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6 Keys to a BIG Exit

On a recent podcast, Mark Moses, CEO and Founder of CEO Coaching International, reflected that one of the most extraordinary parts of our 2022 Make BIG Happen Summit was hearing from clients whom we had helped achieve BIG exits.

Three of our BIGGEST success stories took the stage in Miami and delivered master classes on the vision, strategy, and commitment that CEOs need to bring their businesses across the finish line. Here are six key insights from those conversations:

Rick Stern was the Co-Founder of Nitel, a leading provider for companies that have shifted to cloud-based networks and need to prioritize connectivity-driven services to support multi-site networks. Earlier this year, Rick and his team closed a BIG sale.  

Rick Stern on managing metrics:

“I think it’s essential to create as many metrics in every position in the company possible. Not everybody’s going to follow it, so you have to have people that can carry it out. Get automation on your system, so you have BI tools that produce reports. Waiting for VPs or managers to produce their own reports, and the accuracy and the excuses of what they’ll deliver, you just can’t rely on that. You have to manage it at a high level and make sure your IT department can build it for you. Creating those metrics and figuring out which ones move the needle is the tough part. But we continued to refine that constantly. And if you build the dashboards and have it all automated, there’s no excuse every week, every month. Where’s your report and what did the metrics say? It’s absolutely critical to proving that you’re driving in the right direction.”

Rick Stern on improving margins ahead of his BIG exit:

“In the end we drove net margins all the way up 27%. So in the last three years of running the business, we doubled the business, which we typically were doing every five years. We doubled it in three. I doubled EBITDA in the last 18 months of running the business. And multiples went up from what they were 10 years ago. So the stars aligned.”

Ryan Iwamoto was the Co-Founder & President of 24 Hour Home Care, a leading provider of senior and disability in-home care. At the end of 2021, Ryan’s company entered into a partnership with Alpine International’s portfolio company TEAM which resulted in a BIG exit.

Ryan Iwamoto on learning to pursue the right deal at the right time:

“In 2017 we went to market. We hired an investment banker. And we eventually got in touch with a firm that we really liked and had a lot of good commonalities with. We vibed with them really well and got all the way down to the finish line. And literally the day before closing, they got cold feet. We ended up walking away. And as painful as that process was, and disappointing, I learned a ton from going through that. We learned about what buyers are looking for, looked at what gaps we had at the business. And that really helped us in the second go-around in our transactions. Flash forward to 2021. We had some success during COVID and we said, ‘Hey, maybe this is a good time to go to market.’ And we were in a very fortunate situation where we didn’t have to do a deal. So I think that gave us some leverage in really finding the best partner for us. And we found the organization that was perfect in every aspect. Checked all the boxes. We wanted to continue to run the business and we found a partner that can help us scale and grow, but also keep us on as leaders. We still operate as an independent organization, so it was really the best of both worlds. “

Ryan Iwamoto on a key building block to a BIG exit:

“One is, hire a coach. You’re going to need someone that’s been there, done that, that can give you the advice and the wisdom. If you think about anyone that’s looking to accelerate in their personal life, athletically, or their professional career, it’s hard to do it by yourself, right? So I think bringing in a coach is going to help you get out of your comfort zone and achieve the goals that you want.”

Richard Paek was the CEO of Allied Lube Group, a Jiffy Lube franchisee that controlled 125 locations and was purchased by a subsidiary of Shell Oil.

Richard Paek on making a U-turn from bankruptcy to BIG:

“I was driving around in a Lamborghini. Nothing wrong with a Lamborghini, but it kind of represented that period of my life. I wasn’t paying attention to my businesses. Everything was easy and I was careless and my stores weren’t making any money. In 2009 I was facing bankruptcy. I was down to about 80 stores back in 2010. I think my success early on was the fact that I was hands-on and I paid attention to the details of the business. I basically got rid of some of the people that were really not performing and I picked our VP of Ops. He and I agreed to build the business from store level up. We would basically visit all the stores and check the basic fundamental things. We had to do the most important things first, and then everything was built on top of that.”

Richard Paek on continuing to build the business to grow towards a BIG exit:

“We built Allied to own forever. It was built to basically run as long as possible. But you have to have options. If I wanted to sell, and I counted on that, I don’t think we would’ve gotten the price that we did. We could have gone to 300- 500 stores with our team. We were built to grow. I didn’t have to sell and I forced myself to not rely on that sale. I was continuing to look at building the team right up to the closing date. And I think that was the key.”

Are you ready to Make Big Happen?

One important theme unites these BIG exits: none of these CEOs just got lucky. Like all of our most successful clients, they committed to The Make BIG Happen System and were diligent about setting goals, hitting short-term targets, and holding themselves accountable for continuous progress.

Our best practices aren’t theory, they’re proven to get results. If you’re ready to take your first step towards BIG, get in touch with us below.

About CEO Coaching International

CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 67.8% during their time as a client, nearly four times the U.S. average and a revenue CAGR of 25.5%, more than twice the U.S. average.

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