually wonder if the concept of negotiation is scarier for people than the fact that they might be selling their child. You know what I mean? It’s interesting because all of our fears stem from different places. But I know that negotiation, how do I have to show up? Am I supposed to do a traditional, whatever we think of sales in our traditional mind because there are so many variations of sales out there? How did you find out that you were all about the Yes?

Michelle Seiler Tucker 13:54 I’m How did I find out I was all about the as well. I don’t like saying no, I’m always been kind of a once one-stop-shop, you know if I can provide consulting if I can provide this if I can provide that. But that’s why I really specialize in buying, selling fixing growing businesses, not just selling businesses, because remember, 80% of businesses won’t sell it’s all starve to death. But I’ve always so Jamar, I’m always about Brian’s revenue streams, you know, being can grind and saying yes, for me, is I just think you have so much more opportunity when you say yes when you keep saying no, no, no, then you know, people stop asking, right? Boy, Isn’t that the truth? That’s exactly you also got to know what to say no to because you can’t say yes to everything. So there’s a bound and well some type of balance that you have to find for yourself. To say yes to you gotta know what to say no to I mean, just like clients, you know. There’s a certain level of businesses I sell, there’s a certain level I don’t sell that. I say no. too, so but my team takes those. So you really got to know what works for you. And it’s got to align with your values and your goals.

Jess Dewell: 15:09 What’s one of your biggest values that guides you toward that? Being about the Yes.
Michelle Seiler Tucker 15:15 I would say intuition. You know, I’m a pretty good gut girl. Yeah, I’ve got, you know, sometimes I don’t listen to my intuition gets me in trouble. Like, every time I look at something, I’m like, you know, what if I were to just listen to my gut, rot, and never made that decision? So I think I’m a good intuition person. And it’s all about growth. For me, it’s all about growth, you know, you’re either learning or you’re either dying or growing. Right? So for me, it’s all about learning. It’s all about growth. It’s all about innovation. It’s all about doing something different. And it’s also about providing wow experiences for my clients.

Jess Dewell: 15:51 Did you just say wild experiences?

Michelle Seiler Tucker 15:53 Wow. Wow.

Jess Dewell: 15:54 Okay, I missed it all.

Michelle Seiler Tucker 15:55 While not while. Wow, the other w.

Jess Dewell: 15:59 w. o. w.

Michelle Seiler Tucker 16:01 I was like, wow,
16:02 I wish I’d met you earlier, Michelle. Actually, for both reasons, the Well, maybe not the wild. And so you know, I’m thinking about exit rich, and I’m thinking about all of the years of experience and transactions that you’re bringing to the table. And I know, one of the things that’s in your book that you talk about a lot is understanding what kind of business are you? And to me, there’s an element of Well, I have to start with the end in mind. Don’t I have to know who I am to know what my end is going to be?

Michelle Seiler Tucker 16:37 Yes. Yes. And yes. But yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, exactly. Absolutely. Yeah, you have to know who you are. But you know, to start with your end in mind, as far as picking a number. Look, I want business owners to plan, business owners don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. And that’s why 80% That’s why 70% of business owners are dying right now. And this was before COVID. So exit rich is all about getting business owners to think about their business as their asset, their most valuable asset, not their baby. And it’s all about getting them to actually have an exit plan, versus just thinking about selling when you’re burned out or thinking about selling when, you know, something bad happened. I mean, I had a sweet little lady called me a couple months ago, her husband dropped dead of a heart attack, left her with a power debt. And she said, Honey, can you sell my husband’s business? You know, I don’t know what to do. And so I asked her all these questions and took her through this process. And he had a construction business, he had no employees, no people, people as a first p in the st. infrastructure is the first p he had no people, he had all subcontractors, he had no processes, which is the therapy and as T six PS, and he had nothing to sell because when he everything was in his head when he died, the business died, you know, so it’s really imperative to get business owners to change your mindset, and to really start thinking about the business as the most valuable asset and set themselves up for success. And most importantly, set your family up for success. So that doesn’t happen to you, you know? Yeah.

Jess Dewell: 18:13 And that’s okay. So, um, yes, I’m glad you talked about people because that was something else that was on my radar. And you also hit the process, getting, getting it out of your head, and all of that to your point of the very beginning, if we were to put an exclamation point, right after one word, it would be the plan, exclamation point, the plan. And so, you know, when I’m asking myself the question, what kind of business am I? What kind of business do I have? What does that actually mean? And why is it important?

