A Tale of Two Exits: The Lessons I’ve Learned from Selling My Businesses

by | Jan 8, 2021

“Someone once told me that if your company doesn’t have an exit plan, then it’s just a hobby,” explains Anthony McGaw, co-founder of AOB.

He’s had two successful exits, but they were chalk and cheese.

The first was from Babel Media, an agency with 300 employees and offices worldwide.

“We’d taken on venture capital investment, and we always had a plan that we wanted to exit,” he says. “However, it was quite an aggressive strategy for what we wanted to do and how we wanted to achieve it.”

The second, from Liquid Violet, was a different kettle of fish. It only had one full-time employee at the time and served a much smaller niche.

“On the surface, it didn’t look like a company that could be sold,” he explains. “When were approached, we told them it was three years too early for us! The opportunity came along before we had imagined that it could happen. And because we weren’t so desperate to sell, it gave us a slightly different attitude.”

Having already a much longer, more painful exit before – complete with very expensive lawyers – he had a much smoother ride on the second attempt.

One of his most important pieces of advice is to be prepared for an exit, even if you don’t plan to do so for a long time.

“By defining an exit strategy before you need to, you’ll be in the best possible position when you come to sell. However, if you’re unprepared when an opportunity presents itself, you face scrambling to provide what’s necessary, and could find a less attractive deal on the table as a result,” he warns.

In this session, Anthony will be telling us more about the mistakes he made, the good fortune he’s had, and the smarter decisions he’s made as a result of two distinct experiences. We’ll also cover:

•Understanding the value of your agency
•Your exit motivation – and how that affects negotiations
•How earn-outs can be structured and what you’re in control of