Shall We Sell our Business – using Option Solving?”

Less than three weeks ago, I was sitting with two family members who were contemplating whether to sell their business to an unsolicited buyer of considerable means. Although they had been invited to sell their business on several occasions before, mainly to competitors, the price either wasn’t particularly enticing or they feared for what would become of their hardworking , if their company was indeed purchased by someone within their industry.

This time around those particular barriers did not exist to anywhere near the same extent. It was a surprise discussion between the three of us, although quickly evolved into a natural option solving exercise. At that particular moment, they were only considering maybe two or three decision options.

Fortunately the two owners were already familiar with the technique, so it required minimum discussion to move them toward coming up with a comprehensive question. After some deliberation and drawing up a listing of considerations, it turned out to be: “What is our best option relative to a recent purchase offer: considering we have a tempting number, are too young to retire, it should be beneficial to our people, the number is not sufficient to make investment plays, it presents an opportunity to do something different, and due-diligence is not yet done?” These were about 50% of the key considerations listed. Both positive and less positive considerations were incorporated so as to take a balanced approach.

With this figured out, we threesome then turned to creating the least likely Yin and Yang “bookends,” which not only formed an outer framework but were far-fetched enough to stimulate our creative intuitions into producing more plausible options. “Bookends” produced by our threesome were: “We become part of the acquired executive team,” at one end, with, “Continue with building the company and hand over to the next generation” at the other. In our Latest Example you can see why the family members thought these were least likely.

As a threesome, we were now in the position to derive-develop at least five plausible options and, as you can see, we ended up with eight. This really stretched the possibilities that the two family members would probably have never considered, if they hadn’t called on option solving. One of those options was: “Postpone decision with purchaser for 2 yrs to strengthen hand – give offer of 1st refusal at that time”… which was Option G, again, in our Latest Example. Which one would you have chosen in the circumstances?

I left them to sleep on their options. I encouraged them to look at the Latest Example pictogram before they went to sleep and then revisit it as soon as they woke up. Whichever option they were drawn to, should be up for serious consideration. If they came up with two options, then they were to discuss-debate these for some time and then sleep on those two choices again. Once more, when they awoke, they would choose between the two. From there they would probably reach a consensus.

At this point, it was key for them not to change their minds or second-guess themselves. If they were to do that, they would not only be over-riding the precious intuitive decision making gift that they have, but they will also then be back in a full, never ending quandary. Once your intuitive mind is made up, it’s important to stick with it, even if it’s far from a perfect solution. It will be one that you will learn to live with and, over time, you will feel that you made the optimum decision.

Once they reached that consensus choice, they should consider whether to “peel the onion” for further sub-options to their choice, or set about producing action steps while the exercise was very much in the forefront of their thinking. Let’s assume they chose the former -Peel the Onion -, we can then pursue what that will look like in two weeks.

If you have an issue example of your own, please share it with this blogger, through the COMMENTS area.
Thanks Option Solving. (NOTE: Next posting in 2 weeks: “Peel the Onion – Shall we sell our business?” We’re always interested in your COMMENTS or go to peter@ileadershipsolutions.com to connect with the blogger.)

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