The Value of Knowing Your Business Valuation—Laurie Barkman, CEO, SmallDotBig

If you were to decide you were ready to exit out of your business today, do you know what it is worth? Have you had a professional evaluation done? If you have not you should look to have one done. In fact, since my interview with Laurie, I decided to follow her advice and start that process just to know and have an understanding. 

Our guest today is Laurie Barkman. She is a business transition sherpa and is the founder of SmallDotBig where she advises owners on having more valuable, sellable businesses. She is also a partner at a boutique M&A firm and hosts the Succession Stories Podcast. Laurie’s experience as a CEO of a privately held company that was acquired inspired what she does today.   


Laurie Barkman is a business a business transition sherpa. She’s the Founder of SmallDotBig, where she advises owners on having more valuable, sellable businesses. Additionally, she is a Partner with Stony Hill Advisors, a boutique M&A firm specializing in the lower middle market. Laurie also hosts the  Succession Stories Podcast, where she sits down with industry experts to uncover best practices to grow their businesses, and develop transition strategies and leadership for the future. Her experience as a CEO of a privately held company that was acquired, inspired what she does today.


This episode is powered by Big Sky Franchise Team. If you are ready to talk about franchising your business you can schedule your free, no-obligation, franchise consultation online at: or by calling Big Sky Franchise Team at: 855-824-4759. 


Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:00):

Welcome to the Multiply Your Success podcast, where each week, we help growth-minded entrepreneurs and franchise leaders take the next step in their expansion journey. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:14):

And if you were to decide you were ready to exit out of your business today, do you know what it would be worth? Have you had a professional evaluation done at any point? And if not, you should. You should look to have one done. In fact, since my interview with Laurie Barkman who we’re going to interview later today, I decided to follow her advice to start that process for my own business just to get an understanding.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:39):

Our guest, Laurie Barkman, she is a business transition sherpa and is the founder of SmallDotBig, where she advises owners on having more valuable sellable businesses. She’s also a partner at a boutique M&A firm and hosts the Succession Stories Podcast. Laurie’s experience as a CEO of a privately-held company that was acquired inspired her to do what she does today. So, let’s go ahead and jump into my interview with Laurie Barkman.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (01:06):

Tom, thanks so much for having me on the show today. I’m Laurie Barkman. I like to call myself a business transition sherpa. I’m the founder CEO of a firm, SmallDotBig. And I’m also a partner with Stony Hill Advisors, an M&A advisory firm. And how that all stitches together, Tom, is I like to say I work from transition to transaction and working with small business owners to get ready for what is likely one of the biggest days of their life.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:33):

Yeah. Well, that’s extremely well said, transition to transaction. It’s very clear and I think what I’ve seen in clients… Personally, I’m many years away from thinking of that, hopefully many decades away at this stage of my career, but I know a lot of clients we work with, they’re saying, “I might be at that point of transitioning in five years or 10 years.” It’s on the horizon, it’s on the top of their mind.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (02:00):

So no, they’re thinking about it. And a lot of times, I see them get stuck in that kind of maybe they just don’t even know where to start. So, someone who’s maybe saying, “Well, Laurie, I’ve built a great business and I need to start thinking about it,” but what are they thinking about? Where do they start with this?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (02:20):

Yeah, let’s talk about time horizon. A lot of times, people think about it in terms of age. Oh, when I turn 65, I’m going to stop working or when I’m 72, whatever that magic number is for them. For other people, it’s less about age and more about their time and their life and what they’re looking for.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (02:38):

There’s some great stories out there of people selling their company when they’re in their young 40s because they want to sail around the world and they just inherently have the goals and the drive to do something different. Maybe they want to start another company. So it really depends on what phase of life you’re in and it isn’t just about age.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (02:55):

But many, many times people do think about age and why is that? It’s because how we’re wired and how we’ve grown up. And so many baby boomers out there, especially who now are in their 60s, thinking ahead a little bit to, wow, maybe I can retire. But what happens if we only think about it in terms of age, Tom, is so many people wait too long and then they’re out of time and this is the challenge. What if your business really isn’t transferable? What if your business isn’t ready for a transition?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (03:30):

