Podcast: I’ve Helped Sell Over 100 Businesses; Here’s My Advice

By Noah Rosenfarb
Published: December 7, 2015 | Last updated: December 5, 2017
Key Takeaways

The sale process is the moment of truth when you convert all of your hard work to cold hard cash. Most entrepreneurs only get the chance to do it once. Here is an opportunity to learn from a professional who has been through the process more than 100 times.


In this session, you will learn about:

  • Top three things an owner can do to prepare for an exit;
  • How to get started with exit planning;
  • Important areas to consider in preparation for buyer due diligence;
  • Implementation of policies and procedures; and
  • Strategies that work and don’t work when selling a business.

About the Guest

Matt DeGeronimo is a native of Hawthorne, NJ – a few miles outside of New York City. After graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Matt earned and accepted a commission in the United States Navy.

After retiring from military service, Matt entered the world of mergers and acquisitions. In his first step, Matt acquired an existing business that was barely breathing in a struggling Hawaii and national economy. The business had five active clients and in less than six months, Matt increased that amount to over 100. Shortly thereafter, Matt founded, staffed and trained Smith Floyd Mergers & Acquisitions, which continues to grow and thrive. Smith Floyd Hawaii has assisted more than 100 business owners in the successful sale of their business during one of the worst economic periods in our lifetime.


In addition to his active role in the public speaking circuit, Matt hosts a weekly radio show, “The Smith Floyd Water Cooler,” which can be heard on Wednesday mornings at 11 a.m. on KGU-AM 760 Wall Street Network. The show services and advocates for the community on all matters related to local business operations. Archives can be heard on iTunes under “Matt DiGeronimo, Business is Always Personal.”

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Read the Full Transcript Here:

Noah Rosenfarb: Hi. This is Noah Rosenfarb here with another in our series of Divestopedia Exit Strategy podcast. Today’s guest is Matthew DiGeronimo. Matt is not only a nuclear submarine naval officer but having retired from the military he entered the world of M&A. He acquired an existing M&A firm that was struggling in Hawaii but he breathed new life back into it. He’s done over a hundred successful sales since acquiring Smith Floyd Hawaii. Matt has also been selected by Hawaii Business Magazine as one of the 20 people likely to possibly impact the Hawaii business community in the next 20 years. Matt’s a great guy, a long-time friend. He’s host of the weekly radio show “The Smith Floyd Water Cooler” which is heard on KGU AM-760 out in Hawaii at 11 AM. Matt, I’m really glad you can be here today. Thanks for joining us.


Matt DiGeronimo: Thank you. I’m honored to be a guest.

Noah Rosenfarb: Terrific. Matt, you’ve been in the M&A business now a few years. You did a hundred successful deals, which is a great track record. Based on that experience, what would you say are the three things any owner can start doing right now to prepare for their exit?

Matt DiGeronimo: I think the top three things would be do whatever you can to make yourself a smaller asset of the company. Most business owners have a problem with that but a business owner needs to be a smaller asset and not a larger asset of the company. Establish ways that the business can run in a consistent manner with or without any key employees, and the number one way to do that is through policies and procedures. If you have not implemented written policies and procedures, I would recommend you do that. Number three is cleaning your financials. If there’s any co-mingling between different corporations or different lines of revenues, just separate them and make them as clean as possible. Look at your financials with a fresh set of eyes, as if you’re looking at them for the first time, because that’s the very first thing that’s going to turn a potential buyer away, is that they can’t make heads or tails with your financial statements.

Noah Rosenfarb: Matt, most of the owners that call you, those hundred owners that you helped in the last few years, what’s their business like in terms of size, number of employees? What’s the market that you work in?

Matt DiGeronimo: In terms of – you’re using the term M&A which is somewhat subjective. I often say the difference between business brokerage, M&A and investment banking is simply just the size of your client. There is no exact threshold where you enter into each of those three industries. We tend to focus on smaller businesses so I think the largest business we sold was a $5 million business and we’ve also sold a $30,000 business. If I have to say the average of the hundred businesses that we sold, I think it will probably be about a $700,000 business, which on the average would have ten plus employees with revenues between $500,000 and $5 million.

