May 29, 2012

Coming Clean – Why I Sold My Business

sold businessI’m not sure I can call myself a food entrepreneur any longer….and that’s a really hard thing for me to say.  The correct title might be “former food entrepreneur” because as of mid-March I officially sold my food business.

First and foremost, I waited this long to say anything only because part of the sale included a specific number of training hours and so, in my mind at least, the business wasn’t truly 100% out of my hands until that training was done which is why you’re just hearing about this now.

Secondly, and the question I’m guessing most people are asking, is why did I sell.

The biggest reason behind my selling was that all of a sudden I found myself juggling a few too many balls in the air even for a person who prides herself on juggling.  This site has gained significant traction and while I love – absolutely love – writing and researching the articles here – they do take a significant amount of time to produce.  Add to that the time I spend working on writing projects like the new Handmade book and a 4th book idea I have in the hopper, time spent consulting for a variety of food companies, time spent teaching food business classes locally in Seattle and then also working on creating an online curriculum…well, you get the picture.  Things were more than a little hectic when all of that was combined with the regular cooking/baking/marketing/bookkeeping/selling/etc/etc/etc for my own business.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t add in that there was a huge family component to my decision to sell as well.  Trying to balance all of the above meant something had to give and in many cases it was my family. Then last Fall – during my business’ busiest season – my mother broke both her legs and I headed back to Wyoming to help.  During that trip my stress level was at an all-time high as I tried to balance helping my parents with my business which was running at full pace – without anyone at the helm – in Seattle.  I had a lot of time to think while I was home and it dawned on me that running full-tilt, like I’d been doing for the past two years, wasn’t really healthy for anyone.  Not to mention, and my apologies if this is far too personal, but my husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for the past few years and I had to wonder how much of our lack of success (which is an emotional rollercoaster all of its own!) was due to my frenetic schedule.

It was during that time at home that the idea I’d had in the back of my head about possibly selling my business really took hold and I thought I’d see if I could find a buyer.  But – and this was key for me – not just any buyer.  I wasn’t willing to give up the business that I’d built and nurtured for the past six years if it wasn’t to the right person.  In fact, the person was more important than the actual dollar amount I’d make from the sale.  So I took a chance and put out some feelers and chose to subscribe to the idea that if I was meant to sell the business then the right person would come along and if not…well, then I’d figure out that path too.

To make a very long story short, I obviously did find the right buyer – someone so perfect you’d swear I’d made her up – and she was willing to pay the right price.  She’s a former chef who ran a successful business of her own before (and since sold it) and was looking to jump into a business that someone else had started.  We clicked right away and as fortune would have it, she was in the middle of move from across the country to a house that is a mere four blocks from my own.  Truly, I could not be more lucky and I absolutely believe that she will take what I’ve built and run with it.

I’ve got some articles planned around the idea of buying and selling businesses as a reference to anyone who might be in that situation.  Also, because I know someone will ask, yes, I do think I’ll probably start another food business sometime in the not too distant future.  Being in a commercial kitchen is part of who I am – it’s a familiar part of my life and I do miss it.  But for now I’m just going to enjoy a little slower pace, spend more quality time with my family, and see what roads open up next for me.

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8 comments on “Coming Clean – Why I Sold My Business

  • phoebe on said:

    looking forward to meeting the new gal but will be sad that you are …well, happy for you that you are moving on to new adventures (but still a bit sad). I love what you do and in a crazy place where tiny business owners, like me, are so hungry to make things happen it was nice to always come back to “you” for inspiration and know what is on trend. best wishes in all things!

    • smallfoodbiz on said:

      Thanks Phoebe – really appreciate it. It’s a bit sad for me too but I do know I’ll be back in the kitchen before too long. I’m already pestering my better half with “what about this idea?” 🙂

  • Jim Lewis on said:

    You’ll keep “reaching for those cookies”. It’s in your genes. I recall Steve Jobs’ Stanford University speech so keep thinking “non-linearly”. All that you’re doing in the food space, are variations on a common theme, and your blog will continue to thrive as you have nearly 3000 followers (and growing) who look forward to gaining insights and learning from the experience of others. Your a part of a “food entrepreneur” family. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing.

  • mousetomamouth on said:

    Its really interesting to read your blog as I have just closed my food production business (manufacturing ice cream) unfortunately I couldn’t find a buyer and just ceased trading as it was taking a huge toll on my family life, but it does leave a large whole in your life! Good luck to you and all your future endeavours.

    • smallfoodbiz on said:

      Mouse – good luck to you too in this next phase of your life! I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason so hopefully your future endeavours will prove to be fruitful, challenging, and provide a better life balance. Best of luck!

  • Susan Devitt on said:

    Congratulations! It appears that you will always create, and do we really have room to keep everything we create? As they always say, ‘it’s the journey’.