Can you buy this for $1?
What selling my agency for $1 taught me over 10 years ago.
In 2012, I was amid my life's largest “downward” spiral. Up until this point, everything I touched turned to gold.
The problem? I spread myself too thin and went “all in” on a business that simply wasn’t at the right place, at the right time.
You see, by 2008, I had a very successful online marketing business. Even the “crash of 2008” set fire to my business (in a good way).
When times are good, people buy marketing.
When times aren’t so good, people buy a lot of marketing.
I was in the middle of the marketing gold rush and did extremely well.
At the same time, I was working on a new startup—spending over $1 million to build it. However, I was unable to get any traction. I couldn’t convince investors to give a teenager millions of dollars.
So I pivoted.
While building this startup, I had a lot of overhead expenses, and when I brought those expenses to my “cash cow” business—the ship sunk.
By the Winter of 2012, I was over $1 million in debt. I had barely enough money to cover the rent of my office, and I had to let my entire team go—or so I thought.
At the time, I worked in partnership with another marketing agency, and I brought my dilemma to the agency owner.
I was out of money.
I owed contractors, suppliers, the bank, credit card companies, a few friends, and my mom a lot of cash.
This totaled to about $30,000 in payments each month.
So the agency owner gave me a deal—he’d buy my company for $1 and absorb the debt.
On the outside, that sounds like a really good deal. The downside? I was going to have to go and work with him.
The terms were simple.
He would pay for my debt.
I would be 49/51% partners in a new company.
Once my debt was paid off with profits from the 49%, I would get that percentage of future profits.
Enjoying this? Subscribe for even more :)
I’ll save you the rest of the story—but I lasted 11 months.
There are many reasons why the deal didn’t work. But the biggest issue? It was done from a place that set it up for failure.
It was almost impossible to pay off the debt with this model.
Because I was the “thing” being bought, and I didn’t want to be “bought.” I simply took what seemed the easiest path.
Fast forward to the Summer of 2013, I took life into my own hands and left the partnership.
Now, 10 years later, I have a lesson from learned experience I can share with you.
First, a path that seems easy may end up detracting you from your route, making life much harder.
There may come a time when it makes sense to just “let go” of something you’ve built…
Trust me, I see it every day.
The side hustle that didn’t work.
The business has potential but needs to gain traction.
The idea that no longer sets the heart on fire with passion.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is “let go” of the thing you built so you’re free to do the next thing.
But… and it’s a big but…
If you’re letting go or selling, don’t be the *thing* being bought.
Of course, it’s different if you’re willing to work with someone or wish to sell to work with someone afterward—because entrepreneurship is full of peaks and valleys, and sometimes what seems like a trip down easy street is an unfriendly detour.
The moral of the story… what you create may not work, and if it doesn’t, you can let it go—just make sure you’re not just taking the easy way out.
So step back, take a breath, and make sure that—if you want to walk away—you’re taking the best option for you in the short and long term.
If you sell it for $1– sell it for $1. Not $1 + your soul.