7 Rules For Going Solo
NEARLY five years ago, I came within hours of selling Clif Bar Inc., the energy and nutrition foods company I had co-founded, for $120 million. Instead, I chose to buy out a 50 percent partner and go it alone. My wife Kit and I decided that 100 percent ownership was the right answer for Clif Bar, and we struck a deal that led to obtaining a loan and owning the whole company rather than taking on new equity partners. Here is a summary of why we decided to own it all:
1. Control of the Vision: When other partners come onto the bus, it becomes more difficult and complicated to steer toward the vision that defines the company.
2. Simplicity: Everything, every decision, every turn becomes less complicated when there are fewer owners to answer to. I do advocate consulting with outside advisers and peers.
3. More Nimble and Fast: The more owners involved, the more time it takes to make decisions.
4. Able to Take Bigger Risks: With multiple owners the tolerance for risk goes down.
5. No Hostile Takeovers: Every option I looked at led to the road of being bought out at some future date. As 100 percent owners, it’s 100 percent our decision whether we want to exit or not.
6. More Fun: “Being your own guide” puts the pressure on, but for us it is more fun and truly a wild adventure.
7. A Different Bottom Line: Sometimes we make decisions (organic ingredients, employee bonuses,etc.) when they may not make sense for the bottom line. But we are in business for other reasons.