Aaron Walker thought the money from selling his business would make him happy, but life after selling was a lot harder than he thought.
At the age of 27, Aaron Walker sold his business to a Fortune 500 company. He thought the money would make him happy, but life after selling was a lot harder than he thought. In this episode of Built to Sell Radio, Aaron Walker shares his story of rags to riches to depression and how he climbed back out. He also provides three tools you can use to help visualize your life after selling so you can avoid the trap that many cashed out entrepreneurs fall into.
About Aaron Walker
Businessman and Life Coach, Aaron T. Walker, has inspired many through his leadership, mentorship, and consistent pursuit of excellence. He enjoys helping others and believes experience is a great teacher. 35 years of entrepreneurship and marriage have given Aaron a wealth of experience. Aaron continues to reach new heights and broaden his perspective of the terrain by examining his experiences and growing from them.
It only took a few years as a partner with David Patton Construction LLC for Aaron to help take the business from doing one to two projects per year to a multi-million dollar company, voted number one builder for three consecutive years by Nashville’s House & Home & Garden Magazine’s People’s Choice Awards. He sold his retail business to Cash America USA, a Fortune 500 company. In addition to being the owner of eight lucrative businesses, Aaron participates in civic endeavors.
Aaron values his time spent with family and friends. Sharing the past 35 years with his lovely wife Robin has been nothing short of spectacular. His two fantastic daughters and champion sons-in-law have given Aaron & Robin four beautiful grandchildren. When time allows, Aaron enjoys hunting, fishing, golf, and is an avid reader.
Starting and Selling a Business
- Aaron started working for a pawnshop at 13 years old in Nashville. He opened his first store when he was 18, reinvested into a second store at 21, bought a third store at 25, a fourth store at 26, and sold to Cash America at 27.
- The stores were upscale in 5,000 and 10,000-square-foot buildings with 7 to 15 employees per store who wrote more than 100 loans a day.
- In 1979, the partners borrowed $150K, and Aaron was responsible for one third.
- There were two exits in this business; the first was selling to the partners and the other was selling to Cash America, which is now a billion dollar company.
- When dealing with the partnership buyout, Aaron looked at precedents and multiple times earnings for the industry.
Cash America Deal & Negotiations
- Cash America approached Aaron three times. The first two times a number wasn’t mentioned, and on the third time the deal was done.
- The deal left Aaron selling the business but still owning the building and leasing it to the new owners.
- The final sale price from Cash America was about 50% higher than what Aaron sold to his partners.
- Cash America had a system in place as they had bought businesses multiple times.
- There was a contract ready to go, and it was pretty much a matter of filling in the blanks.
- The negotiations over the non-compete clause lasted around three weeks. Initially, it was 50 miles and 25 years, but the deal ended up being 10 years and 3.5 miles.
- Aaron set up a new store two years later and worked part-time for ten years.
- Cash America offered Aaron money to open stores and then they would buy them back after five years.
- A team of eight people came in and took a full inventory of the stores. At the time, there were locks on the store and both parties had to be present to open them.
- The valuation was on a multiple of loan dollars that were out for sale and dollar-for-dollar on inventory.
- Looking back, Aaron isn’t sure selling was the right decision, even though it was a catalyst and gave him opportunities to do different things.
- If you don’t have meaning, values, and a reason to get up every day, you will get depressed and bored, regardless of how much money you have.
- The problem Aaron had was that no one told him he needed to have another purpose in place to replace the business once it was sold.
- Selling the business was good from a financial perspective, but that is not all there is in life.
- Aaron learned through the process that he had been successful but not necessarily significant.
- Success is having a sense of financial freedom and stability. Having engagement and meaningful relationships is significance.
- Happiness is a choice and not a trait.
- Learn how to be content and not complacent.
- Significance is about meeting the needs of others when they can’t repay you.
- If you help enough people to be successful, they want to help you.
- Relationships are about what you bring not what you get.
- Most people live a life of being reactive rather than proactive.
Doing Things Differently
- We do things we may not have done otherwise as time goes by.
- Aaron says he would do things differently if he had the chance to sell again. He would bring on a mentee, put energy into training him, hold onto the business, and make many times more than what it sold for.
Links to Resources Mentioned
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