And I’ll say this and it might be a little shocking, but a business that is not transferable, that cannot survive without its owner is a worthless business. And that’s a very sad situation because someone’s worked so hard, they worked their whole life. And for many good reasons, they haven’t gone to the baseball games with their kids and they haven’t taken vacation and they’ve given up so much.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (03:54):

And then when they think they’re ready to really transition, it’s the tough news that buyers perceive there to be too much risk in that business and then they discount it and they won’t inherently pay the number that somebody thinks their business is worth. That’s the challenge and that does not feel great.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (04:16):

Yeah, no, that’s a terrible situation. And I’ve seen over the years of working with small to mid-sized clients predominantly, I’ve seen that happen to owners over the years. And again, it hasn’t been many, but the few that I’ve seen, it’s been heartbreaking. It’s been terrible.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (04:36):

So, all right, so it’s not an age thing. So maybe it could be a life stage thing or maybe just a change in mindset on what you’re looking for in life. So, you’re at that point. So let’s say someone is there. They’re thinking about it, they want to get ahead. What now?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (04:57):

It starts with their goals. When I work with clients, that’s where I love like to start. Let’s have conversations about who they are, what makes them tick, what’s important to them, community, legacy, family. What are those things financially that they need? We look at it, we call it the three-legged stool. So, it’s personal goals and readiness, business goals and readiness and then financial goals and readiness.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (05:23):

And if someone has been saving for their retirement, they’ve been thinking about it, they have net worth beyond the business, then there’s a portfolio of things that go into answering the question of what’s the lifestyle you want to live when you’re not working in your business or when you’re not employed, right? You have a different set of needs for your income stream. And yeah, your life, age will factor into that and the things that you want to do and that’s all part of goal setting.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (05:55):

And let’s say just for sake of conversation, you need $10 million to live the life that you want to live as defined by your definition of wealth. And really wealth of time too is really important. So, let’s say it’s 10 million and maybe the biggest aspect of your net worth is your business. What is your business worth today? A lot of people don’t know.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (06:18):

So a lot of times, that’s where I like to start. I do valuations for companies to help them understand from a market-based perspective what are they worth today? Just like if you’re buying a home, it’s the neighborhood you’re in, it’s the size of the house, but it’s also what’s inside. It might look like everyone else’s house from the outside, it’s what inside that matters.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (06:36):

And so, that’s what’s really key here and I think, Tom, to your question, we can talk a lot about this today. What inherently makes a company more valuable than its peers? Same industry, same attributes or different attributes, they will all come into play and we can talk about the different drivers there. So, back to the goals. So, it’s really, again, the goals for the business, the goals for you. If we value your company at two million and you have set a goal for 10, well, we have a gap. And how much time do you have to help close that gap in your business?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (07:09):

And let’s use the measurement that is the kind of the way to get apples and apples. And when you talk about different companies, which is EBITDA, earnings, net income number that we can put a multiplier on and it’s a very common way to value businesses. So, having a sense of your EBITDA today, what may move the needle from growth or acquisition, whether it’s organic growth or growth through acquisition, how are we going to move the needle in the value of your business? And there’s the financial reasons that it could grow and there’s other attributes that will enable that value to grow.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (07:43):

Very interesting. And as someone’s coming in, you mentioned that this gap that might exist and it’s probably pretty common where maybe a founder is now at that point and ready to sell. And then, there’s that emotional tie in that there’s an emotional value to the owner or the founder, but that emotional value only exists in that founder.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (08:06):

And so, there’s this gap of maybe what the business is worth and where they maybe want it to be or need it to be or both and what you’re describing. So, how do you handle that situation when that comes up? How do you help that emotional transition for that owner to come to terms with that?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (08:25):

A big way that we start those conversations is to get them grounded where they are today. And again, creating this future vision, where do they want to be? So many people don’t have that future vision, which is why they haven’t moved on from their business. Their identity is so wrapped up, especially if their name is on the door. Perhaps, it’s a multi-generational company. They could be third generation, fourth generation.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (08:47):

I have a podcast called Succession Stories and I’ve had franchise owners on the show. I’ve also had founders and I’ve had multi-gen companies come on and it’s across the board. Identity is so wrapped up in however you define it. That being said, there are ways to personally start to emotionally separate and that, in a healthy way, can happen before you leave. And the more time you just as human beings, right? The more time you have to make those mental adjustments, the better.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (09:20):

So, the sooner we can start having these conversations about what are some drivers, what are some things that are going to help pull you forward as opposed to push factors, pushing you out. I do CEO workshops. And one of the first questions that I ask in my workshop to the audience is when I say the word transition, what comes to mind? So, let’s do this with you, Tom, in real time here. When I say the word transition, what comes to mind? Just don’t think too hard, just rattle it off. What words come to mind?