Noah Rosenfarb: With that in mind, I think your first bit of advice, which is to be a small asset to your business, for owners that fit in to that sweet spot of, you know, a handful of employees, maybe a million dollars or two million dollars of revenue, typically they are the business or at least they see themselves that way. What recommendations would you have to them as a way to frame it so that they could start getting themselves out of being the most important person at the office?

Matt DiGeronimo: The mental model that I try to share with people is that too many business owners look at the fail of a business similarly through the way they actually look at the competition, which is a race where you’re running, running, running, you cross the finish line, you win, you look at the judges and you’re like, “How did I do? What’s my prize?” That would be the equivalent of financial success.

But really, the reality is much different than that. Instead of thinking of it as something that you’ve achieved, I think the mental model has to be closer to from how well did you prepare the business for a guest. Meaning like, you have people over to your home. You clean up your home and you do all the things in your house to prepare for guests. How well did you prepare your business for someone to come in, sit in your desk, do your job and have confidence that the business is going to continue to perform? If you’re honest with yourself, in most cases, the response would be, “I’m not even close to that.” If that’s true or if you can be honest enough with yourself to realize that it’s true, you have to take action to reverse that and I think that it’s not something that can be done overnight. We’re not trying to build the Great Wall of China overnight, but we’re just trying to lay a brick a day. So, you know, what can I do today – something small – that would take something that I do on a daily basis? You either turn it over to someone else or write it down so that it’s standardized regardless of who does it.

Noah Rosenfarb: I guess that rolls us into your second point about policies and procedures. Most owners in small businesses, if they haven’t yet read the E-Myth I’d certainly encourage them to do so and that’s kind of a bible for standardizing and getting policies and procedures down. What’s your advice to owners that have never thought about this before? How should they get started?

Matt DiGeronimo: First off, I want to reinforce your recommendation about reading the E-Myth as if anyone listening to this has not. It’s definitely a must-read.

I think the methods that I would send would not only go out to people who haven’t yet established policies and procedures but even to those who have, because – I got a couple of thoughts in my mind at the same time and my computer’s locked up. Hold on. Let’s first start with people who haven’t even considered it. You have to start and most people will have a million excuses as to why this is not the right answer for them. The reality is that everybody hates writing policies and procedures. I’ve never met anyone in my life – and I spent a career in the nuclear industry where everything is policies and procedures – and I’d never met anyone that enjoys it. It’s just like a horrible experience. Nobody likes to sit down and write a policy. Because we hate it so much, we come up with all types of excuses as to why that’s not important in my particular case.

I would like to disabuse you on that notion because I don’t care what your case is. It is important for you and you can’t sit down and write of policies and procedures to cover everything in your company. Don’t think of it as an event. Just think of it as a small daily habit that you would like to start and then trust me, or just trust it in the process that if you do that in a year or two, you’ll have successfully put together policies and procedures for your company, but you have to start. That means you start with a policy on ‘how do we answer the telephone here’ or ‘how we do we handle the coffee maker supplies’ and start there. If you find that kind of silly, I’ll ask you to go ahead and call McDonald’s in San Francisco and McDonald’s in New York and I guarantee, they answer the phone the same way.

If you think that’s a coincidence, then call five other McDonald’s, and I can guarantee you you’ll find that they all answer the phone the same way. That’s because successful businesses that find themselves successfully in a position to scale or to sell know that policies and procedures are the key to that.

Noab Rosenfarb: Yes, one of the recommendations I often have from owners, aside from keeping a journal by their desk, where they just write down the activities that they do and just scribble those notes so that they can review them after a week, in a month, and see what’s repetitive and what’s not, is to use a piece of software called Chrometa. What’s interesting about Chrometa is it downloads it onto your computer and tracks all the websites you visit, all the software programs you use, and you could get a real good sense, after just looking at the data that that software produces, how an owner spends their time at their PC. Sometimes you might find that they’re visiting websites that they might not otherwise want to go to during the day that they’ve got to block those websites to get them more focused, to make time to do the things that they need to do at their office to help them prepare for an exit.

