You might have caught the buzz around my recent big leap – selling The SimplyBe. Agency, to the absolutely incredible Hawke Media. For those of you who might not be familiar, Hawke Media is the leader in the marketing agency industry, and how with their partnership, we are not only able to serve personal branding at scale, but power the market with a series of new offerings such as SEO, affiliate and influencer marketing, corporate strategy, email marketing, website development and more.  I am so exceptionally grateful that after seven years of building SimplyBe. From literally nothing, that it has found a home in Hawke to live on its legacy.

While it was the absolutely divinely right move for me on so many levels, the journey to get here wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. And so today, I wanted to take you behind the curtain and share with you what this experience was really like, and most of all, what I learned that truly surprised me – to hopefully empower and equip you to know your own value as you move forward in your career…whether you ever sell a business or not.  😉 

As women, we often default into proving, convincing and hustling for our worth, overextending ourselves so that we get the deal, close the client or open up the opportunity we’ve been dreaming of. But what if I told you that’s all an illusion? A lie we’ve been programmed to believe?

I can’t think of a bigger dream (at least for me) of selling my business. It was a seed of a yearning I had planted years ago after a fateful conversation with a mentor, who inspired me to declare what I really wanted to do with SimplyBe., and where I wanted to take it. 

To be an “Exited Founder” is a fantasy many entrepreneurs desire, and today I want to be frank and say – it’s not a fantasy. It was actually a reality check, that on one hand, actually positively surprised me, and on the other, affirmed the importance of the biggest asset one can ever have in business: your confidence.

Here we go:

  1. You are the prize. Remember that the buyer wants you more than you want them. This  might seem counter intuitive, but as the seller, you’re the commodity. A buyer (or a client, a booker, a decision maker, etc)  wouldn’t have approached you in the first place unless they wanted you. Unless they found you desirable and interesting. You hold more power than you think you know. So take your time, allow for their space in the conversation, which leaves room to be desired and don’t give off desperate energy. Hold the energy that “you are the prize,” and it will drastically shift how the deal gets done.
  2. Speak your truth from day one. Ask for exactly what you want and don’t hold anything back. At the beginning stage, this is your moment to be radically honest and tell the buyer your ideal terms. Don’t hold anything back, as this will determine the starting point in negotiations. For me, I had five criteria that Hawke had to meet, 1) I wanted to stay involved for as long as I wanted, and I wanted to set those terms, 2) I wanted the financial opportunity to be aligned to the value of what I felt what I had built was worth, 3) I wanted the space, capacity and Hawle’s support to pursue my third venture within this new structure and role within Hawke, 4) my entire team had to be absorbed while all my clients had to receive the same level of care they’d experienced with my boutique firm, and 5) for their support on a PR campaign to announce the acquisition with momentum so that it would drive impact. They came through on every one. (Check the LA Business Journal article).
  3. Dance the Dance of Negotiation. On that same note, remember this is a business negotiation. In any good negotiation, both parties give up a little of what they want, pivots the way they’re used to doing things, and shifts expectations, all  to ensure the deal gets done.  Hire yourself a good lawyer who has your back and trust their red lines. Don’t rush it. Take your time in negotiations. Make sure every I is dotted and T gets crossed. And remember – if it’s not writing – it’s not real.
  4. Cherish the Human Connection. Get to know the human beings behind the spreadsheets, website, awards, Google search and powerpoints. Spend time in person, on calls and on the phone with the actual people who will be running your business. Prioritize the human connection. I found that Hawke Media was impressive on paper, in the media and in the industry. But what impressed me the most was their leadership team. This ultimately led me to seal the deal. Because we don’t do business with logos and websites. We do business with people, no matter what industry you’re in. And you are going into “bed” with these people for life. Don’t you wanna like them at least, and love them at most? Don’t underestimate how powerful this is, especially if you want your future team and clients to be set-up for success… not to mention your mental health and sanity.
  5. Nurture the Communication to Your Team, Clients and Community: Be incredibly thoughtful and intentional with you how you communicate an exit with your team and your clients, before you tell the world. When this first manifested, the only person who knew was my husband. When things started looking more likely, and the term sheet was signed, I told my Head of Agency. Once she met a few more of Hawke’s team, we then told my leadership team. For months, only six people at SimplyBe. knew out of our 25+ person team, and our hundreds of clients. A week after the paper was signed, we told the team on a very special Monday Morning call, and equipped them with a 12-page FAQ sheet we spent hours building out. Managers blocked off time for 1:1s with their individual team members and we had our HR Director on call to support. Our team felt so cared for, as they managed their questions and big feelings, and this made all the difference. We took the same level of care telling our clients, making sure every one of them received a personal phone call from me or my executive team.  We then identified “friends of the business” and crafted a strategic email communication to our internal network, and linked to an external FAQ sheet on our website.  It was then and only then that we told the world. This strategy served us in immeasurable ways, namely 1) ensuring our team feels secure and comfortable in the transition which is everything, as your team is your business, 2) our clients feel confident that SimplyBe. is still their right partner, while 3) opening up the pipeline for a mass amount of new demand for business due to the intrigue. Use this as your playbook. 

So, here I am, at the end of this chapter but at the beginning of something even more beautiful. This journey has been a testament to the power of dreaming boldly, speaking your truth, and cherishing the human connections that make business not just successful but soulful.

To every incredible woman reading this, know that your dreams are valid, your voice matters, and your worth is non-negotiable. Let’s continue to support, uplift, and inspire one another as we navigate this wild, wonderful world of business. Because, sister, the world needs your unapologetic, confident magic. And when YOU start believing that too… you never know what doors may open.