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (09:49):

Oh gosh. I think change. I think making adjustments, maybe doing something new that I haven’t done before. I really think of being in kind of this gray space that I may not know what’s coming ahead. So, I guess those are things that come to my mind right away.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (10:12):

Yeah and those are very common. What I do when I get my flip chart, I write all them down word for word. And then the next thing I do is I cluster them in terms of positive, neutrals and negatives. So, looking at the words that you shared, I would say characterize them largely as neutral. Change, adjustment, new, that’s more positive. Gray space, may not know, uncertainty, those tend to be a little more neutral/almost negative towards the end. So, you’re really kind of across the board.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (10:40):

A lot of times in these sessions, I do see more positives and negatives, which is good. I do also see a lot of neutrals. So, what does that tell me? Well, we do have some data from the Value Builder System. I’m a certified value builder, I use the platform which has been used with tens of thousands of entrepreneurs across the country and around the world to help them create more valuable businesses. And they have the ability to do surveys and get some great data and learnings from the CEOs and owners who are using the system.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (11:11):

One of the surveys that they did recently was on this point, we can measure of the people how they view these drivers, this poll factor, right? Something pulling you forward versus kind of feeling stuck versus feeling negative about things. It has to do with your personal motivations for change. And it could be health reasons, it could be divorce, death, those negative things that happen in your life. Or it could just be that general readiness and excitement about something new.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (11:38):

And what we’ve found is that there are differences. The more positive it is for the owner to be motivated to sell can have a correlation with more value. So, let’s just take a step back on that. Why would that be? Well, one reason maybe because if you’re thinking about it positively, you’re open-minded to it, you’re actively participating, planning, communicating, inherently, you’re going to be doing the things you need to do to be creating that value forward. So, I thought it was a really interesting statistic because it kind of backs up psychologically what I would expect to see.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (12:11):

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Well, I’m glad I’m neutral because I’m not in a sale kind of a mindset today. I really enjoy and love what I do and have no vision of stopping in the near term at least, certainly at some point. But anyway, that’s very interesting study and finding there.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (12:32):

So then when you find that out with your clients or at these workshops or seminars that you’re conducting, what then? Do you help reverse mindsets if someone’s negative? Are you trying to flip them to positive or how does that work?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (12:50):

There’s reasons why people would be afraid and change feels uncomfortable. It’s a world we don’t know about. We like to deal with what we know, we like certainty. And especially if we are keeping this business moving, if you’re the rainmaker in the company, you’re the head of sales, you’ve got people that are counting on you for paychecks, it’s hard to think about anything else, but running that business. So, it’s not necessarily a negative feeling about it, it just might be really, truly not ready to change.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (13:18):

Sometimes with those folks, you really can’t move them until they’re ready. It might take a spouse, it might take business partners to have that conversation. I was talking to one CEO. He is, I think, in a group of three partners and he’s definitely the most ready. The other partner who was in the room that I was speaking with, I would say he’s probably five to seven years away and he’s probably more thinking on it by age, oh, when I’m 62 or whatever his age was going to be. And he is not ready now, but he knows at some point, the business needs to be able to transition without the three partners.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (13:58):

And that’s what it’s taking, is it’s taking one of the partners to lead it forward. Otherwise, there’s inertia. Someone has to take the lead on it. If it’s a husband and wife, it’s usually one of the spouses. I had one client, a company. Both husband and wife were meeting with me at the same time. And when they first started working with me, I thought that the wife was going to be more status quo, wouldn’t want to sell, wouldn’t want to transition. I ended up being wrong about that. She ended up being the one that was really encouraging to be more open-minded. It was really interesting to talk to the two of them at the same time.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (14:40):

And it was over a period of months too, it wasn’t just a one conversation and we were done. I was working with them because you’re asking about what’s the process and this is where I started with them, Tom. I had them do a couple of assessments. One was the personal readiness assessment. They both took it, which was great because it wasn’t couples therapy, but a little bit. It kind of felt like, hey, let’s get both of them sharing.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (15:01):