How about the third recommendation you had, Matt, on cleaning up financials? I know one of the things that I see in my business is oftentimes my clients don’t have reviewed or audited financial statements. The businesses that I deal with tend to have 20 million or more on revenue. Oftentimes, especially if you have inventory, we recommend they get an audited statement a couple of years prior to sale so that when it comes time for an acquisition or divestiture, they’re able to produce those financials and nobody has to recreate them. How about in the owners that you’re dealing, their personal expenses, their AmEx bills, how do you recommend they handle that in those years before the sale?

Matt DiGeronimo: Well, I think it’s a challenge, but I think that the due diligence process is going to happen, right? We hope that we’re not going to be audited by the IRS. There’s things in our personal and business lives that we do because we think we might be able to get away with it, or we always hope that we’re never going to be the victim of an IRS audit.

Well, if you’re thinking of selling your business, you are going to be audited. You know it’s going to happen, so don’t cross the street to get your butt kicked. You know if you’re crossing a street selling your business, on the other side of that street is an audit waiting for you, so why would you waste your time, not only with the embarrassment, but the emotional damage associated with having a potential buyer just tear apart your financials with a million questions that you can’t answer? Why would you intentionally do that to yourself?

The way to prevent that is to do whatever it is you need to do, thinking or using the perspective of someone who’s never seen your business before. If you can get your statements audited, you can eliminate immediately any comingling of funds and ensure that any particular categories of expenses that you use that aren’t obvious have notes that explain exactly what they are at the ready banking statements that can back up those expenses.

Those are the things that, if you do it yourself, you pretty much take off the plate the possibility of the deal falling through just because your finances are a mess. There’s damage associated with entering into due diligence period that falls apart because as much as we try to protect the confidentiality of all our sales, once the due diligence process starts, that potential of someone in the company figuring out what’s going on or now just the word getting out, that potential buyer is now out amongst the world and potentially spilling the beans. That possibility exists, so we want to maximize the probability that the first qualified and interested buyer becomes the buyer. The simplest way to do that is to ensure that you beat the hell out of yourself over the review of your own financial statements so that when you’re presenting it, you’re just presenting what you know is a pristine product.

Noah Rosenfarb: One of the tools that we created, and owners on this call may want to download it on our website, is called 53 Ways to Increase the Value of Your Company. We talk a lot about not just these three things about becoming less valuable and having policies and procedures and cleaning up financials, but I guess 50 other ways that owners may want to consider preparing for their exit and adding more value to their company. I just want to make mention that for our listeners that would enjoy reading it. Matt, maybe —

Matt DiGeronimo: Noah, real quick —

Noah Rosenfarb: Yes?

Matt DiGeronimo: Can we circle back to policies and procedures real quick?

Noah Rosenfarb: Yes, sure.

Matt DiGeronimo: I have something that I think is worth spending a few minutes to talk about, and that’s the idea that — now let’s talk just briefly to the group of people that say, “Yes, I’ve got policies and procedures for everything,” okay? To that group of people, it is my observation that writing the policies and procedures is actually the easy part, which, if you’ve never been through that process, should sound somewhat startling to you. The policies and procedures, if you fit them on a table and then you stare at them, what you’ll know is it doesn’t do anything and no revenue is generated by virtue of having policies and procedures. They need to be used in order for them to be successful. Most, if not the vast majority of people hate using policies and procedures, and B, are not very good at it.

If you would like to test this out for yourself, just write a procedure for your company and at your next meeting say, “Hey, from now on, I need everyone to follow this procedure when you do X.” Then two weeks’ time, see how many times you’ve done X, and then compare what was done to what you wrote down. I’m willing to lay money on this right now that what you’ll find, you will be befuddled. “Wait a minute, this doesn’t check. I thought we talked about this procedure?” Either A, they’ll just completely just blow it up and not use it, or B, they thought they used it, but the skill of using a procedure is not something that people are born with.

I know this because I’ve spent a career working with individuals that were training from the age of 19 — these are nuclear-trained technicians — to use policies and procedures for everything that they did. I have battle scars and gray hairs from that group of people failing to either use procedures or use them properly, and this is a group of people that are the nation’s experts on policies and procedures. Thinking that just writing stuff down will magically create a consistent result in whatever it is that was addressed is an illusion.

