How to Buy the Business You Work For
You know the old saying “if you want something done give it to a busy person”? That’s Kerry Boulton in a nutshell. Without a high school certificate Kerry dove headlong into work experience, took over the freight management company she worked for, sold it off, got a Master’s degree, taught MBA courses, started coaching business clients, and kicked off more than a few businesses--all the while living a family life.
Reflecting on her experience as a wife, Mum, entrepreneur, and business coach, Kerry passes on her wisdom to fellow entrepreneurs who haven’t yet decided what they’ll do next after they sell or retire. Believing that finding your purpose is the key question to ask before considering moving on or taking the next step, Kerry’s track record buying, selling, and moving into new businesses and industries means that you can take her word for it. (Even if her first retirement only lasted for two weeks.)
If you’re thinking about wrapping up a lifelong career in business or as an entrepreneur, you can’t miss this episode. From family tragedy to the loss of a colleague, Kerry’s long career has seen the ups, downs, successes, and heartbreak that come from running a business. Not sure where to go after you exit or retire? I think that Kerry Boulton will be just the guest for you.
What you will learn in this episode
In this episode we’ll cover everything from:
- Buying the business you work for
- The importance of having your business ready when you are tapped on the shoulder by an acquirer
- Having the right advisors to help you through an exit process, so you don’t get put through the acquirers process
- How vendor financing can make or break a business transaction
About Our Guest
When it comes to being able to ‘monetise’ a business for sale, Kerry Boulton has over $15.4 million worth of runs on the board from businesses she has successfully helped build and sell over the past three decades. Described by most people who meet her as an elegant, serial entrepreneur, Kerry was the first woman to manage and own an international freight forwarding company when she negotiated the buyout of Freight Management International, a division of the publicly listed company, Mayne Nickless Ltd. Following her purchase of Freight Management International in 1987, the business was successfully sold nine years later after a multimillion-dollar dollar turnaround – giving Kerry one of the biggest pay days of her career.
As founder and CEO of The Exit Strategy Group, she won the 1992 Telstra Business Award for Total Quality Management and was named Innovator of the Year by the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship in 1999.
Connect with Kerry Boulton
(3:15) The one lesson Kerry would pass on to others (don’t let your emotions get tied up in a business deal) and how her younger self could have benefitted from the same.
(7:15) How a newspaper book coupon helped Kerry write her first financial business plan and go on to secure funding and three shareholders.
(10.55) How vendor financing was used for the acquisition.
(11:00) One of Kerry’s biggest learnings was making sure you identify how all investors will get their money out.
(16:35) A common but heartbreaking experience among family owned businesses, Kerry discusses the process of breaking down company shares after the loss of her husband and what she learned about the importance of articulating how someone gets out.
(20:35) How the early 90’s recession evaporated her first million dollar profit overnight--and how she pivoted her business model and processes in 12-months to turn around another $500,000.
(25:00) Even with a 4 x EBIT and two-year earn out, Kerry reflects on why partnering with someone experienced in business transactions would have helped get the full value for the company. (Beyond a lawyer.)
(30:48) Why she was happy after her two year earn out--and how much better off the buyer because of that acquisition.
(39:35:)One of Kerry’s top recommendations? Go and work in a business if you think you might want to buy it. Also-recognise that starting from scratch is hard work so if you can buy in, it’s a much better pathway.
(51:00) Kerry’s one take-away tip? Don’t wait until the last minute to think about selling and don’t wait until the last minute to think about what’s next. Also, think about growing your business for value and not just the bottom line.