One day, Debby Penton's non-exec told her: "You've got your head in the sand!"
"You're MD of this £2.5m agency – but you've got a majority shareholder who's no longer running the business. Everything is amicable now. But give it a few years and it will be different."
"You'll be pissed off that you're giving up the lion's share of the money – and by that time it will be too big for you to buy it out."
So Debby decided to act.
At that point, Debby owned 20% of Wildfire PR. Another 70% was owned by the founder who had stepped back from the business three years ago.
"We'd been umm-ing and ah-ing about what we'd do over the years. He was 67, so he wanted to find a way to get out and get his money.”
Debby began negotiations to buy him out, and she's agreed to tell the story of how it went at Agency Hackers.
“We bought him out and we've got a few years to pay it off.”
The deal went through and everybody remained friends.
But there are a few interesting lessons in this for anybody who might buy – or sell – a majority stake in their business.
• You will be encouraged to put your own money down – but you don’t have to. "His lawyers were very keen for me to put some skin in the game. But I didn't want to” says Debby. “If you take out a loan like that you have to put your house as collateral. So I refused.”
• You might just find you hold the cards as the buyer. "There was little Mexican stand-off. At the end of the day, he couldn't sell the business from under me because who's going to buy a business with an MD who doesn't want to get sold?”
• Be careful about losing control over a business you own. "There are lessons there – I'll never let myself get in the position where somebody else is running my business."
Now Debby and her business partner Andrew are in control of a fantastic agency that's set for growth.
Join us and ask Debby your questions if you’re thinking of doing anything like this.