Writing the policies and procedures is step A, but step B is dedicating the time and effort that it takes and even considering bringing in someone who specializes in policies and procedures into your company so that you create a culture that understands and respects the use of these procedures, because if you’re not careful, you end up with a bunch of robots. They’ll say, “Okay, fine. You want me to follow procedures? I’ll follow procedures.” No matter who wrote them, unless you got God to do it, there’s going to be all kinds of mistakes on there. You need your group to be sold on your vision on these policies and procedures because if you just, with an iron fist, demand that they follow them, then you end up with what we call malicious compliance, where they’ll say, “Well, okay. The procedure says to do this, so I’ll do that,” even though they know it’s wrong.

We could go a whole episode on just policies and procedures, so I just wanted to throw that out that just getting them written doesn’t actually do anything. It’s figuring out a way to get them implemented, which does not happen through one discussion at a staff meeting.

Noah Rosenfarb: Why don’t you share your naval expression around compliance with that, the one we were talking about before?

Matt DiGeronimo: That’s right. “You get what you inspect, not what you expect.”

Noah Rosenfarb: Yes.

Matt DiGeronimo: If you put out a procedure and say, “Hey, I expect everyone to follow this,” okay. Well, wait a month and then inspect what was done, and then take action on the deficiencies that you found, and then repeat the process. Eventually, you will get what you wanted because you inspected it. It’s similar to the saying that, “Hope is not a plan, and neither are expectations.”

Noah Rosenfarb: Matt, what I wanted to get into next with you is talking about the sale or transfer of a company with the people that are stakeholders in your business. Maybe you could start with how you’ve seen owners handle the discussion around a sale with their key executives, and then maybe we’ll talk a little bit more about the rank and file and customers and maybe suppliers, but if you could start with what have you seen work and not work when owners talk to their key executives or management team or their number two?

Matt DiGeronimo: I think I would say about a third of the people that we worked with make the mistake of thinking that the sale of the business will go better if they can get a group of their key employees to buy the business from them or even just an all-call to the employees that says, “Hey, we’re selling the business, and we would like to sell it to the employees,” or reaching out to a client or a customer or supplier or a vendor. I would say, without exception, “Stop. Just stop, stop, stop.” The instinct, although reasonable, is 100 percent incorrect. Stop.

There are seven billion people on the planet. There’s probably 600 million of them that are better potential buyers than any of the people that you’re going to talk to in your company, and not because the people in your company couldn’t do it or are bad people. It’s just that the potential negative consequences that can come from that are just too large to risk. If you’re going to share what you’re doing with someone in the company, even if it’s someone who you think you trust with the entire company, you’d be surprised. When it comes down to earning a living, people have to look after number one.

I wouldn’t be hearing this if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes multiple times, where the news is shared with a couple of key employees, and then the next thing you know, somehow most of the employees, then all of the employees, know. Although it’s an irrational response, the consequence of that is that you have a lot of people that start to look for new jobs. I said it’s irrational because in most cases the new owner is going to need those employees more than you do, but it still happens. Not only does it happen in a theoretical sense. I’ve seen this exact thing happen where these employees then go off to find another job, and guess where they end up working? They end up working in one of the competitors. Guess what happens now? The competitor’s employees find out, and then their competitor’s management finds out, and then this competitor starts to find out ways, to look for ways, that they can leverage this information against you, whether it’s discussing the transfer of preferred contracts that you may have with vendors or discussions with clients.

It’s like watching a horror movie where the lady gets up from the couch at 2 AM because she hears a noise in the backyard, and she’s going to go and investigate it. With everything you have, you want to tell her, “No, don’t, or at least turn on the flood lights or call 911 first,” but, you know what, she goes out there anyway. You know what’s going to happen. You just can’t stop it. That’s how I feel when I see a business owner say, “Well, I first want to have — I’m going to share this information with my employees or my management team.”

My recommendation is that, almost without exception, hold off on having that discussion until you’ve already made the decision and have entered into the process. I wouldn’t even bring it up until you have a serious buyer at the table, and even then, I would consider holding off until the end of the due diligence period.

