You’ve labored. You’ve woken up early every morning for the past many years. You’ve worked on weekends. You’ve worked on holidays. You’ve made countless sacrifices for your business to be successful and are finally enjoying the fruits of your labor. If you are like most small business owners you very well did all of this hard work yourself or with a few close friends or family members. As is the case with most things in life and with business, when things are good the number of people in your life are abundant.
When your business is doing well, it attracts people who may have an interest in investing or becoming your business partners. Maybe a relative sees how well the business is doing and wants to cash in and lend a hand. Perhaps, one of your longest and most reliable employees wants to become a supervisor and be vested in the company. Whatever the reason is, if you are like most small business owners the thought of having someone else to help steer the ship and shoulder the responsibility signals that you must be doing something right. Why else would they want to become a part of my business? An added benefit is you can turn a profit from the investment/sale of a portion of your business. There is nothing better than getting a sweet return on investment (“ROI”). However, as with all things in life, if it seems too good to be true it usually is… I don’t say that to scare you. I say it because A LOT, I repeat A LOT, of business partner relationships end in turmoil, legal disputes, and loss of personal relationships.
Better yet, what if you are conducting a transaction with someone you do not know that well? Would you leave your child with someone you did not know that well? Of course not!! You’re not irresponsible or reckless. You wouldn’t want something bad to happen to your child because you didn’t do your homework. If hiring a babysitter you would ask for reference. You might hop on the internet and make sure they aren’t on any sex offender registries. You may even call the local police department to ask them if they ever have had any contact with your babysitter (which is public record, BTW). Your business shouldn’t be treated any differently. After all it is your baby is it not?
Time and time again, business owners go into sales relationships and bring on partners without knowing anything about them. WHY? Just like you would not hand over your child to a stranger, don’t do so with your business either!! You need to know who the person is, what their financial situation is, and get a sense of if they are honest or not. That is where a private investigator comes in.
If you hire a private investigator they can not only conduct a comprehensive background on the individual but help you verify how honest the person is. For example, John Smith wants to by your business. You know him from a mutual friend who vouches for him. Mr. Smith presents you with an amazing offer, and he is willing to pay you more than you even considered asking for. This is where you subtly ask Mr. Smith some general questions about him. Where is he from? How did he like growing up there? Did he play any sports in high school? Which sports? Did he go to college? Which one? What was his major?
Why do you want to know all of that? BECAUSE IF HE LIES ABOUT ANYTHING SMALL HE SURE AS HELL WILL LIE ABOUT SOMETHING BIG!!
Unfortunately, our society puts so much pressure and emphasis on people to “have it all” and be rich and famous that people often hold themselves out to be more affluent, have better education, and be more successful than they actually, maybe. In reality, not everyone is an honest trustworthy person, and it is in any business owners best interest to understand who it is they are getting in bed with. That’s where we come in. OPS CIS LLC likes to consider itself among the best private investigators in the entire State of Arizona…neigh…the entire United States. WHOA, that is quite a bold statement you make there!! Why do we consider ourselves the best? Because we have always and will always DO OUR HOMEWORK!! Time and time again we surprise our clients with the results of what we are able to dig up, shake loose, and uncover about people and businesses. After all, it is what we do. This isn’t a pitch for our company either, but we use law enforcement grade databases (that are very, very expensive) and have the background and experience to know what we are looking for. In certain circumstances private investigators (through specific vendors that are SWIFT approved) can get access to personal finance information such as bank account balances and brokerage account balances. A WORD OF CAUTION HERE: There are a ton of companies that violate the law and will subject you to liability if they are doing this on your behalf because they simply do not understand the law. We do understand the law and only work with vendors who strictly comply with the law.
So in summary, if you are considering selling your business or bringing on new partners a few words to the wise:
- ASK QUESTIONS. Ask a lot of questions and learn everything you can about them, even things that seem irrelevant. Remember, if they are willing to lie about small stuff they definitely will lie about bigger stuff.
- IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT IS. Clearly, everyone has heard this expression and its for good reason because it’s sound in general theory. Either people overpromise or people are big dreamers, combine both, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Have a professional financial company assess the value of the company, so you know what it is worth. If someone is offering you way more than value (1) they are an idiot (so why would you want to have them as a partner, or they will mess up the sale) or (2) they are full of it and working an angle for some unknown reason.
- BE WILLING TO WALK AWAY. Remember it is your business and unless you plan on checking off of this mortal coil anytime soon, don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole. Walk away and live to fight another day with your sanity and business left intact.
- HIRE A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR. You don’t have to hire us (although we would very much appreciate it) but hire someone who is licensed, bonded, and insured to conduct private investigations in your state. Find a private investigator who specializes in dealing with businesses and understand a wide range of business types. If they don’t know what a DUNS # is then move on. A private investigator (especially the ones at OPS CIS) can help you make an informed decision on any potential transaction and is a hell of a lot cheaper than a lawyer when things go wrong…