The Phantom of the Offer

business saleCEO Notes Journal Entry December 13

It’s finally going to happen!!! I spoke to the broker today, and he confirmed the buyer is very interested and that we’re in the ballpark of our asking price and the terms of the deal are all good. Boy, I never thought that this day would come; can’t wait to do the happy dance and tell everyone that we made it across the finish line!

I’m so ready to be done with this place. Twenty years of growing it, managing all the people, problems, money, and strategies—I need to get out. I’ll negotiate for a very short stint at the new place. Time to trade in the wife and find some new clubs! That reminds me, I had better start that process now, so she doesn’t get her grubby little hands on my pot of gold.

List of to-dos:

  • Meet with financial planner to discuss what to do with my $20M
  • Set to go see property in NM
  • Put deposit on sailboat—make final decision on extras
  • Start divorce proceedings

CEO Notes Journal Entry December 26

I went ahead and shared the news with the executive team— there were mixed reactions. Several were concerned about their jobs—and their shares. I assured them that both would be taken care of. I could see the relief around the table, but I was surprised they weren’t happier about the deal. Geez, this is what we have been working for! The CFO knew ahead of time, but even he was piling on with the Debbie Downers. I guess we should have said this is what we were working toward eventually. Who knows?

I cautioned them to keep it confidential, as the broker had told me to do. He said it could cause the deal to go south if word got out.

Met with the financial planner and the divorce lawyer. I’ll be serving the papers on Tubby shortly. My financial guy said I should hold off on the property and the boat until the deal closes, just to be sure, but I’m a gambler so went ahead and did both. I’m ready to go—the finish line is so close I can see it!

CEO Notes Journal Entry January 15

I thought we would be further along by now, but, Jesus, this is really dragging out. The financial review is taking forever, and my CFO is completely consumed by it. All the books are on the up-and-up, so I don’t get what the big deal is.

As expected, Tubby didn’t take being served with divorce papers well. She went ahead and hired this hotshot lawyer and thinks I’m going to be paying his fees—think again, honey. That’s on you!!

Apparently, someone leaked news about the sale, so a few more employees know something about it and have given notice. Really chafes my hide after all I’ve done for these guys. Can’t they hang on and make the company look good till we cross the finish line? So far, though, the executive team is holding strong.

We also got notice from the landlord that they are jacking up the rent significantly next year, but we’ll be out of here with the sale, so I’ll just wait them out. Greedy bastards.

CEO Notes Journal Entry February 10

Christ, I can’t believe this thing hasn’t closed yet. The financial review is done, and apparently, they want to revise the offer based on what they found—doesn’t make sense to me, but I’ll see what they have to say.

My nuts are really in a vice with “she who shall not be named.” She booted me out of my own house, so I’m living in a goddamn hotel. I can’t believe the law lets you do that—I’ve paid all these years for that place!! She should have to move out. I have to be careful what I say because I guess her shitbag attorney will be getting depositions from my employees about where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing, and where I might have hidden some money. Jesus. What a nightmare.

My sales VP gave her notice last week. That’s a real blow to the gut. She’s the best sales lead we’ve ever had, and her team is amazing. I offered her more money, but she said she didn’t like the folks we’ll be acquired by and has had many offers over the years, so she wanted to move on. I expect she’ll probably have a few more follow her out the door, but it doesn’t matter. We’ll be part of a global team, so some of them would have gotten sacked anyway.

CEO Notes Journal Entry February 13

We got the new offer today, and it’s not just a trim, it’s a freakin’ buzz cut. I can’t believe the broker let this happen. I told him no way in hell would I agree to that. He also said that I have to tell them that the sales VP left, which apparently meant a lot to them—they wanted her as part of the deal. This is quickly becoming a nightmare. I sent the broker back with a modest reduction.

CEO Notes Journal Entry February 29

Thank God Leap Year only happens every four years, because this day has literally been the worst of my life. The buyers pulled out completely—said that the financials didn’t support the price and that without my sales VP the revenue growth projections look shaky. Plus, they were spooked by the fact that we’d have to move since our lease is up and there are no options other than the ridiculous price the landlord offered.

They were also saying that my divorce proceedings make me a high risk, and they would require that to be finished before any deal could be done because they don’t want her to be a part of it. And that’s just getting worse by the day. My kids aren’t speaking to me, the Hampton Inn is a fleabag, and my CFO just quit without giving any notice at all.

When I brought in an outside CFO, I found out that he’d been stealing from me for a while, which is why the buyers went away. They figured it out before I did.

I lost the deposits on the NM property and my sailboat. I asked Tubby to take me back, but she’s already dating, losing weight, and said she’s much better off without my snoring, old, sorry ass beside her!


The deal ain’t done till it’s done, and the money is in the bank. Anytime someone starts spending dollars they don’t have, no good will follow. The first rule of preparing for a sale is to act as if it’s not happening. You MUST run your business as if you will be there tomorrow, next month, and next year—not only to protect your investment in the business but also to keep from falling so in love with the deal that you end up hating your business when it’s over.

Deals fall apart every day—more often than they come together. They require confidentiality, patience, and above all else, a steely resolve to get through it knowing that if it doesn’t work out, you have a terrific business to fall back on.

Don’t spend money you don’t have, don’t tell people who don’t absolutely need to know, carry on business as if nothing has changed, and don’t do anything stupid to screw it up—like start a divorce proceeding. Investors and buyers want stability, and so do employees, so you have to walk the tightrope between the two. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings, as they say.

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