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I recently read a sportswriter comment about why sportswriters in general wax eloquently about horse racing, especially this year when we have a Triple Crown winner. His answer included:

It’s because the horse can’t talk. Sportswriters don’t have to interview him. If the horse could talk and he was interviewed, he’d probably say he just wants to contribute, or go into some boring explanation of hoof technique.

Sports fans get frustrated by athletes and coaches giving the stock, cliché answers. It’s always for the team, I’m just one player, we gave 111%, or some other garbage. I’m guessing reporters really hope for an honest answer to slip into the interview.

But it’s not just athletes. It’s everybody in every field, and in their personal lives. Getting the real answer is tough.

  • Start with dating. How much truth is there on the first date or two?
  • What about job interviews?
  • Or what about asking a business owner why they’re selling?

It’s the latter that’s the all time leader in creating skepticism in a business buyer. Why sell a profitable business if you’re not dying or 83.7 years old? To pursue other interests is not a good answer, to most buyers. Neither is my spouse wants to travel, even if true.

I’ve learned from experience that the buyer skepticism is usually over-the-top. Owners do sell because they burned out, have other ideas, or simply need a change. People in management and executive positions change jobs every 3-5 years, why is it not okay if a business owner wants to do something different after 10-15-20 years?

My recommendation to sellers is to sit with a buyer and go into detail on your goals, aspirations, and future plans. It’s a lot better than a stock answer, which raises skepticism.

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