Noah Rosenfarb: Matt, would you say that most of the owners you’re working with are going through that due diligence period and providing any information and data they need on their own or with outside advisers, you know, their accountant, their lawyer, someone like you?

Matt DiGeronimo: Well, I will say that we know that although data though to gain on this. You know that about 50 percent of businesses that go into some sort of deal end up falling through. I now know and can say with confidence that the reason that happens has nothing to do with the finances or the business model. It has to do with the way due diligence is structured. What I mean by that is most buyers, even the most sophisticated buyers, whether it’s someone who’s done this before or a private equity firm or a larger company who thinks they got it all figured out, when, in my opinion, that when the buyer says, “I would like the following 15 things,” and then you go collect those 15 things, and then give them to the seller, that deal will fall through. Here’s a buyer. That deal will fall through.

I could speculate as to why. I think oftentimes the buyer gets overwhelmed, whether they realize it or not. You’ve given them too much information, and now you end up with this flurry of questions that just feeds off itself, and next thing you know, you’re talking about the employees and the lease and the inventory. Eventually, somebody becomes emotional. The thing spirals out of control, and the deal falls apart. Not to mention you’ve given away too much proprietary information because now the person walks away and they know your whole business model.

What I recommend is that you find someone, and if you’re in Hawaii, I would recommend that someone be me or my company, who understands that the due diligence process needs to be controlled and deliberate and incremental, meaning whatever the initial contract states, the contingencies are — typically, there are six to ten contingencies — tackle them one at a time with no discussion of the other ones until that contingency is cleared. What I have observed is it just makes the process more manageable, more pleasurable, to be frank, and just more probable of resulting in a closed deal than just a flurry of exchange of information.

Noah Rosenfarb: Good advice. Let me maybe have you share a few stories. We’ve got some time that you could still continue the dialogue with our listeners. I think stories are often a way that people like to learn, and maybe you could talk about a deal that went south or a deal that went well. Just share some of your best stories out of these last 100 transactions that you participated in.

Matt DiGeronimo: Okay. Well, one story that I’ve alluded to already, but I’ll give you some specifics. They’re a very successful engineering company. They manufactured a handful of products in a very specific niche and had been doing that for 30-plus years, as well as they had some equipment, industrial equipment, that they rented out as well. They came to us to discuss the sale of their business, and we put forth our service that we could provide, and they ended up telling us that they were going to hold off on working with us because they wanted to give their employees an opportunity to buy the business first.

It’s an awkward situation for us to be in because this happens often or often enough for it to be a topic of discussion, where here I am trying to tell this person not to out into the backyard without turning on the floodlights and calling 911 first because Freddy Krueger’s out there waiting for them, but yet I’m like the worst person to be telling them that because they assume that I’m saying it because I want their business. I can remember — we’ll call him Bob — saying, “Bob, I’m telling you, it’s not fine. Do me a favor. Don’t hire me. Hire someone else, but don’t do this. Don’t put this out to your 20 employees that you want to sell the business but you want to give them the opportunity to do this first. Please don’t do this.” “You don’t understand, Matt. I’ve been working with this team forever. This is my family. You’re looking at it from a daughter’s and son’s perspective. I’m looking at it from what’s the right thing to do. This is my family, and I want them to have the business and blah-blah-blah.” Okay. What are you going to do? It’s his business.

Well, I don’t know, four months later, he calls back and wants to meet. He tells us what’s happened. He’s lost five key employees, a couple of which had very specific skills in welding that are tough to replace. They all went over to a major competitor of them, a much larger business. Somehow, that business found out they were for sale and now have made them an offer to buy their business, but the revenues were going down, so they weren’t exactly sure why. Even for the work that they had, they were having a tough time completing it because they hadn’t replaced these key employees yet.

