Christopher Whitson

Dad, investor, ๐ŸŒŽ traveler, .NET dev, advisor,
ocean swimmer, coffee nut, sailor, and smooth operator.

Apparently I'm fishing and am NOT a serious buyer...

Since I take over and acquire businesses for a living, I occasionally spend time rummaging through Craigslist. (I know...I know)

You never know...I might stumble onto something great. And I like to gauge how the real seller temperature is for a city based on what people who aren't with a broker are asking for run-of-the-mill small businesses.

Against my better judgment, I responded to a very vague business listing.

They were only asking $10k and said it was bringing in $33k revenue annually but didn't have time to grow it because of other business. Yeah, this screams Craigslist scammer or wantrepreneur, but it was in Las Vegas and I planned on being there in a couple months anyway. I could at least check it out. I was thinking at the time that maybe I could automate parts of it with software and hire some sales people and get a little extra income coming in (or better if I got lucky!)

This is exactly what I sent:

I'm exploring buying a business in Las Vegas. I'm looking for food production businesses, however...though a good business can come from anywhere and I keep my eyes open for opportunities. I'm also experienced in tech/startups. Always curious to look under the hood of anything that may be a good deal.

Tell me more about what you're selling...

All the best,
-Chris Whitson

I was either expecting the usual scammer stuff or crickets. But this gem came back:

I apologize Chris but because I'm getting so many flakey responses and you don't seem like you either have the money or just fishing I won't respond to your request.

Thank you,

Let's make something clear: the listing was 4 sentences long. It had price, annual revenue, said that it has "no overhead" (which I know is BS), and that they weren't scamming & seriously wanted to sell this operating, profitable biz to someone. I wrote back and they were the one fishing with such little info (not even what kind of business it was) and that I would flag the listing, which I did.

Wrote me back :

Dude grow up. I have a real secure document destruction company. Most either don't have the money or they are fishing. How do I know you're serious?

Obviously I'm not doing business with this person.

There's a 90% chance I'm going to be asked to sign an NDA before any "secrets" can be revealed and I can already imagine the nightmare it will be to get to a close. So I'm 100% passing!

Later, though, I was thinking that maybe this person is just so frustrated with the crappy market on Craigslist. It had been up over 20 days no broker is likely going to do much; maybe a little advice, but that would be it. So I put on my big boy pants and offered advice to how to seriously filter through the haystack & possibly sell that little biz someday.

And now I'm passing the advice I gave on to you as well. There are serious buyers out there, but most sellers are really worried about the wrong things. And it's a buyers market.

It's a BIG buyers market.

Sellers need buyers way more than the buyers need them.

New businesses to buy are growing on trees right now!

So here's my tips if you want to sell a small, sub $100k business on Craigslist to a real buyer with the ability to complete the deal:

  1. EVERY potential buyer is fishing. Even if they wanted exactly the business being sold at the exact price asked in exactly the condition it exists...there's still a chance they may not buy it. Esp today. There are so many more biz sellers than buyers. You're going to lose some really nice fish.
  2. There will always be tire-kickers. But sometimes tire-kickers can turn into buyers when something they probably have no control over improves. Don't let them waste your time, but don't be rude to them.
  3. It's freaking Craigslist... There will be scammers and bots. Just block them and move on.
  4. You're getting a lot of bites but not pulling good fish anywhere near the boat. You need more information about what you're selling and what you're willing to do to sell it. 33k revenue is nothing, what's the free cash flow? If it's less than 5-6k you're not getting many serious buyers at $10k bc few ppl are paying 2x FCF for such a tiny biz. If it's all cash only, no seller carry, say that. If you're negotiable on price say so.
  5. Don't say there's "no overhead", that's a scammer line and a serious buyer is likely going to hard pass the seriousness of this being a hobby vs a business. Every business has overhead. 0% operating cost businesses don't exist. 100% operating margin businesses are very, very rare and only temporarily so.
  6. (This is the one that most sellers hyper-focus on and it just makes everything difficult) There's a 99.9% chance that there's nothing special or secret about your business. So explain to everyone what you're selling. Tell them what's special and what warts there are. There's a reason you feel like a big fishing expedition with nothing in the're spooking the fish bc they're scared of what you really are bc you haven't told them anything. Go look at some good business listings on broker sites. The good ones list the profit margins, EBITDA, inventory value, FF&E value, how long in business, what their customer mix is, how much their rent is + sq footage, why they're selling, etc. You want to attract serious buyers then you've got to be a serious seller.  Vague info, asking buyers to sign an NDA before giving up anything; that stuff wastes more time than just putting out what people need to know to make an offer. THEN they can deep dive due diligence and all that. That way you know people already have 75% of the info they need to make a decision to proceed and you'll spend 1 email exchange max on anyone who's not serious. Anyone that needs the last 25% of info should just make an offer already.
Aside from me making the sentence in item #6 bold, that's word for word what I sent back. I haven't heard anything at the time of this posting and I likely never will. I said "best of luck in your future endeavors" and hit send.

