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What's the best way to sell your business in 2021?

23 Picture1Over the past year, many owners have been working hard to keep their businesses afloat. Now, as things are turning around, some are asking “Should I sell my business?” Here are some steps to follow to achieve the best price and experience.

Step 1: Get a business valuation
Once you know the value of your business, you’ll have the opportunity to increase its worth before listing to achieve a higher selling price. In today’s climate, business valuation experts will be assessing your 2021 revenue and earnings. Meanwhile, ignoring your 2020 profits. That’s why it’s crucial to get your business to where it was pre-COVID or better.

Step 2: Organize your financials
Buyers are shifting their focus to businesses that not only survived the pandemic but will provide long-term viability. Before choosing to make an offer, they’ll want to know everything about your business — from your financial statements and taxes to your inventory and equipment. This is the time to take care of any outstanding orders, like tax liens or PPP loan forgiveness, that can prevent any sale from going through. For a smooth transaction, meet with a business advisor to review your financials before you begin the sales process.

Step 3: Prepare your exit strategy
You shouldn’t wait until the next downturn to sell your business— it’s always good to sell when things are getting better.
Putting a sound plan in place will help facilitate a faster exit. It can also help you achieve a higher return on investment. Baby boomer business owners will be looking to retire in the upcoming years, overwhelming the market. This is the perfect time to maximize your value and ensure your business stands out from the pack.
There are many exit strategies to consider — selling to friends or family, selling to an internal party, or selling on the open market. Each plan of action has its advantages and disadvantages.

Step 4: Find a business broker
The most important thing an owner can do while selling their business is focusing on running their business. A broker uses their expertise and aggressive marketing program to create competition for you, manage prospects and help you achieve the best price. No matter the size of your business or industry, a business advisor is going to be an expert. With the right guidance and advice, you’ll be able to seamlessly sell your business to the right buyer.

Step 5: Qualify potential buyers and negotiate
One of the main reasons a transaction will fall apart is because buyers fail to secure loans after entering into a sales agreement. When you work with a broker, buyers are qualified for financial ability to meet the offer.

A business broker can approach and continue to track potential buyers without weakening your position. The best part is brokers will control the information being released, and pre-qualified buyers are required to execute a confidentiality agreement. This will protect you and your company from someone prying through your financials without proper supervision.

When you’re selling a business, especially in a hot market, it’s crucial to negotiate to achieve the best price and terms. With the help of a professional, you’ll be able to avoid confusion during your sales transaction. They’ll be able to identify when a buyer is asking for too little and have your best interest at heart.

The First Amendment and Freedom of the Press

01 N1809P30001HWe Americans are proud of our First Amendment — a guarantee that government at any level cannot restrict freedom of speech in the United States — and we should be. It safeguards our own individual speech and that of the “press.” Originally the press was defined by our primary news and opinion medium — newspapers — but today translates to “media,” encompassing print and digital platforms, ones common to me and those I have never heard of and will likely never use.

But I am nervous about our First Amendment and particularly, the freedom of the press. As you and I speak with millions of different voices and opinions, local media is speaking less and less. That means we know less and less about what is happening in our own communities.

The press, which began with relatively few voices, has long since morphed into millions of voices with a versatile range. From television networks with distinct points of view and unrestricted social media comments to individual blogs and podcasts representing every viewpoint and experience under the sun, a lot is being said. We are all free to partake of as much or as little of this as we please. We can and do read, watch and listen to voices that agree with ours, relaxing with our own choir in an echo chamber that preaches only to us and those like us. Successful politicians of all stripes know to keep their friends close and their enemies closer. Otherwise, we have no clue what others are thinking and doing. It is as if we are living in the tower of Babel, an existence dangerous indeed.

Dangerous as well is the consolidation of media throughout our nation. Gone from most places, including Fayetteville and Cumberland County, are locally owned and operated news outlets, including newspapers and radio and television stations. Cape Fear Broadcasting, a local media company that carried local news and broadcast editorials, was sold to a publicly traded corporation 20 years ago. The Fayetteville Observer is now owned by a national newspaper chain. With such consolidation have come “synergies,” which translate into fewer local jobs and much less local news.

Estimates vary, but The New York Times reports that 1 in 5 newspapers in the U.S. have shut down. Researcher Penny Abernathy at UNC-CH’s School of Journalism and Media puts the number at about 1,800 since 2004, roughly 100 a year. Actual closure of local broadcasting outlets is not as dramatic, but the existence of fewer newsrooms and reporters is taking a toll. Local news media are shadows of their former selves, and many U.S. communities are now local news deserts.

So why should we care that news outlet voices are decreasing and that less local, state and regional news coverage exists? We should care because how else will we know what our local and state elected officials are up to? What is Fayetteville City Council doing with downtown development? How are our law enforcement agencies handling diversity issues? What is the Cumberland County Board of Education doing to help students recover from a year away from in-person classes? How is the General Assembly going to fund the UNC and community college systems? Unless you plan to attend every meeting of every elected body, you will be unaware that local media coverage is absent. Don’t even think about trusting random social media posts for accurate local news. To read more on this, see the Brookings Institute 2019 report “Local Journalism in Crisis: Why America Must Revive Its Local Newsrooms.”

Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglas, Patrick Henry and other earlier Americans who saw a need for eternal vigilance to preserve liberty could not have imagined today’s cacophony of voices. That we struggle to agree on basic facts about our nation would astound them, but that is our present state. We do not have to agree with much less like the views of other people and news outlets, but we ignore them at our own and our nation’s peril.

It is up to us to protect our precious First Amendment by keeping ourselves informed as best we can, even about events, ideas and points of view with which we disagree.

Especially about those with which we disagree.

Editor's Note: This Essay on Liberty by Dickson first appeared in the July issue of Women's View magazine.

Harlem Globetrotters bring new tour to the Crown Coliseum

10 DragonThe World-Famous Harlem Globetrotters are bringing their newly reimagined Spread Game Tour to the Crown Coliseum on Aug. 4, at 7 p.m. This new tour is a basketball event like no other. Ankle-breaking moves, jaw-dropping swag, and rim-rattling dunks are only some of the thrills you can expect from this fully modernized show. Part streetball from the players who defined it, part interactive family entertainment, the new tour will show off the best of the Globetrotters in a dazzling exhibition of talent and game.

The Spread Game Tour is the rescheduled event from the March 2020 game that was cancelled due to COVID. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at CapeFearTix.com, at the Crown Complex Box Office and at Leisure Travel Services on Fort Bragg.

This tour introduces new premium fan experiences with unprecedented access and interaction, including celebrity court passes, meets and greets with players, and in select markets, the #SQUADZONE, where fans have the opportunity to feel like part of the show.

For over 95 years, the Harlem Globetrotters organization has been committed to spreading joy through their artful athleticism and unparalleled basketball skill. The Globetrotters have always been global ambassadors of goodwill. The reimagined team is even more committed to bringing their voice to social justice conversations while inviting communities all over the U.S. to come together and recognize the power of our commonalities and celebrate our differences. The Globetrotters’ mission, to spread game and bring family entertainment to the world, continues to drive them today.

The originators of basketball style, influencers on today’s game, and skilled athletes of the highest order, the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters have showcased their iconic talents in 124 countries and territories on six continents since their founding in 1926. Proud inductees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, their mission to spread game and bring entertainment to the world continues to drive them today. The Globetrotters are innovators of the game who popularized the jump shot, slam dunk, and invented the half-court hook shot.

For nearly a century, the Globetrotters have exhibited Black excellence on and off the court, entertaining, inspiring and advancing the racial progress of today. The Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc. is a subsidiary of Herschend Enterprises, the largest family-owned themed entertainment company in the U.S.

For more information about the Harlem Globetrotters, visit the Globetrotters' official website  www.harlemglobetrotters.com  and follow them on social media.

Fantasy explores timeless truths

14 Mountain FOlk by JOhn Hood cvoerI see you’ve written another book. What’s this one about?”

“It’s called 'Mountain Folk.' It’s a historical-fantasy novel set partly in North Carolina during the Revolutionary War.”

“It’s a what?”

I’ve had some version of this conversation many times in recent months. Having spent most of my journalism career writing about government and politics, and authoring books of economic and political history, people assume any new project of mine would fall into the same category.

When they learn I’ve written a novel — and particularly when they discover it doesn’t just have an historical theme but also includes dwarfs, elves, magic, and monsters — they grow concerned. Am I having a midlife crisis, or indulging some childhood whim?

Not at all. While I greatly enjoyed writing "Mountain Folk," and hope that my readers will enjoy it as a rollicking tale of frontier life and high adventure, I admit there is more than just simple escapism going on. Perhaps it’s just because I was in the 4-H Club growing up, but I believe I can summarize my reasons for writing the novel in four words: History, Heroes, Heritage, and Humanity.

First, I hope to encourage a greater understanding of and appreciation for our country’s history. According to one recent survey, only a third of Americans possess enough historical knowledge to pass the U.S. citizenship test. Most can’t say which countries were on which sides in World War II, or why Americans declared their independence from the British empire.

Second, I want to rescue, refresh, and expand the concept of American heroism. Yes, historical figures such as George Washington, Daniel Boone, and Abraham Lincoln were imperfect in real life. We should come to know as much as we can about them, warts and all.

But we can and should still admire the important contributions these old-school folk heroes made to the growth and development of our country, even as we properly integrate a broader variety of tales into the story of America. In "Mountain Folk," one of the main characters is a Cherokee heroine named Nanyehi who as a young woman led her people to victory in battle but later in life became a legendary peacemaker.

Third, I use elements of history and folklore to explore what it really means to be an American. Our country is different from most others in a key respect: we do not share a common ethnic heritage. During centuries of migration — some voluntary, in search of a better life, and some involuntary, the consequences of removal or the slave trade — America has become a dynamic, sprawling, sometimes-brawling society encompassing many different peoples, religions, values, and cultures.

The resulting diversity can be vibrant and powerful. But Americans still require a common creed to unify us, and a common set of institutions to convert abstract principles into practical governance. Freedom is central to that common creed, or so I argue in the pages of "Mountain Folk."