The revenues were going down. They’ve lost these key employees, and now they’re being approached by a much larger company to buy their business, and then nothing comes out of it, so now, “I think we should sell.” “Okay, what information did you give to this large business?” “We gave them everything. We gave them everything they asked for.” “Okay, so what is it that you want me to do, because you’ve pretty much handicapped yourself and me to do anything at this point,” because a business with declining revenues becomes almost unsellable and especially one that is likely to continue to see declining revenues because they have a competitor who’s taking away business from them and they have the key employees that they’ve lost. “Well, we want you to negotiate a deal with this larger business.”

This story has two morals to it: one is about talking to employees, and the other one is talking about a larger company that has said that they wanted to acquire you. It’s unbelievable. It’s like 80 percent of the people that we’ve talked to say, “Yes, yes. Some of them actually said they wanted to buy my business two years ago,” or, “Yes, we’ve been approached by so-and-so to buy the business.”

I’m shifting gears here a little bit. I’m talking about when approached by either individual or a group or a competitor, a larger company, about buying your business, those are shark-infested waters.

This is what happens, and I’ll just continue the story, but this is not an uncommon thing. They say, “Well, they offered us 3 million dollars, and at that time I thought the business, even at its best, was probably a 2.2-million-dollar business.” I was like, “Bob, I’m really concerned here because I think that they’re making this offer just so they can see all your information. We haven’t really played the game of tennis here in terms of you haven’t really gotten anything from them other than this letter of intent, which is worth nothing, to buy your business. Now you’ve shared all your information with them.

This is a different movie, but also one with a common plot, where they’re going to end up telling you, “Your margins are a lot smaller than we had hoped. This is still not going to work for us. We apologize, but we can offer you — ” I like to say, “I’ve seen this many times.” “We can offer you 50,000 dollars and a job offer where we will pay you a commission on all the work that you can send our way that results in revenue.” They’d say, “Really, that’s the offer?” “Yes, yes, that’s the best we can do.” We’ve seen that multiple times.

Noah Rosenfarb: There we go. I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened there. Not a great result for those owners. I think, for the people listening on the call, those of you that have had those people approach you in the past, listen to some of our podcasts from private equity firms or serial business-acquisition-minded executives, and they’ll tell you through those interviews that we’ve had in the past, their best deals come from finding an owner that’s not shopping their business, that they’d keep reaching out to them and finally they’d bite on that hook and they’re able to negotiate great deals because they’re the only game in town.

Heed Matt’s advice. Don’t go into the backyard without the lights on and calling 911. Don’t tell everybody unless you’ve got a real clear and well-written game plan that’s been vetted by some advisors and professionals. If you’re thinking about entering into some negotiations with anyone, that’s going to be one on one. Tread carefully.

That’s great advice, Matt. How about a good story? Let’s try and end with a happy ending here. We’re going to wrap the call in a few, so maybe you’ve got a great story, a positive one, to share.

Matt DiGeronimo: Yes, I actually do. We had a business owner that came to us, really just a great, great guy, and he had a very successful manufacturing and retail and distribution of a product that was very well known and loved by both people here locally and tourists. When he came to us, I was like, “Wow, this is going to be great,” because it’s got to be a great business. We looked at his books, and his finances were as strong as we had hoped.

Then as we discussed how the business worked, we realized that he was the hamster in the wheel behind all of this. He picked out the design, and then his deals for supplies were friends of his in a handful of countries, everything from — this is a jewelry-accessories-type company — and everything about the company was him. At the center of it, from who his salespeople called — He had six different locations in Hawaii, but yet when his salespeople were going to reduce the price because they were negotiating with a client, his cellphone rang. We told this guy, “This is going to damage the value of your business.” He was like the perfect client. He just said, “I didn’t realize that. What can I do to change that? I’m willing to do whatever I need to do. If it means delaying the sale two or three years, I’m fine with that.”

We put a plan together that split out his retail, his distribution and his manufacturing into three separate companies all operating under his one major corporation but with a manager running each of the three. He had three different managers, and the policies and procedures and contracts with suppliers, not just a handshake amongst friends.

About three years later, we were able to sell the business because he did exactly what we talked about. Three years later, this guy was much tanner than the last time we saw him because he was on the golf course every day. He’s like, “I don’t even know if I want to sell the business now because it’s so self-sufficient.”