Maybe I'll bump into a better listing for a document destruction business for sale soon. That would be nice. Esp if I check back later and it's been taken down, which I hope means a buyer was found and reeled all the way into the boat.

So to close....I want to reiterate what I think was the most important part of this entire post:

If you want to attract serious buyers then you have to be a serious seller.

COMING SOON: Sit-down With A Staffer

UPDATE 2020: I haven't done diddly with this. Something else I was working on earlier in the summer was using up more of my attention than anticipated. I like this idea though, so shelving it for future possibilities.

I'm trying something new.

It's still in it's infancy (zygote stage is more like it) so bear with me as I want the subject matter to be as organic as possible.

I'm a management and customer service fanatic. 

As such, I think almost every business gets management/customer service or both of these seriously wrong more than they get it right. A lot.

It's the biggest frustration in my life as a consumer and as a business professional.

I'm always in search of how we can make this better and may have come up with a method that could help.

My family already travels about freely as it is, so we're in a good position to do this on the road; sampling different people/businesses in different parts of the country (even the world).

I'm going to interview the people that are working on the trenches at America's businesses.

Find out what their finances are like, why they like/hate their work, what they wish their boss understood about them that maybe they don't, etc.

I think it's important that people hear from the underpaid, overworked, looked-over, and unengaged people in our society. They have voices that need to be heard and it is my aim to not only give them a voice, but help them improve their situation.

I'll give them some advice based on their SWAS interview. Then, with their approval, I'll get in touch with whoever runs the company and interview them. We'll have a candid conversation about bridging the gap between the two roles for that particular business. I'm thinking I'll approach this as a mediator or facilitator.

Every situation will be different. Some interviews may be done as a group, and some may not get very far at all for fear of reprimand or embarrassment. Though I think even those situations with dead ends will give actionable information for others to learn or take inspiration from.

Check back often. I'll probably feature entries on Twitter and LinkedIn as they are posted, so check there if this website is not part of your normal internet commute. They'll all be in the "Sit-down With A Staffer" category to make them easier to find.

If you have any suggestions or would like to be interviewed, leave a comment below or get in touch with me on Twitter if you're on there. Managers/owners are encouraged to reach out if you have the suspicion your employees aren't jiving with you or your company.

We'll come to you as a normal part of our travels as we feel this will be best performed in is an extremely personal issue and deserves that kind of attention. There is no cost for staff or management to participate.

[NOTE] your privacy is important. I don't want anyone to get fired who doesn't want to be. We'll do what is necessary to get employee voices heard without revealing their identity if we have to. Please do not be afraid to reach out. It could possibly improve your work life for decades to come.

Want to grow your network? Meet fewer people.

Attending mass networking events to build your network is counterproductive unless you limit who you're there to see.

It's not a volume game; go for quality instead.

Your best network-building comes from few-to-few interactions; intimate encounters with one to a few people are much more productive than a big room full of people.

Some tips:

  • Few will do anything with your business card. Don't hand one out unless sincerely asked.
  • Don't drink or eat anything. The level of conversations you can have with both your hands free is multiplied exponentially.
  • Create your own tribe. Don't join a group already conversing; look for the wallflower standing off to the side. They'll be aware of things the rest of the room isn't noticing. If others want to come join the group you've started...let them in.
  • Meet new contacts ASAP. If someone gives you their contact information, ask if they want to have a 1-on-1 soon. If yes, let them know you'll reach out and schedule within the next business day. Do that.
  • Help others. When you meet up with people you've met, find out what they need help with and either help them or put them in touch with someone who can. No strings attached.

This is how you build STRONG networks.

Is it time to let employees work from anywhere?

This post will be short, because it's such a no-brainer.

Yes, employees should be encouraged to work from anywhere. It's been widely feasible for at least five years or more.

You mean from home, right? Surely not anywhere...

Nope. I mean literally ANYWHERE.

Read the article first. Then do what you can to employ remote workers anywhere you possibly can.

If you have a problem with that or not sure how/where you can take advantage of this highly profitable tactic, get in touch with me via Twitter. We can make it happen.

Why you should support universal basic income...

Its 2019 and Andrew Yang* is running for President of the United States. He's really pushing his "Freedom Dividend" proposal of paying every single adult in the US $1,000 a month with no strings attached.

Obviously he's going to get pushback. Most of it is from people who have no clue what they are talking about.

