By Willow Older, Former Editor-in-Chief, Intuit QuickBooks Community
Julie Gordon White is an author and entrepreneur dedicated to helping small business owners reach new levels of success. Specifically, the acquisitions expert and founder of The WELL, a consulting and mentoring business for female entrepreneurs, aims to help business owners build companies that are simply irresistible to potential buyers.
Here, Julie shares her insights about what it takes to make a business sellable and how to “think big, grow big and sell big” (the topic of her popular QuickBooks Connect 2017 presentation in San Jose).
Tell us how your entrepreneurial journey began.
I started my first company in 2004 after spending five years in the hotel industry. Once I started having kids, it was a hard to travel the world with little ones in tow. I worked on a lot of things that didn’t pan out until I found a business that I wanted to buy. I was outbid, but I really loved doing the deal. I decided to work for a mergers and acquisitions firm. Eventually, I got back into entrepreneurship and started my own boutique acquisitions firm, BlueKey Business Mergers & Acquisitions. Then I wrote a book on selling your business called Exit! 12 Steps to Sell Your Business for the Price You Deserve.
What inspired you to share your business secrets in a book?
It’s funny that you ask because people in the industry would probably say, “Shhh, don’t tell!”
I wrote Exit! 12 Steps to Sell Your Business for the Price You Deserve because I wanted small business owners — especially women — to understand the journey to selling a company begins the day you start that business. Many entrepreneurs may not think about selling their business right away, or ever. I still want them to realize they’re building something that just might be worth a lot of money to someone else someday.
If you structure your business as something you might sell in the future, you can enjoy it that much more. After all, we all want the pot of gold at the end of the entrepreneurial rainbow!
You also founded The WELL, a resource for female entrepreneurs.
After I wrote my book, I thought “What do I want to be when I grow up … again?” I spent some time in silence really thinking about what I wanted. I realized my acquisitions company had taken off only after I joined a group of women who all ran these awesome million-dollar companies. I felt constantly supported and inspired, and I wanted to integrate my own experiences with a similarly loving, helpful group of women. That’s when I found the inspiration for The WELL. I knew women often get stuck at $156,000 in revenue, and I want to help them reach ten million dollars in revenue.
The WELL is a source of learning for female entrepreneurs looking to grow their business. We host workshops, online training and one-on-one coaching sessions to help mentor women who want to grow their business to that million-dollar mark — and then, eventually, sell.
Do you envision selling The WELL at some point in the future?
The WELL is absolutely built with the intention that it could be sold one day — hopefully to another woman entrepreneur who wants to take it even further. It won’t happen any time soon, though. I’m loving it too much right now.
For those who aren’t quite ready to sell their business, what do you recommend to small business owners who are looking to increase their cash flow?
Always ask for money before you need it. First of all, you’re always going to need it, so it's best to start asking early.
I also recommend heading to your local bank if you need a business loan. I believe local connections are key to building trust. If your bank knows you and sees your business in action, they’ll feel more comfortable about your ability to pay off that loan. And make sure you’re taking credit cards! I’ve also learned you need a bookkeeper using QuickBooks on your team. If you want your business to enjoy positive cash flow, you need a really great financial platform.
Julie, any tips for women business owners in particular?
When I work with women one-on-one, I teach them the importance of trusting your intuition and feeling the weight of your success. If you don’t, you’ll wind up hopping from thing to thing. You’ll never say no, and your time management will get out of whack.
There are so many strategies and experts out there trying to tell you how to become successful. The #1 thing is being comfortable doing what feels right to you.