By Salar Salahshoor, founder and CEO of Turnclick
When I first started thinking about selling my business, my biggest concern was that it would be hard to find a good suitor given the relatively small size of my company. I worried the process would be a big distraction and complete waste of time. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is the story of how I sold my digital-marketing agency, Only Sky, in less than one month by connecting the dots between EO and the EO Accelerator program, which I am a member of in San Francisco.
After five years of building my business, I decided to focus my time and energy on my family, health, and the other projects that were starving for my attention. As any agency owner knows, client service-based businesses are difficult to scale. I knew I couldn’t continue growing the business by 50% annually while maintaining the service quality our clients expect, given the increasingly competitive landscape and cost of talent in the Bay Area. So, I decided to find a partner who could help take things to the next level.
I started by connecting with agency owners who were only two or three steps ahead in their development, thinking they would be more likely to value the opportunity. I presented my business in a short email outlining the facts and requesting a discussion. To my surprise, every owner I approached wanted to talk and 80% were serious about the opportunity. This quickly became a full-time job, almost doubling my already 60-hour workweek. The overwhelming interest I received was encouraging, but I realized the process was going to take a long time and had a high probability of failure.
My greatest advantage, which I didn’t realize in the beginning, was the support of my coaches and mentors in EO. Without the guidance of Dan Clifford and TJ Van Voorhees, specifically, I would have been at a loss. They helped me make connections and focus on what mattered. The most important thing for me, more than the size of the exit, was finding a partner I could trust to manage my client relationships with the same care and quality that I espouse. My reputation was on the line, and my new challenge was vetting prospective buyers based on my confidence in their character, company culture and operational excellence. EO turned out to be the litmus test for these requirements.
By mid-May, I had received seven serious offers; three were from EO members in different cities. The difference in professionalism, business acumen and integrity when dealing with these members was stark in comparison with my other negotiations. After just one month of due diligence and a single flight to Utah, I decided to go with Jacob Baadsgaard and Disruptive Advertising. Jacob’s offer wasn’t the highest one I received, but his team demonstrated their passion for the business and driving results for their clients. I felt confident that my clients and staff would be in good hands, which was worth more to me than a slightly higher premium. I couldn’t have found a better business partner if I had spent another six months searching, and I ascribe this good fortune to the strong mission and quality of EO.
I believe these types of mutually beneficial opportunities are in abundance inside EO. This is my “call to action” for all EO members to get to know the EO Accelerator participants in their chapters. Whether you’re looking to expand your business through a strategic acquisition or find partners you can trust, there is a gold mine of value in these fledgling entrepreneurs peeking out at you. As for the EO Accelerator participants reading this, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and meet up with the EO members in your community. You will be learning lessons and making connections with some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, and it’s all within your grasp.