We tell all business owners, “Be careful. If you find yourself saying I can’t sell the business now because it’s doing too well, take a pause as to what you’re saying because the only alternative to that is to say, “Well, I’ll sell my business when it’s not doing well,” which doesn’t work.

Anyway, we sold his business to a buyer who was impressed from beginning to end. The due diligence period felt like just more of a formality. We ended up getting almost three times the amount that we originally valued the business two years prior.

Noah Rosenfarb: That’s great. In our exit-planning business, where we help owners prepare their companies for a sale or transfer, what we look at is the ROI on the type of work that we do. It just can’t be found anywhere else in the business because when you sell your business you get a multiple of your earnings in your projected cash flows. If we could tweak things where we create an extra 100,000 dollars of income or cash flow, we might get paid 600,000 for that. It just makes all of the effort in planning, as you’ve described, it can’t be beat through any of these other opportunities when you’re an ongoing business holder. Would you agree with that?

Matt DiGeronimo: I do, and I think, to just piggyback on that, is that there’s nothing that can beat that planning process. I think oftentimes business owners who are not convinced of that will mentally replace that planning process with a story or a presentation about what a new owner could do with the business, look at all this possibility. As we say, that provides not even a penny to the valuation of your business. There’s this perspective of business owners may buy the business because of all that opportunity, but they won’t pay for it. What they’ll pay for is your existing business, and if your existing business falls short of your expectations for valuation, exit planning is the way, and perhaps the only way, to overcome that.

Noah Rosenfarb: Yes. All right, Matt, so we’re going to wrap up. Any last words of advice to our listeners?

Matt DiGeronimo: I think that I will just reiterate that even if you’ve just bought your business or you’re in the last stage of your business, the ego of a business owner — and I’m a business owner myself but I can say this is true for me as well, so I’m in it with you — our egos can get in the way of the value of our business. We need to figure out a ways, from the very first day, to make ourselves a smaller asset of the company, not a bigger asset. Every time we say we’re doing it this way because I said so, and every time we make a decision, every time we verbally train someone or every time we deal with a customer directly and didn’t bring anyone else in on that, we’re making ourselves a bigger asset of the company. Just consider the fact that every time you do that, you’re making your business worth less.

I would to reiterate that. I would reiterate policies and procedures and developing a culture that actually uses them in a way it’s effective, and cleaning up your financials, although a pain in the neck and sometimes challenging, is an absolute must.

Noah Rosenfarb: Matt, I know our listeners can hear you via iTunes. Why don’t you tell them a little bit about how they could get to you, and then also for those of our listeners that might be in the Hawaii area that are thinking about what to do with their business, how they might want to contact you?

Matt DiGeronimo: Okay, thanks. Well, I think the easiest way to get in touch with me is through either the company website, which is From there, it’s pretty self-evident on how to contact us or me. For the podcast, that is also available through our website at That’s smithfloyd like half of Aerosmith and half of Pink Floyd – smithfloyd. The podcasts, if you don’t want to go through the website, it’s called “Business is Always Personal.” You could find that on iTunes. Again, that’s, “Business is Always Personal,” with Matt DiGeronimo. If anyone’s out there and wants to contact me directly, I would encourage you to send me an e-mail at my initials which are [email protected].

Noah Rosenfarb: Terrific.

Matt DiGeronimo: For those that are out there who prefer the telephone, our phone number is 808-727-0326.

Noah Rosenfarb: Terrific. Thanks so much to our listeners for joining us again. I’d greatly appreciate, if you listen to us through iTunes, if you could leave your feedback there or review us. It’s helpful to us. Always, you could e-mail me, [email protected] with any of your comments or questions. We look forward to having you with us again on another episode, so stay tuned.

Matt, thanks so much for being with us today.

Matt DiGeronimo: Thanks for having me, Noah.

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Written by Noah Rosenfarb

Noah Rosenfarb
Noah Rosenfarb, CPA/ABV/PFS has devoted his career to advising business owners on all things related to money. He is a Personal CFO and Holistic Wealth Coach at Freedom Business Advisors, which provides middle market business owners guidance on how to successfully transition out of the management and or ownership of their company. Mr. Rosenfarb is the author of EXIT: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.

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