And then the other assessment that they took was a business readiness assessment, which is a great way when I start out with clients to understand what’s their business all about and what are some of the value drivers that are playing to their strengths and what are some of the hidden pitfalls that they might not be realizing or recognizing?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (15:17):

So, one way to help people see what they might need to do differently, if they have a glimmer of interest in this topic, is to help them understand what is their business worth today? Because in that conversation, we’re talking about strengths and things they can further build upon and we’re also talking about those potential pitfalls, those potential weaknesses, those areas of risk, where a buyer in the private market, the buyers are coming up with what they believe the price to be. And any business can have multiple values depending on what that perceived value is.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (15:50):

So, how do we companies punch above their weight class and truly either differentiate or if they have time on their side to change business model, to update, improve their marketing approach, there’s so many things that we can do with innovations, et cetera, getting the team in place. There’s so many things, right? But the point is that a business owner has to be open-minded that it’s going to take time and resources to truly work on the business.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (16:23):

But here’s the good news. If you’re working on these things now and you’re not anticipating a change or transition in ownership for maybe another 10 years, these are still things that are going to be worth it to you because you’re inherently building the economic value of your company. These are things you should be working on anyway. That’s the big aha moment. Hopefully, somebody’s listening to this.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (16:45):

I’m not saying anything and advocating for anything that a business owner shouldn’t do anyway. The good news here is the investment make to help get your business ready for an eventual transition is inherently building business value, which is going to pay off for you in the future. So, why wouldn’t you be doing those things?

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (17:04):

Yeah, that’s a great point. Absolutely, I totally agree. And even on clients we end up working with that are franchising their business and growing, really a lot of what we do in helping them getting ready to franchise is helping document and process and do some of those things that, chances are, they probably have those processes in place. It’s just a matter of getting things a little more organized along the way.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (17:31):

One of the things you mentioned that I was curious about and just wanted to talk to, a lot of our clients, as I mentioned, are franchisors. There are companies that are franchising and eventually they’re going to have franchisees that have been in their system for maybe 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, and the franchisee is now ready.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (17:51):

And you had mentioned about working with franchisees through the same kind of transition planning. Maybe it’s passing to their children. I have a very good friend that recently purchased a franchise and that’s in their plan. They want their children to have an opportunity to run the business. So, how does that work? I’m just curious if there’s any difference or anything else you take a look at.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (18:15):

Well with franchises, certainly it starts with the franchise agreement and the terms of the agreement. And there could be review and approval process from the franchisor that they are specifying certain experience. And so, it’s good to know what those terms are and be familiar with that if you’re contemplating a future transition. Just because someone’s related to you doesn’t mean that they’re rightly qualified. So again, you’ll just want to double check that.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (18:40):

Sometimes it’s another, we say, related party or known party. A related party could be your family, but a related or known party, an insider could be an employee. I spoke with a catering franchise company recently and the owner intends to sell to a chef that works with him. And it’s very exciting because he knows the business, he’s been part of the success. That would be a great story, I think, if works out. We’ll see, right? That’s something that’s going to play out later this year.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (19:17):

There’s other franchise conversations I’ve had, a little bit similar. Some people want to sell on an open market. They’re interested in knowing what their business might generate. There was one conversation I had in Pittsburgh. I can’t reveal the type of company because it’s a pretty niche opportunity, but that was the point, is this is really niche. And that’s a good thing when it comes to franchises. The territory was also very desirable in terms of the clientele. We have some sports teams in Pittsburgh that you may have heard of and to have some of those sports teams as clients, there’s some cache to that.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (19:53):

Nonetheless, the challenge with that particular business was, like I said earlier, where a business that is so tied into the owner doesn’t have a lot of transferable value. And then this was one of those situations where it was pretty small to start with and there’s always a small company discount, if you will, because of this perceived risk. And this was a good example of that, where it was a couple of vans, it was the owner, it was maybe a couple of employees part-time and there wasn’t much to the business beyond the agreements. The agreements have inherent value, but we all know in a service business, it’s about the people.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (20:34):

