When a soldier returns to civilian life, they may find a new entrepreneurial calling. After Ryan Guina retired from the military, he started building businesses and found his way through the sales process with the help of his sales team and learning along the way.
Without services like Plan for the Sale, a multimedia educational and networking tool for business owners, entrepreneurs like Guina build a company and eventually have to acquire the knowledge to successfully sell their prized endeavor. Guina surrounded himself with the right people to guide his unsolicited sale, and he gathered some lessons to help him know better for any future deals.
When Guina joined civilan life, he had to adjust to a new role with new rules. He learned about mortgages and different types of health insurance coverage. His change in lifestyle changed his vocation and he built two successful business projects, Cash Money Life, a personal finance site, and The Military Wallet, a personal finance site specifically for active duty and retired military personnel and their families.
This niche grew profitable. Cash Money Life was the first of his sites to gain buyer attention. He started getting unsolicited offers to buy the site. Guina was curious to see what could happen with sales discussions, but he didn’t initially enter these relationships with the intent to sell.
Guina talked with a few potential buyers and knew he needed some guidance. Within his business network was a friend who recently sold a site. This person connected him with an investment banker who had digital sales experience. Another banker joined the mix and approached Guina for one of their clients, an advertising firm who wanted to obtain the business and bundle it with related financial sites. Once Guina entertained the idea of keeping their attention, the potential buyer had a lot of questions—questions that not just anyone should have the answers to.
“I think one of the worst things that you can do as an entrepreneur is give away too much information without getting information in return,” says Guina. “Why give somebody your cookbook without knowing who you’re giving it to and why they’re looking for it?”
He decided to meet with a lawyer to start the process of getting a non-disclosure agreement put in place. The buyer and him talked more, and Guina learned they were looking at the site and also looking to keep him on as an employee. He received an offer sheet, so the buyer could move forward by conducting due diligence. Once numbers became involved, he reached out to an investment banker for assistance, who continued to help him with later sales.
“I never went to business school. I’ve never been in a situation where somebody was offering me a large lump sum payment for an asset that’s producing a lot of income, so there’s a lot of math that you have to look at to determine what makes sense to you as a seller and what makes sense for a buyer,” says Guina.
When an offer was established, he felt like it was in their favor. They wanted an asset sale and offered an amount that Guina would have made building the site by himself with the luxury of being his own boss. The offer also outlined how they would pay him a salary and an earn out over the next two years based on the site’s performance. Negotiations for this deal continued. He did receive a fairer offer, but Guina thinks he oversold himself, because they decided they wanted him to relocate and truly join their team. This was not an option for him.
“At the end of the day, after all this work, they never came down with a firm offer because we never could agree to the principles ofthe deal, which is basically me,” says Guina.
He built a site that could live on past his presence, but they strictly decided they wanted to acquire him as well. It took a while to learn those details, so Guina wished he would have known their intentions, and they knew his, from the very beginning.
It isn’t hard to gain regrets when tackling business sale negotiations for the first time. Guina says he doesn’t have any, but wants to share his experience with others so they are prepared and knowledgeable of the sales process before they get wrapped up with potential buyers, whether they are solicited or spontaneous. Working with Plan for the Sale, he has guided business owners to a learning plan with modules built to help sellers know how marketing and networking works, know who can be on their team and learn how to fulfill each sales step with the right mindset and strategies.
Guina is still owns Cash Money life, The Military Wallet and other online businesses. This sales experience helped him learn more about civilian life. Sharing that knowledge matches his character and service driven calling.
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