Finally, although my novel has many non-human characters, I actually use them to illustrate the inescapable realities of human nature. We are all fallen creatures. We yield to temptation. We make mistakes. Even the best of us, if entrusted with great power, may end up abusing it, insisting all along that our noble ends justify ignoble means.

“We always have a choice — a choice whether truly to live according to our principles, or simply to survive by abandoning them,” one of my fairy characters says towards the end of the book. “With that freedom to choose comes the responsibility to accept the consequences. I accept mine. I will not submit. I will not be complicit to tyranny. If that robs me of my home forever, so be it.”

Now, "Mountain Folk" is hardly a history textbook or a philosophical treatise. There are heroes, villains, thrilling rescues and epic battles. Daniel Boone even fights a giant, fire-spitting salamander! But there’s a serious purpose underneath — a fact that should come as no surprise to longtime readers of my column.

Barney Fife was right

04 IMG 7711Do things seem a bit odd to you lately? Do you find yourself being a chip off the old blockchain? Confused? Puzzled by the latest developments?

Well, Bunky, you have come to the right place. Mr. Science is here today to explain life to you. After both of my faithful readers finish this column, all will be understood. As Alex said in “A Clockwork Orange,” the meaning of life will be “As clear as an unmuddied lake. As clear as an azure sky of deepest summer. You can rely on me, friend.”

Let us begin by noting a couple of recent curious art world events which in the first blue light of morning seem unrelated and hard to understand. Life is controlled by the Prime Directive that there are no coincidences, everything is related to everything else. The Prime Directive, like gravity, is not just a good idea, it’s the law.

Herein lies the tale of when Beeple met MetaKovan. An artist named Beeple sold an NFT for $69 million. This was good news for Beeple and the Christie Auction House which handled the sale. Right now you are probably asking yourself, “Self, who is Beeple, what is an NFT, and who paid $69 million for a JPEG computer image?”

As Samuel L. Jackson said in "Pulp Fiction," “Allow me to retort.” Beeple turns out to be the nom de plume of Mike Winkelmann who lives just down the road from us in Charleston, South Carolina, which incidentally is also the home of the world-famous Purple Buffalo night club. Beeple is a computer geek who is also an artist.

He created the digital artwork called “Everydays: The First 5000 Years” as a Non Fungible Token, which abbreviates into NFT. An NFT is essentially a picture on the internet similar to cats playing the piano on Facebook. But unlike the musical cats which anyone can copy, an NFT original only shows up in one place on the owner’s computer screen. The original digital image uses the same magic that Bitcoin’s block chain uses to keep track of who owns which Bitcoin. Mr. Science does not understand how Bitcoin works. It just is, at least for the time being until it vanishes into the digital ether.

The new proud owner of Beeple’s masterpiece is an art patron named Vignesh Sundaresan who also goes by the superhero name of MetaKovan.

MetaKovan made his money in the crypto currency market which is where “Everydays” was born. MetaKovan explained he would have paid even more for the “Everydays” JPEG as it represents the first digital art asset which will become a part of art history. So now you know about NFTs. Aren’t you glad you stuck around? But wait, there is more in the bonus round below.

Also, from the Art Desk comes the news that over 15,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org urging Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to buy and eat the "Mona Lisa."

The petition is quite simple: It says “Nobody has eaten the 'Mona Lisa' and we feel Jeff Bezos needs to take a stand and make this happen.” Why you might ask, should Jeff Bezos purchase and devour the "Mona Lisa?"

Signers of the petition have offered a number of reasons: “Who else is gonna eat it?," “I’m signing to draw attention to how ridiculous and dangerous this level of capital accumulation is. No one should be that rich," “It should be rolled up like a froot roll up and swallowed whole”, “There are billionaires in Asia who can’t even afford to eat a de Kooning, and here is the richest man in the world refusing to eat a perfectly good da Vinci," “Come on Jeff, you know you want to," “Mona Lisa is just the appetizer before the Sistine Chapel," "I believe this will truly help the world."

This list goes on and on. There is a ground swell of support for Jeff to eat the "Mona Lisa." The USA Today article estimated Jeff has a net worth of $201 billion and the estimated worth of the "Mona Lisa" today is about $850 million. Mere pocket change for Jeff. It is definitely doable if the French government will cooperate. If France won’t sell, Jeff can just buy France, allowing him to own the "Mona Lisa." Then it’s break out the Texas Pete hot sauce and chow down on the
"Mona Lisa."

To the untrained eye, these events may seem insane. However, consider what Deputy Barney Fife said when Andy and Helen got trapped in a cave. Barney told Thelma Lou the reason he didn’t like caves is because of bats.

Barney: “Bats. Do you know what they do? They fly in your hair and get tangled up in there and lay their eggs and you go crazy. You want a head full of bat eggs? Well, I don’t.”

Clearly what has happened is too many people have been going into caves. They have gotten their hair full of bat eggs. Barney was right all along. The world has gone crazy.

Today’s lesson: Wear a hat. Avoid bat eggs in your hair. Remain calm and save the "Mona Lisa."

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