And so if the owner decided to retire, who was going to… Excuse me, who was he going to transfer it to? And so, when I looked at it from a value standpoint and I said, here’s the challenges, it’s would that company eventually sell? Yes, but it’s going to require an owner to be very hands on, very operational, probably can’t afford to have someone arms length for a while until you get more vans and more systems in place. So, you can see that challenge on the other side of it. And that challenge isn’t unique to franchising. That’s going to be a common challenge in a lot of small businesses.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (21:12):

So Laurie, one of the questions that just popped to mind here is this idea of almost handpicking a person to transition to or maybe a group of a couple of people to transition to. We talked maybe someone handpicking their kids or you brought up the idea of identifying a key employee. Have you found more success with kind of pinpointing that person you’re going after in terms of that transition and sale? Is that helpful or not? Does it get in the way? What have you seen?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (21:44):

Well, what’s good about what you just asked is, inherently, you’re asking what’s the plan? My answer to you is it’s better to have a plan than no plan. And in the plan, it’s also better to have more than one option because sometimes our plans change. I have a client who anticipated that one of his employees would buy the business, but a year later after he and I first started talking, and my client has a five to seven-year time horizon. And a year into he and I working together, the employee announced that he was moving to Spain.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (22:25):

So, those plans kind of went out the window. If we don’t know that that person’s coming back with his wife, we’re not sure what’s going to happen there. And that’s a good example of don’t put all your eggs in one basket because you just never know. Now, there were things that we are starting to contemplate to put in place to have communications with this person and probably start to give equity over time.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (22:52):

So, that’s where these things go, Tom. For me, when I talked earlier about goal setting, when we talk about goal setting, we’re talking about creating options. So at a high level, what are different options for an exit plan? And how might we explore those things? How do we prioritize? What are pros and cons? What are considerations we need to have?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (23:14):

So yeah, it could have to do with your family, it could have to do with employees, it could have to do with third party. And I could talk for just an hour alone just on third party. I mean, there’s a lot to talk about there. Any one of those could be good reason to pursue, any one of those could have challenges to pursue. That’s been one of the things that’s been interesting on my show, having succession stories, right? It’s about succession. A lot of times in family businesses, you assume the next gen wants it, they don’t. Or they don’t want it, but then eventually they come in. You’ve got everything in between. So again, when time is on your side, when you can generate different options and really explore them, that’s why I advocate for starting sooner than you think you might want to.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (24:00):

Great, great advice. Well, Laurie, this is a great time for us to transition to the same questions we ask every guest before they go. And the first question we ask every guest is, have you had a miss or two in your career and something you’ve learned from it?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (24:17):

Misses. Of course, everybody has misses. I think one of the main things as a manager leader, I don’t know if in my bio, you’re going to read about it, but I’m a former CEO. Managed very big teams, but I also was in small teams. So, from startups to big companies and I’ve managed a lot of people along the way.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (24:37):

And I think one of the things is I was kind of like the mama bear protector and I put up a shield. I didn’t always let people see truly how I was feeling about things. I kind of wanted to be the good soldier and not that I wasn’t authentic, but I think to be vulnerable as a leader is really challenging for me. And I think when I let myself be vulnerable, it resonated with people and I probably could have let that happen a little bit more in my career.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (25:12):

Sure. Well, and how about on the flip side, a make or two?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (25:18):

A make or two. There’s so many things I’m proud of in my career. One of the biggest is becoming a CEO. The interview process was very challenging. I was 42, which is pretty young at the time, to be hired in to a position where it was a retirement. I was replacing someone in a succession plan. My peers were all executive men and had great stature and experience. And here I was really, really different and unique and added a dimension of the diversity of thinking and experience to the team. So I’m really, really proud about that, not just getting the position, but earning my keep as a CEO. So, really, really proud about that.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (26:02):

Great. Well, and how about this idea of a multiplier? As you mentioned, you’ve had just a great background and career in leading you to where you are today. Have you used a multiplier personally or professionally to help get you there?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (26:17):

Yeah, I would call a multiplier being really curious and a continuous learner. I’ve always sought to dig in and learn and not just do. And in my phase of my career now and being an M&A advisor and a value builder and exit plan advisor for companies, I’m using all the different skills that I’ve gathered in my career for 20 plus years, 25 plus years. And that’s not an easy thing for my own transition, right? To recognize for myself that it’s important for me to continue to grow and add value in different ways. And I really get a lot of pride out of that.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (26:58):

