To close our series with Sam, let’s talk about the joys of coming full circle in the business cycle. We ask Sam about his post-sale reflections and what retirement life is like for him.
- Post-sale reflections from an empty office
- The joys of coming full circle
- Sam’s last minute parting tips
Welcome to the final episode for our 3-part series with Sam De Longis.
In this episode, we chat with Sam about the joys of coming full circle in the business cycle. We ask Sam about his post-sale reflections, what retirement life is like for him and finally, we close this episode and this series with some last minute parting tip from Sam for all our business owners out there who are in the middle of building their businesses in the hopes of a strong sale one day.
So don’t go anywhere. Here we go!
Post-sale reflections from an empty office
Joanna: Moving to after the sale. The sale completed. There was champagne popping. We got to the figures we needed to. You got the full base plus you know whatever else was required. But then what?
And just before you answer, I have this very clear recollection of giving you a call and having a chat to you a couple of weeks afterwards and you were still in the office! But it was empty at that point.
Joanna: You still went back to the office! How long did you do that for Sam?
Sam: Six or eight months probably going into the office.
Joanna: Wow! Really?
Sam: Not every day. But I was going in. Probably the first three or four months, I was going there pretty much every day. There were a lot of things to untangle and wrangle. There’s still receivables coming in and stuff like that. Just a lot of things to wind back.
Let me just describe to you though. I mean I had at that point probably 15-20 people somewhere out on site. But there was always probably close to a dozen people in the office.
The first day I got in there, it was the first time I actually realised that like a body has a soul, a company has a soul as well. I just thought here I am some old bastard sitting here in this miserable and sterile environment. I’m walking around 250 square metres or something and there just no one here. It was really quite lonely and sad.
Whilst the sign Trilogy was still on the door and everything, there was just no soul there anymore. I don’t get emotional too much. But it was like, it’s not here anymore. It was quite interesting.
But yeah, there’s just a lot of things to unravel and I had to really do them there and it was fine. It doesn’t matter. I’d get up every morning and my wife and I are going to have coffee and breakfast so that was pretty good.
The biggest thing I think was the first day of not having to go to work. You don’t realise that at the time it’s like when you haven’t had a holiday for a while and you have a holiday and you realise how much you needed it.
Sam: The first day was how great it was to get up and not have a huge expectation on your day. And that’s probably the thing I like about retirement. It’s sort of great from that point of view. But it took a while.
I mean certainly at least six to eight months before I probably got completely clear of not going into the office. But that was by choice as well.
Joanna: I bet it was. Part of your letting go process.
Sam: Well I think so. It’s probably a little bit of all that as well. But that was all good. I wanted to make sure we did everything okay. I still had queries coming in and all sorts of silly things going on.
It probably does take a good six to 12 months for things to completely. I’ve had friends of mine who’ve just like employees and when they’ve retired they retire on day one and that’s it and all connections to do with work are completely gone. It’s not like that with a business.
Even though I wasn’t doing any working out periods or anything like that. There’s just a lot of stuff still to resolve and then all tax man stuff with accounts and all that sort of stuff. It almost became a full time job going to the accountant and handing out money and paying the money to the tax man and all that sort of stuff. It was almost full time.
The joys of coming full circle
Joanna: Tell us all now I guess about the joys of having come full circle. You told us about growing the business and then selling the business and so what do us business owners who are still in the growth phase have to look forward to out of retirement? What are you doing with yourself Sam?
Sam: Right. Well, if you do it right and I think I’ve been lucky enough to sort of do it right, wonderful. I’m doing all the things that I set out to do.
There were three major reasons. One is to spend more time with the grandkids and I have a total of five grandchildren now. Two which were born in the final months of just before I sold. Those little guys they’re five years old and just gone to kinder last year, pre-school this year. I’ve had been wonderful to spend a lot of time with them and that’s lovely and I’ve always spent as much time as I possibly could with my children. Even when I was working but to do this was really really special.
The other thing that I wanted to do quite a bit of travel and we’ve done quite a bit we’ve done at least one European holiday for four to six weeks for the last few years and something local, within Australia or maybe just nip up to Singapore which we were doing beforehand. But did anyway. That’s good.
And getting fit. Yes okay I’m just trying to do that. That’s the one that slipped away from me a little bit.
Joanna: You’ve always got to have room for growth Sam.
Sam: But I’m mowing my own lawn, doing my gardening. But I have as part of the discipline I’ve decided about, my wife and I about just under a year ago we’ve engaged a personal trainer. Just trying to keep fit. I think I’m 66 now. I’ll be 67 on St. Patrick’s Day coming up, so next month.
I think it’s important to keep yourself healthy because there’s no point having achieved some things and having a little bit of money and then not being fit and healthy to enjoy it. So I think the primary thing for us right now is make sure we stay fit and healthy so that we can continue to travel.
