Printers ask me: “When is it time to sell or exit from my business?” Good question. Whenever that time is, we can’t wait until the last minute to position your business to attract a buyer.

Here’s one way to see where you are on the “readiness to sell” scale.

Think of a strike price. A strike price is a fantasy number of your choosing. If someone walked in and offered to buy the business — no questions asked — what would that offer have to be for you to say yes?

Printing company owners will pick an unrealistically high number if they are 10 years or more from selling or retiring.

If the horizon is 5 years, the number is more in line with what buyers are paying for businesses like theirs.

And if they are 3 years away, they say, “Let’s get a valuation and find out what we can get for this puppy.”

Many of my clients are in the 5 to 10-year range. The number they dream about as a fantasy strike price can seem impossible to them. 

For me, having a strike price that’s a stretch is fun and challenging. How can we grow the business to justify that number? What do we need to do to grow from the inside and position on the outside? That’s what I do best.colorful umbrellas floating in sky Selling print businesses


Without a strike price or exit point in mind, owners get too comfortable — or they get lost. Time passes. The people around them stop telling them the truth, and everyone’s vision of reality and the future gets blurry. Owners think their business will be a hot commodity when they sell, yet they may not be properly investing in their people, equipment, or infrastructure to get it to the strike price they have in mind. 

That’s why we set mileposts along the way. We regularly look internally and externally and measure reality against the desired outcome. Then we figure out what it will take to improve the value of the business.

Among my clients over the years, about 1 in 3 will sell to a family member, partner, or outside buyer. Instead of riding their business until death, they build the company to sell, and they get out with time to enjoy life. That’s a way to measure success — having a chance to enjoy life — and I’m proud to have a role when it happens. 

I bring this up because a client is about to transition his business. I’ve been through this enough times with clients to know it’s time to pack my Mary Poppins’ carpetbag. 

I’m getting better about letting go.

No, just kidding. I am terrible at letting go. I always remain friends with my clients as they head into a sale, succession, retirement, or whatever’s next. For this client, I will miss our ambitious conversations and our celebrations when we achieve those “impossible” goals. 

So if you want to know if this is a good time to sell your business, my question back to you is this:

Is there a milestone or signal — maybe a strike price that is starting to sound attractive — or something else that is telling you it’s time to exit, sell, or make a change? 

Let’s explore this signal. Let’s see where you are and where you could be. Let’s plan the next 3, 5, or 10 years and aim high.

If you never decide ahead of time where you’re headed, you’ll never know when you get there. 

“Everything is possible. Even the impossible.” ~ Mary Poppins

Amazing things are happening to people all around you every day. You are worthy. Be bold! Dream big! 


Last month’s post by Sandy:

See all of Sandy’s posts here.

Sandy Hubbard is Chief Marketing Advisor and Marketing Strategist for the Printing Industry. She helps owners and sales-marketing leaders grow from the inside and position the business powerfully to the outside.

Sandy is the host of #PrintChat, a weekly online community on LinkedIn. She has been a regular contributor to Print Media Centr’s newsletter since 2011.

Image credit: “Umbrellas Sky” via Raw Pixel. Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons



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