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What's your business worth to you?

© December 2005 Tony Lawrence

Sometimes people who don't know much about self employment view it in one of two ways: it's either something to do in between "real" jobs, or the whole point is to build it fast, sell it for a lot of money and repeat if "a lot" wasn't quite enough to buy that private island.

For most of us though, a "real" job is only something we'd consider as a last resort so it's more likely to be the other way around: "real" jobs are what we did in between being self employed, and then only if we had no other choice. As to selling out, that's not something we think too much about.

A few years back, I had an email from someone who inquired about my main website, aplawrence.com. Would I be interested in selling?

I responded that I would if the price were right, which is absolutely true. I honestly forget what offer he came back with, but I think it was about $50,000.00. I told him I'd need about 80 times that figure, which he found highly amusing. After all, the site was bringing in less than $15,000 a year in advertising revenue, so he felt his offer was quite generous. And it was, if I were only interested in the "build it fast, sell it for a lot of money and repeat" philosophy.

But in fact, that site is the main magnet for my consulting business also. That's the business that keeps me in the lifestyle I enjoy. If I gave up that site, I wouldn't kill my consulting business (he wasn't buying that), but it would definitely suffer, and I'd have to find some other way to advertise and attract new clients. While $50,000.00 is a healthy offer for a website, it couldn't pay my bills for very long. If I was going to sell, I wanted enough money to retire. Not that I necessarily would stop working, but I'd want enough to be able to quit if I wanted to.

If working for myself was something I did "between jobs", I might have snapped at that bid also, especially if I had a job offer in hand or knew I would be getting one soon. That money would be a nice payout on my work. But I like what I do, and have no interest in "real" jobs. So again the offer was far too low for me to consider.

I suspect that's true for a lot of the self-employed. Your business may not be worth a tremendous amount to someone else, but it's worth an awful lot to you because you like what you do and you like the self employed life style. You aren't going to give that away cheaply.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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