I recently attended a women’s networking event featuring a panel populated by a few of the guys from Dragon’s Den along with two successful female entrepreneurs. During the lunch, someone introduced the always prickly subject of building your business up to a point at which you’re in a position to sell it. The wet and winsome responses I heard in response mystified me as much as any conversation on this subject with fellow members of my sex always does.
It amazed me to hear the number of women speak of their business as if it were their baby. You could hear in their tone, if not their language, this primal connection they felt for their little going-concerns. So much emotion attached to these vehicles of commerce that these business owners could hardly speak of it without a catch in their voice and a surfeit of sentiment in their eyes.
It could be that I’m overstating the point, but certainly it’s fair to say that these women could simply not imagine selling the thing that they had made, the sometimes unassailable wisdom of doing so notwithstanding.
I’m not sure if this is a female-versus-male kind of thing, but if it is, then I’m herewith laying claim to the mind of a man.
Come on, folks. It’s a business, full stop.
It is, at the end of the day, little more than a stack of papers that make provisions for the sale of something that you have decided is worth a certain value—and someone else has agreed. I made partner at Deloitte for one reason and one reason only: I build businesses. Within the framework of Deloitte, it was a “service line” I was putting together, admittedly, but the final product amounted to a self-sustaining business within a larger model.
Today, I am building 360 along the same route, and not one of my employees imagines that there won’t come a day when I will sell the thing out from under the lot of us. It may be to them (the employees), it may be to another business, it may be to Daffy Duck—who knows? But my intent to sell is real, and I’ll make no provision for any emotions that might crowd this decision.
As for the question of when, well, I don’t know that, either. At $5m? Maybe. At $10m? Could be. At $25m? I can’t say for sure.
But I do know this thing: emotions will not play any part in my decision. And if that’s cold-hearted of me, particularly considering my repeat spot in Profit magazine’s W100 list, Canada’s largest annual celebration of entrepreneurial achievement by women, then so be it.
But I prefer to think of such things simply as cleaning up the table before starting another project on it.
Just like a woman.