From the Editor – June 2007 eBiz Insider magazine. Download the complete issue in PDF format by clicking here.
I learned the meaning of that phrase when I faced selling a company that was part of my life for 13 years. The story goes like this. In 1994, Joe Palko and I bought a ferret. This furry little creature needed all the comforts of home but pet stores were less than accommodating. (See why up-sells are important!) Knowing other people were having a hard time finding a quality cage or comfortable hammock, we set out on a mission to make a few extra bucks by hawking ferret supplies on a very new medium called the Internet. TheFerretStore.com was born. Selling on line in 1994 was a challenge, but we carved out a nice little niche in the pet industry over the next 13 years.
In 2001, we started a second company called Solid Cactus to give other budding entrepreneurs great looking and functional websites. The demand was greater than we could have ever imagined and the company began to mushroom. Joe stepped away from TheFerretStore.com, while I stayed behind selling ferret hats and litter pans.
TheFerretStore.com was stable, growth was manageable and we had a strong foothold in the marketplace because of our iron-clad reputation among pet owners. Finally, I made the leap to Solid Cactus in mid-2005 leaving TheFerretStore.com in the hands of an established management team.
As Solid Cactus continued to grow the question continued to surface, “should we sell the pet company so we can concentrate more on Cactus?” We saw margins throughout the pet industry beginning to shrink, while the competition had deeper and deeper pockets. We saw a change in the wind.
We felt it. The time was right.
We’d built the company right and treated our customers right, so we wanted to sell right. We went with the largest pet supply mail-order catalog company in the country, Drs. Foster & Smith from Rhinelander, Wisconsin. The entire transaction was complete in 30 days. It was 13 years of memories which included a final important lesson. Go with your gut. When it tells you to move on, listen.