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a blog by Chris Barrow

La P'tite Folie - a little madness

After a busy marketing workshop day it was a delight to meet with former clients and owners Yann and Gilly Maidment at one of our favourite French restaurants in Edinburgh last night.

Former owners of Stafford Street Dental (and quite the groundbreakers in their time), the Maidments became early-adopters of "Coach Barrow" and "The Dental Business School" and we went through a phase where they came to everything I did, even summer retreats in Devon country houses.

In 2018 they realised that it was time to consider their exit and, having engaged with Paul Graham at Christies (with whom I reported my lunch a few days ago), from a pool of literally 30 potential enquiries (some serious, some spurious), they eventually sold to Portman on terms that would today sound almost too good to be true (how the market has changed).

Covid put a spanner in the works of their earn-out (as for so many others) but they had happily taken my advice to ensure that, if it were to be a corporate sale, the "up-front" was enough for a secure financial future.

Ironic that we choose a restaurant called "The Little Madness" for this conversation.

Over my:

  • Grilled King Scallops, Brioche Herb Crust, Asparagus, Radish, Dill and Citrus Beurre Blanc;

  • Roast Rump of Scottish Lamb, Aubergine Caviar, Mash, Asparagus, Veal Jus

(washed down with a very nice Cotes du Rhone), I listened to the story of three madnesses:

  1. Madness #1 - owning and building a practice;

  2. Madness #2 - selling a practice;

  3. Madness #3 - working for a corporate during an earn out and during Covid.

Proof, if I needed it, that the only reason the grass ever does seem greener on the other side of a fence is because somebody is liberally applying a whole lot more fertiliser, most likely provided by a bull.

Now before any corporate starts getting touchy (even my friends at Portman) - I want to emphasise that the bovine excrement metaphor applies at all times of madness outlined above.

There's always something or someone causing distress.

Pre-corporate sale, life with the corporate appears rosier - after the sale, life before the corporate seems to have been rosier.

That's a story I hear pretty consistently.

Life, my friends, is simply a little madness.

So let me reassure you that, whether you are still building a business, considering selling a business or have sold - there is no part of your existence that the madness is going to calm down.

Get yourself suited and booted, get your game face on and get on with it - and when situations, things and people cause the madness - call me and I'll guide you through.

It was such a pleasure to see Yann and Gilly last night - earn out over, fully retired from clinical and business life (Yann doing some teaching), riding their bikes all over the place and enjoying a healthy and happy retirement - long may they do so.

This morning - I'm back in the madhouse - see you there.

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