Hope Will Destroy Your Ability to Sell Your Small Business

Hope Will Destroy Your Ability to Sell Your Small Business

Taking aim at hope is a dangerous thing — especially at a time when we need it so much.  After all, optimism is like water to small business owners.  We bathe in it.  Without hope we are dead.


Being hopeful:

  • Allows you to overcome business setbacks.
  • Fuels the hustle.
  • Increases your immunity to discouragement.

Hope is good.  I am hopeful.

But experience has taught me this truth: hope is poison to the dream you have to sell your small business someday.  Deadly poison.  Isolated hope will kill your business exit dream, and it’s not a quick or painless death.  (Read to the end to see how to use hope as a successful ingredient in your exit)

How does hope poison your dream of selling your small business?

#1.  It Makes You Susceptible to the Very Worst the “Sell a Business” Industry has to Offer

For example, you might find yourself falling prey to . . .

Listing Whores

So, you haven’t prepared your small business for sale?  Been relying exclusively on hope?  No problem.    It’s easy to find unethical business brokers spewing the message that they can “sell any business”.    They will happily take your unsellable, small business and list it for sale.


Because listing your business for sale (even if they know it’s unsellable), will help their business.  Your listing, advertised in a vaguely optimistic way, will attract potential buyers, and these brokers know how to redirect those buyers to other listings that might be sellable.  These brokers pursue quantity instead of quality in their listings – and they will gladly take advantage of your hope to build up their listings.

Less than 20% of businesses listed for sale actually sell, but even those dead-on-arrival listings can help the broker.  When hope is your exit plan, the “I can sell any business” pitch can sound very appealing.

It is not.

And if you avoid the Listing Whores, you still have to watch out for the . . .

Price Parasites

4 brokers tell you the business is worth $150,000.

1 broker tells you he’ll have no problem selling the business for $300,000.

Since hope is your exit plan, who are you going to believe?  Some brokers will try to buy your listing.  If your exit dream isn’t informed by a basic understanding of market valuation, you’re more likely to buy the highest price pitch.

And what happens after you sign up with a Price Parasite?

They slowly suck out your chance to sell.  Most buyers quickly see how overpriced the listing is and run away.  If you are lucky enough to get a realistic offer, you probably reject it because it’s so far below the promised jackpot amount.  Blind hope is attracted to the highest promised price, whether the price is realistic or achievable.  If hope defines your approach, the Price Parasites will bite.

We could go on describing the external dangers you encounter in the “sell a business” space when hope defines your exit plan, but those outside dangers are nothing compared to the danger hope creates in you because . . .

#2.  Hope Will Make You Believe You Can Wait

How can waiting and inaction be a threat for a small business owner?  All they are is action.  Constant juggling of priorities, problems and opportunities.  More hours worked, more lost sleep, and more options considered than any other job title.

Small business owners are the hardest working people in the world.  Able to do more, with less, and overcome insurmountable obstacles.

But that tsunami of need and activity makes them incredibly good at ignoring things.  If you have 100 things that MUST be done, ignoring the 1,000 things that could be done gets easier.  And changing a business so that it can be sold is almost always seen as something that we can get done later.  It’s in the future.  You can put off dealing with the topic one more day.  And one more day.  And one more . . .

Especially when you are hopeful about your chance to exit.

A recent survey showed that 78% of business owners plan to sell their business to fund their retirement.  They believe . . .

I can sell my business when I am ready.

Is this what you believe?  Are you optimistic about your chance to sell your small business at some time in the future?   If you are, chances are good that you think getting your business ready for sale is something you can wait to do.  But while you wait, consider . . .

The odds say most small businesses are unsellable, and will never sell.

Changing a business so it can be sold takes intention, time (often years) and action.    Exit hope makes us think we can wait, and that waiting is the main reasons why 80% of small businesses never sell.

You hope.  You wait.  You fail.

So, what’s a hopeful, small business owner to do?

Act On Hope

The answer?  The defense?   The way forward?  Combine your hope for a successful exit with a modest, long-term, active engagement with the topic.  Act on hope.  When it comes to selling a small business, hope is effective, but only if it’s combined with action.

Educating your exit hope does not take a huge commitment.  A small investment of time can make a MASSIVE impact on your chance for a successful business sale.  You don’t need to become an expert on selling a business; in fact, you can ignore the topic of “how to sell” entirely.  Instead, focus on answering the question: Will I be able to sell my small business?

Make this topic part of your business life on a regular basis.

Embrace the reality that the biggest financial transaction you might ever experience requires some forethought and effort – not just hope.

Engage the topic.  Find the intention to create a business that you will be able to sell when you are ready.

Stop waiting.

Abandon hope (as a stand-alone strategy).

Instead, act on hope, and see your dream of a successful exit become reality.

If you’ve read this far, here’s your reward: our free online course:

Will I be able to sell my small business?



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