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Episode 134: Should We Tell the Employees?
Should We Tell the Employees?

This week, Shawn Busse, Jay Goltz, and Laura Zander talk about the buying and selling of businesses. Laura thinks her recent purchase of a small distribution business could change the trajectory of her whole company, helping her finesse the challenge of selling wholesale products to her retail competitors. Jay, meanwhile, has been trying to help an aging business owner sell the kind of business that too often just fades away. Underlying both discussions is an intriguing question: While it’s common practice for owners trying to sell their business to keep the potential sale a secret, fearing employees might otherwise flee, is that really the best approach? Or is it actually a betrayal? Plus: We answer a listener's question about finding the right balance between being a kind boss and being a pushover. And we play a quick game of Who Said It: Elon Musk or Mr. Burns?

Are You a Good Negotiator?

This week, Paul Downs and Sarah Segal talk about their experiences negotiating, what they’ve learned and where they’ve struggled. One key factor, of course, is defining what constitutes a successful negotiation. As Paul points out, one definition is squeezing every last penny out of the other side. That is not Paul’s definition, especially when negotiating salary with a new employee. Sarah, meanwhile, discusses the tactics she uses to try to guide potential clients to the price and options she hopes they will accept. Plus: Sarah explains how she picked her new office space, and Paul explains why his experience with a Vistage peer group has been life-changing.

For Richer, For Poorer

This week, Liz Picarazzi, Hans Schrei, and Laura Zander talk about something they have in common: They all own and run their business with a partner who also happens to be a spouse. Which suggests some interesting questions: Is someone in charge? How do they divvy up responsibilities? What do they talk about? What do they fight about? Do they fight in front of the employees? How do they make decisions? Who does the dishes? Do they ever wish they were not in business with their spouse? Do they know what would happen to the business if they were to divorce?

There’s Big Money All Over the Place

This week, Shawn Busse tells Jay Goltz and Sarah Segal that he sees all kinds of opportunities for small businesses, including his own, in the coming wave of climate-related government spending and tax credits. Count Jay among the convinced. He’s got four buildings, five vans, a truck, some Sprinters, and a parking lot where he could put a charging station. If there’s government money available for upgrades, he asks, “Why wouldn’t I do that?” Plus, Jay explains how he’s rethinking his search for an HR person. And Sarah tells us she’s ready to meet in the metaverse.

Should You Be in a Business Group?

This week, Sarah Segal, Jay Goltz, and special guest Leo Bottary have a hype-free conversation about why peer-advisory groups like Vistage, YPO, and EO can be life-changing for business owners and why they’re not for everyone. Sarah has been wondering if they’re for her. Jay, who’s been in six different peer groups, says it can be worth the price of admission just to see how other owners run their businesses—but there are reasons he keeps leaving the groups he joins. And Leo is a former Vistage employee who has written multiple books on peer groups and has built a related consulting practice. Surprisingly few business owners belong to a peer group. Are they missing out? All three of my guests suggest questions to consider before deciding for yourself.

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Successful Raise, Fast Growth, Mental Health Issues

This week, Hans Schrei tells Shawn Busse why this has been a difficult year at Wunderkeks—despite many outward signs of success. It has to do with buying into the need to raise money and shoot the moon. It has to do with accepting the accolades that come with entrepreneurial achievement and then questioning your own self-worth when those accolades stop coming. It’s what Hans calls, “the miracle worker complex.” Hans and Shawn also discuss what it means to rely upon a sales platform like Amazon. Do you own the customer or does Amazon? And Shawn explains the biggest takeaway from his most recent Vistage meeting.

Rule No. 1: We Will Not Have Civil Wars

This week, Shawn Busse, Paul Downs, and Liz Picarazzi talk about why it’s so easy for tension to break out inside a business. Liz sees tension brewing between her people in the office and her people in the field. Shawn often sees friction at businesses between sales and those who have to deliver what sales sells. Paul says there’s always the potential for tension when a project gets handed from one set of workers to another, and he’s created a very deliberate process to address it. We have, he says, “really tamped down the civil wars and started solving the problems, as opposed to letting them fester.” Plus: Are Shawn and Liz going to hit their numbers this year? And have the owners seen their health insurance rates for next year?

Dana Opens in Dallas

This week, Dana White tells Paul Downs and Jay Goltz how her move to Dallas is going, including hiring a manager, firing a publicist, tweaking her business model, and for the first time, confronting competition. Dana also explains the surprising way she managed to get the financing to open her first salon on a military base, Ft. Bragg, which she now thinks could be up and running by the end of the year. Plus: Paul has to make adjustments to handle a sudden influx of business. And Jay is still looking for a head of HR. Should he post the ad on ZipRecruiter or Indeed? Should he offer a salary range in the ad? And is it reasonable for him to expect a follow-up email after an interview?

Bonus Episode: Seth Goldman Brews Another Ice Tea

This week, in a special bonus episode recorded right before Labor Day, Seth Goldman talks about getting the disappointing news that Honest Tea, the brand he built and sold to Coca Cola, was being discontinued—and how it took him about two weeks to decide to create another tea business to fill the shelf space that Coke was vacating. Along the way, Goldman talks about why it made sense to sell a mission-driven business to a soda company, what he wishes he had done differently in the sale, what it was like being a Coke employee, what he’s been doing since leaving, how the beverage industry has evolved, and whether he’ll end up selling this business to Coke, too.

Are You Hitting Your Numbers?

This week, Karen Clark Cole, Jay Goltz, and Sarah Segal discuss whether their businesses are meeting expectations and how that’s affecting their plans for next year. They also talk about how to handle an employee who doesn’t deliver, whether now is a good time to hire, and—in answer to a listener question—how to make the transition from using contractors to hiring employees. And Karen explains why employee utilization—that is, what percentage of her people are actually billing clients—is the most important metric she tracks and one she tracks on an hourly basis. Plus: Notebooks or Notion? All three owners tell us how they try to stay organized.

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