Michelle Seiler Tucker 18:44 Yeah. So that’s, that’s a great question. So the reason that’s so important, you asked me in the beginning, what are some of the mistakes that business owners make? One of them was not planning for their exit not, you know, not thinking about it until they have to. The second one is not really understanding their business and what type of business they have. Because a lot of business owners have what I call a glorified job, and why should go to work at every day versus a business that actually works for them. The business is 1,000% dependent upon the owner, and the business is not sellable. Just like in the case of this construction company. So there’s seven types of different businesses. We have us quiz at Soccer Academy, where your listeners can go take a quiz and figure out what kind of business owner they are or what kind of business they own. And so you have the small mom-and-pop business and this business. Well, let me back up a little bit. You have let’s say you have a photographer, one photographer, I do it okay, that’s hard to sell. You take that photographer out of the business or has no business.

Jess Dewell: 19:45 It requires this photographer come back in. So the pool of the pool of buyers is incredibly small.

Michelle Seiler Tucker 19:51 You have a dentist, we have a dentist who just came to us and wants us out. It’s been in business for 45 years. One dentist, three dental hygienists I said I can sell your business However, you’re going to have to stay for a few years. He said I’m not staying. I said, Well, then we’re not selling. Because we’re many you leave the clients leave. So you had to look at your business and ask him, I call it in my book, a one-man, one-woman, one-man show business, meaning that the business can’t operate without you because you are the talent you love that business. If you’re a consultant, and you don’t have any consultants, unreal, when that consultant leaves, the clients leave, yep. Okay. So that’s one man, one-woman show business. So you have what I call small business, or it’s got two or three or four employees, maybe a small coffee shop, maybe a small ice cream store, you know, it’s more dry cleaners, and that businesses 100% dependent upon the owner. Hmm. And then you got a business that maybe it’s a little bit bigger, it’s got, you know, 10 1520 employees been around for a while, you know, and then all the way up into m&a businesses. So there’s seven different types that I explained in Exit Rich.

Jess Dewell: 20:54 right. So you have it, there’s one of seven that you could be and, and each one has its challenges, and each one has its influence on evaluation? And is accurate?

Michelle Seiler Tucker 21:05 That is correct. Because here’s the deal, even if you’ve been in business for decades because one of the categories has been in business for decades. And Scott employees, you know, how’s everything, however, you’re probably you might be one of those businesses have been in business for decades and stop innovating and stop marketing, and you’re in that 70% category and are at risk of going out of business. Right?

Jess Dewell: 21:27 That’s exactly right. And, you know, to your point, every business is, is reducing the amount of time today. And it’s an and I would be curious from you. And I know this is probably an opinion, and from having experience here and trusting that gut that you have. So my question is, well, why do companies on the fortune 500 companies, why are they publicly traded as much as 25 years less than their counterparts or the than their peers 50 years ago?

Michelle Seiler Tucker 22:02 Well, yeah, go ahead. I’m sorry. I’m trying to say repeat the question why,

Jess Dewell: 22:06 let me tell you, the amount of time of businesses and business is decreasing. You have said Oh, yes, yes. So what is your, what is your thought? What is your theory as to why that’s happening today? Well,

Michelle Seiler Tucker 22:18 I’ve already said it is because business owners stop doing what I call aim. They stop innovating Toys R Us did nothing different in 75 years, Toys R Us 75 years ago, built the business on the grocery store concept, and never really innovated. Right? So it’s because they stopped innovating. They stopped doing things differently. The reason why startups are not going out of business now is because you’ve got so many young entrepreneurs, Millennials are coming. They’re solving problems. They’re coming out with businesses that are solution-oriented and are solving problems. These businesses have been in business 10-15-20-25-30 years, they’re not doing anything different. And by the way, just the way that consumers do business, the way consumers purchase products and services has changed. And it was great.

Jess Dewell: 23:09 To I’m going to share two companies that I think are really important here. The first is Colgate. When I say Colgate What do you think of?

Michelle Seiler Tucker 23:17 Toothpaste. Right? When they started out? They were, they were a soap and cologne company. They figured out what was changing with time and they stayed true to I don’t know if you want to call it hygiene or if you want to call making us feel good about ourselves, whatever that is, right that appearance piece that that presentation piece. They stayed true to that vision. And they’ve adapted over time, candles to fragrance to toothpaste. right? How about Nintendo?

