You can’t say your company is not for sale these days without incredulous stares and doubtful gasps. The big flip has become the holy grail. Worshipped to the point where non-believers are chastised, straight-faced, for refusing to give up their life’s work.
See, the new world of “sell it and do it again” belongs to the serial entrepreneur. The too-cool-to-stick-around nouveau rich of the 21st century. Staying for the long term is now seen as old-fashioned and uncool, a handknit sweater from your grandfather’s closet.
Do you think Steve Jobs wants to be a serial entrepreneur? Bill Gates? Warren Buffet? Larry Ellison? All these guys put big stakes in their life’s work. Companies that they built from scratch, that they’ll champion until they can champion them no more. Sure, they may have hobby companies on the side, but for each of them, there’s one defining business, one spectacular legacy to leave behind when they’re gone.
These are my business heroes. People so dedicated to their company and its impact on society that you couldn’t pay them any amount of riches to leave. People willing to build for decades.
But, aside from the ideology behind it — the pride and satisfaction of building a company of real value to the world — there’s the financial side too. Why would you want to take a 10 times multiple of today’s earnings, if you believe you can still grow your business and you’re committed to sticking around to do it?
Why do you think you’d do a worse job than a prospective buyer of running your own business? Selling your company only makes sense if you think they can do a better job than you can. Or when you think they’re overvaluing the prospects of your company. That’s either the talk of the meek or a con man (“let’s get these suckers to overpay for this company of questionable value…”).
Flipping is a servant’s game. As the Chris Rock joke goes, Shaq is rich, the man who signs his check is wealthy. Be the man who signs the check, not the baller who takes it.