We’re going to Canada in May this year. Lifelong trip my wife always wanted to do and I’m very very pleased that were able to make that happen. And as I said to you before, I am relaxing in a very nice spot on the water right now. So yeah it’s been good. It’s been good.
Joanna: Oh that’s fabulous Sam. Well look I just want to thank you so much for your time. I have absolutely loved it.
Let’s take a break
Let’s take a short break. When we get back, Sam gives us his last minute parting tip for business owners who are in the middle of business building in the hope a strong sale one day.
And that’s next, I’m Joanna Oakey and you are listening to The Deal Room Podcast, brought to you by Aspect Legal.
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Welcome Back! Earlier, Sam talked to us about his post-sale reflections during the first few months after the deal completed, where he found himself coming back to an empty office. He then also talked about the joys of coming full circle and the sorts of things business owners can look forward to in retirement.
Let’s jump back to our conversation with Sam for some last minute parting tips for business owners who are in the middle of growing their business.
Sam’s last minute parting tips
Joanna: Do you have any suggestions, any last minute parting suggestions for our listeners who are in the middle of business building in the hope a strong sale one day, what’s your one tip today?
Sam: Well I think the thing is first of all. You’ve got to be doing something you want to do and that you’re passionate about and that you’ll do it almost as if you weren’t getting paid for it. If you don’t feel like that, it’s pretty hard to be successful.
- You need to want to do it because if you don’t want to do it, you’re not going to be happy and you won’t do well. I think if you like doing it you should do well.
- The other one is just be mindful. You are supposed to be making a business and it should be going forward. Don’t think you’ve arrived at some point.
- Don’t be too greedy and try to do something just because you want to sell it. I think there’s a difference. It’s like a motor vehicle. If you have a motor vehicle and you do it up just to sell, it looks different from one that you’ve looked after for the last 20 years and you’ve cherished it. People can see when a car’s been looked after for 20 years and how you felt about it when you sell it as opposed to something that you bought last week that was a wreck and painted it shiny to sell.
- I think that’s the difference. I think people can detect when you are just tarting something up just purely to sell, unless there’s some solid figures to back it up as to what it really is.
- The bottom line is just do what you really want to do. If you do that well, I think the value of the company and you making money should be a byproduct not the other way around.
- That’s the way I’ve always looked at life.
- I’ve never pursued money for money’s sake. It doesn’t interest me.
- But doing well and knowing though that obviously if you do well you do expect to get rewarded and so you should, but that’s not the primary focus. I think people can detect that.
- You just do what you want to do. Make sure that the business is solid. If it’s producing good money for you, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t produce good money for someone else.
- Make sure that someone else has got a good opportunity to make more money after you sell it. Otherwise why is he buying it. After all, he’s the guy that’s paying you for it. You need to look after him as well. I think that’s it.
Joanna: Such sage words Sam. And I just want to say a heartfelt thank you. This has been fabulous. You shared so many great insights. I’ll definitely be listening to this one again and taking lots of notes. I’m sure our audience will be as well.
Sam: Do it at night time when you go to sleep and it will help you.
Joanna, thank you for the opportunity. It’s been great.
Look if this can help anybody or whatever or just give an insight into someone else, I’m also so pleased that you remembered me and I’m so pleased to be talking to you again.
Let’s wrap up!
And that concludes our 3-parts series with Sam De Longis. Each episode in this series featured a particular phase in the business cycle, and each one contains important, but slightly different, lessons about growing and selling a business.
As a quick recap, in part 1 Sam and I discussed his growth strategies – how he dominated a tactical position in a government panel for contracts in Perth and why this strategy was important in building his business for the sale. We then talk about how he came to the decision of exiting the business, and drilled into the thought process and motivations behind this conclusion.
In part 2, Sam talked about the fundamentals that we hear again and again. The importance of looking at your business from a buyer’s perspective and the importance of selling the business at the right time when it’s got strong value and still has value to give the acquirer into the future.
And finally, in part 3 – which is this episode – we came full circle and asked Sam about his post-sale reflections and the joys of retirement life. We then closed this episode and this series with some last minute parting tips from Sam for all our business owners out there who are in the middle of building their businesses in the hopes of a strong sale one day.
If you’re interested in learning more about Sam’s background story, you might want to tune in to our earlier episode in Talking Law, a sister podcast of The Deal Room, where Sam discusses how he started his business and weathered a few storms during two particular downturns in his business. Find that episode by heading over to www.talkinglaw.com.au and look for episode 49. We’ll be linking our show notes as well.
If you like what you heard today, please pop over to Podcasts on your iPhones or Stitcher for Android and subscribe to The Deal Room Podcast to be the first to know when a new episode is out. We release a brand new episode every Tuesday.
On our show notes, we also provide an option for you to download a copy of the full transcript to this episode if you’ld like to read it all in more detail. Just head over to our website at www.thedealroompodcast.com and look for this episode – episode 35.
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