Michelle Seiler Tucker 23:46 Because they knew what the demand was right there.

Michelle Seiler Tucker 23:48 That’s right. They’re watching. And so they might not necessarily be innovating, but they’re watching so that they know that it’s time to innovate, right. I mean, I think we can, I think I think we can we don’t have to be innovative to be successful. I think we have to watch the trends. So we know when to innovate. That would be that

Michelle Seiler Tucker 24:05 I think you have to do both.

Jess Dewell: 24:07 I think it would depend on the leadership of the company. I think both are incredibly viable. And so the other company I wanted to talk about was Nintendo. Nintendo has been around for centuries. They’re over 100 years, actually, Colgate is to Coke. It’s like around 100. Nintendo has over 100. They, their mission, their vision is to bring multi-generational people together in engage. They’ve done that. They started before there was a computer. So people that are listening to me

Michelle Seiler Tucker 24:42 They continue to innovate, right?

Jess Dewell: 24:44 They continue to understand adapt well, and here’s the thing, Nintendo does not really, if you were to look at Nintendo compared to Microsoft Xbox. I think there’s a very big difference in the two companies and the way the graphics are and the way the things are. But I also think their missions are incredibly different, their visions, and what they’re trying to achieve in the world is incredibly different. So even though Microsoft Xbox competes with Nintendo, they don’t necessarily have to be direct competitors. And I’m going to go back to your point about know what kind of business you have. Because then you know who to be comparing yourself to, as well, as part of your plan to move forward. Is that, is that true? Is there something I’m missing in that?

Michelle Seiler Tucker 25:25 No, I think I think that’s very important. But you know, a lot of a lot of business owners think you need to learn from in your own industry. And I always say yes, however, you need to go outside your industry and learn from the raw leaders, you know, that the business leaders like Disney, you know, Disney is great, great example of a company to learn from so as Apple, you know, so as Amazon fried chicken, so so is Amazon. Yeah. Kentucky Fried Chicken in the top 10. As far as …

Jess Dewell: 25:57 Well, he’s not but he failed a lot. That’s the thing. He failed a lot. And then still look what happened. So no, while he’s not in the top 10. I still think right? Yeah,

Michelle Seiler Tucker 26:05 Right. Good point. Oh, I should always learn from somebody else. I’m sorry. What was that?

Jess Dewell: 26:10 I said, I said, Oh, good. You don’t have to answer that part. Who, okay. always learn from something else I wanted. I interrupted you saying that. So I wanted you to be able to.

Michelle Seiler Tucker 26:17 Always learn from other industries. Yeah. Yeah.

Jess Dewell: 26:22 You know, I think that’s one.

Michelle Seiler Tucker 26:23 That’s industries have courses. A lot of these businesses like let’s call it has courses you can take, yeah, Disney has courses you can take Absolutely. You can go and learn from other industries so that you can innovate and become a leader in yours. I mean, Steve Jobs, you know, talk about innovation, right? He came back to Apple, Apple was on the brink of going out of business. And Steve Jobs came in and he was pre m&a. And he innovating is like, what, what business? Are we in? You know, these are three questions I always tell my business owners themselves, you know, is number one is, what business are you in? and Amazon did this back in the 90s. ask themselves what business we’re in and they said, we’re in the bookselling business, we sell books. Second question is, what do we do better than everybody else? What’s our core competency? You know you got to figure that out. What’s your USP, your unique selling proposition? and Amazon said we’re the best of fulfillment we do for my better than anyone. And then the third most important question is what business should, should we then? and Amazon says, we should be in a fulfillment business. We shouldn’t just be fulfilling books, we should be fulfilling everything. Those three questions is what took Amazon from the small bookseller to a multi-billion dollar worldwide conglomerate that they are today.

ANNOUNCER: 27:42 You’ve been listening to Uncharted. Fast Track Your Business subscribers receive access to a vast set of resources, including extended conversations to this and other Uncharted episodes. Visit FastTrackYourBusinesstoday.com. Your preparedness and the right perspective is absolutely necessary when you find yourself somewhere Uncharted. Special thanks to The SCOTT Treatment for production assistance.