Detractors claim it's too expensive, not necessary, or will only create lazy people.

There are ZERO facts to back up these claims because it really hasn't been tried before at scale.

Mr. Yang (as well as other supporters of UBI) is focusing on the role of automation replacing human workers in low-wage jobs,

I, however, have been a proponent of UBI for several years for one singular purpose: velocity of money.

Giving unrestricted money to people, especially poor and lower-middle class people, is the strongest economic stimulus there is.

They are guaranteed to spend it.

Some of them will spend it because they have to, living paycheck to paycheck. Others will spend it because they just aren't educated enough to know what to do with excess funds at the end of the pay period once the bills are paid. This is a reflection on the horrible way we ignore financial literacy education in this country; it's not a dig on the intelligence of poorer folks.

And where do they spend that money? Everywhere!

They'll eat out at restaurants, buy better quality clothes, eat better food, and maybe even go on vacations. Every dollar will be spent (and taxed). If we give a billion dollars to a handful of rich people, they won't spend it all. It's hard to spend that amount of money; most people have a hard time comprehending how much a billion actually is.

But if you split up that billion dollars and give it to a million retail cashiers, each one of those cashiers would pump their $100 cut into the economy in less than a week; I have no doubt. Right now there is so much money being held by the upper class, they just can't spend it fast enough. We're moving money (n transactions) at about the same frequency as we were in the early 1970's when the minimum wage more reflected cost of goods. That's pretty damn sad.

So dig in, do some research. There's a lot of benefit to putting money in the hand of poorer folks and those living paycheck to paycheck. If we're able to provide healthcare as a right, increase the minimum wage, and provided a basic income to all adults...our economy would go gangbusters. Then all we need to do is steer it in the right direction by making slight course corrections.

UBI is probably one of the simplest benefits to implement compared to healthcare for all, so why not start there?

* I haven't chosen a candidate to support at the time of this writing. I follow Mr. Yang on Twitter, but have not supported his campaign by volunteering or making a donation. I mention him because he's the only candidate proposing a policy that would change the economy in such a big way.

Change: the greatest fucking thing in the world

Growing something new is about embracing change.

Change fast and change often.

New data comes in.

Change something.

More data comes in.

Change again.

I just rewrote the Bomvida home page and "Learn More" page.

Too many unsure what we actually do.

I refined the message.

It won't be the last.

I go looking for things to change on purpose.

I ask people what they think all the time.

It's because I really care about making them successful.

I get shit done because of this eagerness for change.

I will try things.

Try anything.

Because I can change the future.

I can change the fucking future.

THAT is the most powerful thing in the universe.

Which means I hold amazing power in the universe.

And that rocks.

So go ahead:

Roll with it.

Anything can change at any moment.

You can change anything at any moment.

Be prepared for that.

A lawyer, a priest, and an introvert walk into a bar...

No joke here.


I'm an introvert

People who have known me for many years find that shocking because they know I've been active in the theatre (see how I spelled it correctly) since I was 9.

I hate curtain calls.

I don't want to meet in the green room afterwards.

And I definitely don't want to hear how great my performance was.

You don't have to tell me because I could feel it oozing from you while performing onstage.

That's why I do it.

I do appreciate person to person interaction, though.

Real interaction. Not social media online interaction.

That's why I'm creating the future of networking.

Lots of awesome tools out there to help you connect with people.

You're reading this on one of them right now. (thanks for the platform LinkedIn!)

I'm competing against LinkedIn.

We're building tools that are used only as tools.

You need to use them with people.

With people you can see, touch, smell, and hear.

Otherwise they are useless.

It's this interaction of the senses that makes networking effective.

And we're making networking really fucking effective.

Our mobile app is useless without another person.

If you only use the online platform, you'll be wasting your money.

Our goal is to match people with complimentary needs.

Before they know they need to meet them.

This will be huge.

Our goal is to put people 1ยบ of separation away from their next beneficial contact


And in person.

How we do that is complicated.

How you do it is easy.

You just sign up and participate.

We'll take care of the rest. <-- CLICK ME!

No more messing around.

The future of networking. Even for introverts.


Both a noun and a verb.

Bomvida <--- CLICK ME   will exploit networking's full potential

Networking that is stupid-easy

Right now it is quite boring.

However, I've never built anything for current markets

I build things for the future

The real magic of networking will happen here.

All of your questions.

Your answers.

Your human interactions.

Will be analyzed.

Analyzed extensively.

Your activity will be applied to algorithms.

Networking will not be random anymore.

Your success will not be by chance.

Bomvida will curate relationships to make you better.

Bomvida will match you with people you NEED to meet.

We'll predict who,

Before you even know you need them.

You're welcome!