Building my personal brand has been part of this too as a multiplier. I do quite a bit of videos and things on LinkedIn. And it’s funny now, especially after two years of COVID when we haven’t seen people, but now when I’m seeing people the first time, one of the first things they say is, “Oh, I see your videos all the time.” And they feel connected to me.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (27:17):

And that’s been a continuous learning aspect too and being comfortable and vulnerable to come back to that word in an online environment has been a whole new world of business development. So, I love what you do, Tom. And I think for folks like us that are out there in this content creation world, it’s very satisfying, it’s fun, it’s creative. So, all those things go into continuous learning.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (27:41):

Yeah, yeah. Thank you for sharing that. And the final question we ask every guest is what does success mean to you?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (27:49):

The biggest thing for me is being a role model for my family, for my children. I have a 20-year old and a 17-year old. And my 17-year old says, “Oh, mom, who’d you talk to today? And are they an M&A too?” No, I don’t know if he really knows what M&A is, but just that he’s asking means a lot to me. My daughter pays attention to how I say things and when I speak in my business voice, what does that sound like?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (28:12):

Those are all things that your kids are watching you, not just your employees, but your family. And they’re rooting for me, but they’re also learning from me and I realize that and that’s very important to me. And I also seek to be a person that people want to work with, that they value the insights I bring, they value the collaboration and the value. Why work with Laurie Barkman? Yes, I like her, yes, she seems smart, but I know that inherently, if I work with her, I’m going to be better off and that makes me really proud.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (28:44):

Yeah, that’s phenomenal, especially I have three kids. They’re all in grade school right now. So, a little bit younger still, but is thinking of them getting older, I think inquiring about what you’re doing or learning from you and making comments that indicate they’re paying attention sure seems like a big success in my book as well.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (29:07):

Well, Laurie, as we bring this to a close here, is there anything you’re hoping to share that you haven’t had a chance to yet?

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (29:15):

I would love for people to follow up with me on LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn a lot. Please connect with me there. I have a easy-to-remember website you can go to to connect with me, schedule some time. It’s L-A-U-R-I-E is my first name. and I invite you to meet with me from a complimentary consultation for what I talked about today, either the personal readiness assessment or business readiness assessment. I’m happy to go through that with you if you would like.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (29:48):

And just really appreciate hearing from listeners. What did you learn today on this show that you might want to learn more about? And I know, Tom, it’s good feedback for you too, but as a guest, of course, I want to add value to your audience, so I’d love to hear from people.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (30:04):

Well, thank you. And I think that’s a tremendous offer. And even as you mentioned, it’s kind of that first step in inquiring and understanding what is value of your current business as it stands today, just a starting point is kind of drawing that line in the sand. So, this has been wonderful, Laurie. I’m really grateful for your time. Thank you so much for being here.

Laurie Barkman, SmallDotBig (30:25):

Oh, my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Tom.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (30:26):

Laurie, thanks again for a great interview. So, let’s go ahead and jump into today’s three key takeaways. Takeaway number one is when Laurie talked about selling your business is a three-legged stool, that is three parts. Part one is personal goals and readiness, part two, business goals and readiness and part three, financial goals and readiness.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (30:47):

Takeaway number two is when Laurie said it’s better to have a plan than no plan and it’s better to have more than one option when selling your business. And I thought that was just a great reminder, kind of that fail to plan, plan to fail kind of an idea. Takeaway number three is that when she said just because someone is related to you does not mean that they’re qualified to run your business. And I thought that was a great takeaway. I’ve met with many folks over the years, many business owners that ideally would like to have their kids some day take over the business. And really, they’re not maybe qualified or the ideal person to do it.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (31:29):

And now, it’s time for today’s win-win. So, today’s win-win, it’s really all about knowing and needing to know what your business is worth today. And that’s whether you sell the business or not, whether you’re interested in selling or not. Having an understanding of that will provide such valuable insight and information and help give you some direction and clarity on what you need to do for your business.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (31:59):

And so, that’s the episode today, folks. Please make sure you subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. And remember, if you or anyone you know might be ready to franchise their business or take their franchise company to the next level, please connect with us at Thanks for tuning in and we look forward to having you back next week.

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