Shauna Madsen, Microbusiness Training Centre, Edmonton, AB, CYBF Mentor

Deciding to sell the thriving little retail business I had built from the bottom up was very difficult to do. Only one week after I closed the deal with the buyer, a more suitable potential buyer literally walked in off the street offering to continue where I was leaving off.

We were a full service flower shop, custom picture framing and art gallery, a venue for local artisans to display and sell their work. Potters, painters, sculptors, glass artists and carvers filled our shelves with their beautiful creations and we had a loyal customer base.

Included in the sale of my business was six weeks of training for the new owner, who had no experience in flowers or framing. Our customers were had high-end tastes and we had worked hard to build relationships with them and understand their expectations.

To my dismay, the new owner wanted nothing to do with the training being offered and chose to do it her way. I offered to introduce her to the suppliers, the customers, share the daily sales book which my mother kept account of the weather, special events and interesting occurrences. The buyer wasn’t interested. That book alone would have given her the tools to plan an entire year of promotions, order product, save money… a lot of money.

I developed an obsessive possession for which I am sure there is a psychological term. I had nightmares every night and sleepless nights that did not subside until she closed her doors. She didn’t make nine months in the business. However, when she closed the store, I was finally free to sleep through an entire night, away from the shop and able to move forward.

It’s important to know your ideal customers but just as important to your know ideal buyers. If I could turn back time, I would not have sold to anyone who did not display a strong sense of customer worth to take over what I spent five years creating. I couldn’t let go until she let go.

If you were getting ready to sell your business, what would your ideal buyer look like?

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