Four reasons why people sell their hydraulic business

by Allan Sandilands

And one more why they might want to reconsider.

There are many reasons why people decide to sell a business, but here are four that we feel are the most common in our game and, is that the right decision?


It’s all good when you first start out, you are full of enthusiasm and the blood is pumping. You are learning the job and its challenges, you find out how important keeping a customer is and they find out how valuable having a decent contractor is. Ahh this is the life! You love the entire model of being outdoors and helping people get back up and running. If there’s one thing you couldn’t stand, it’d be cooped up in an office behind a desk. In fact, you feel sorry for the poor suckers that are.

But as your business grows, it gets harder to take a break and you find yourself working back nights and weekends to get it all done, turning what was once your favourite job, into a chore. You spend more time chasing parts than you do on the job and “yes honey, I’ll be home before midnight, I just have to invoice out some of these jobs, so we can get paid”.

And Bam! Enough is enough.

You are at burn out and you face your first major decision. Sell and take the cash or what’s left of it, have a decent holiday, then find a job where you don’t have to think and simply turn up for your daily task. Let the boss take the heat.


Continue on and employ someone to help you cope.

This creates its own set of challenges. You look for more work so you can afford to pay the wages, spend more hours teaching them or fixing up their stuff ups and the initial reason for putting them on is cancelled out and you are busier than ever. But at six months, everything begins to sink in, and you can now delegate call outs buying valuable paperwork, purchasing or organisational time.

It’s twelve months now with your new worker and the bank balance doesn’t seem to be recovering like it should; the wage load, a few niggles on the second vehicle, those sick days adding up and what, he wants holidays and a pay rise?

Jeepers! Doesn’t he know how much pressure this puts you under? So now you have twice the customers to look after, you are the one who was needing the break in the first place, but still haven’t had one! And while he’s been away the paper work has got out of hand and where are those parts you ordered and…..

Bam! Enough is enough.

You are going to sell and take the cash or what’s left of it, have a decent holiday then find a job where you don’t have to think and simply turn up for your daily task. Let the boss take the heat.


Push through, because you’ve got a reputation for being reliable and offering good quality product, you probably use Taipan hose and fittings, so it’s little wonder your customers think the way they do.

You gamble and take on another worker to help get on top of things. You put a couple of questions to your Accountant. Turns out, the difference between the price you are paying for product and the price you are selling product for was fine when you were by yourself, but now there are extra mouths to feed, it simply doesn’t add up.

Customers are calling and the numerous call outs at 11.30pm on Christmas Eve ensures they wouldn’t go anywhere else……surely!

You decide now is as good time as any to fix your situation and set your very busy business on track for the future, so you draft your first email….

Dear Customer,

We have been mates now for Blah blah blah blah…and by the way, your price is going up!

This opens the door to all sorts of accusations….

“You rip off, thieving so and so”

“I had your competition call in and they can do hoses for this bargain basement price”

“We’ve had a really good run on hoses and not changed a single hose in the last six months”

“I promise, I’ll pay this week”

“You’ll get the money when we get ours”

“Your guy totally stuffed that job up and we’re not paying”

“Sorry mate, I really want to pay you, but it’s all in the hands of the liquidators, my hands are tied”

And Bam! Enough is enough.

You think you’ll just sell and take the cash or what’s left, have a decent holiday then find a job where you don’t have to think and simply turn up for your daily task. Let the boss take the heat.


Let’s plough on, it’s got to get better. You have got a few workers now, survived the push back on the price increase, customers have settled down and the staff are doing most the manual labour. You spend the majority of your time in the office chasing stuff.

When you say stuff, you mean product, transport, order numbers, detail from the boys and debt. It doesn’t end there, you also chase money from the bank. Cash flow is tight and keeping enough in the account to cover wages on a weekly basis is a constant battle. Suppliers are on your back, you’re running out of excuses….then, the Tax Man calls and asks you to offer your first born as down payment for what you owe.

Something’s not right, you are not passionate like you used to be. You wonder why and on one of those long nights at the office, you put down your pen, lean back in the chair and try to figure it all out.

The staff are good, but with four people, it seems someone is forever on annual leave or sick or it’s a public holiday or they have a personal day, and that blimmen money is a constant drain, chasing, chasing, chasing. Re-work, quoting, product, invoicing, BAS, Superannuation. The list is endless…..but it’s not that. There’s something else…

You realise you are not doing what you love any more. You have gone from working outdoors helping people to working behind a desk, the same desk you wouldn’t have wished on your worst enemy. You stand up from your chair and head to the coffee machine, “it’s time to get off the merry-go-roundI have had enough.” The following day you ring a broker. Eager for the commission, he heads straight around.

Gidday. I’m John, so how much do you want for your business?”

“Well, if I am going to do what I want to do afterward, I will need this much money”.

“Hahaha, good one. How about we take a look at your books? What’s your turn over, company structure, forward contracts. What sort of sale would you prefer? Here’s a list of my fees, plus advertising costs”.

It all gets a little overwhelming, so you head down to your Accountant’s, where you ask a few questions of your own.

“How much should I sell for?”

“What is my company structure?”

“How much tax will I pay?”

“What will I be left with?”

And then the deflation, when you head back to your office with the realisation of how long your left over money would actually last, especially once the Tax Office takes their cut.


Chances are you are totally burned out and just need a good break. I have found so many business owners who have not taken a well deserved holiday and ended up regretting the sale of something they had worked so hard to build.

There is nothing wrong with selling a business, but make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Burn out at any stage of your business’s maturity, that ends up in a sale, can cause a heap of regret further down the track. There are so many benefits to owning your own business. There are likely many lifestyle benefits you haven’t taken into consideration. Ask yourself a few questions and see how you respond.

  1. Who have you been answering to while you have been in business?
  2. If you want to duck to the bank, take a couple of hours and head to your daughter’s concert, leave half an hour early, come in ten minutes late, have a chat to a customer for half an hour, call into BCF and have a look at that new rod, who have you been asking permission from?
  3. Once you sell, do you really want to work for someone else?
  4. What is the real amount you’ll end up with and how long will that realistically last you?
  5. What will selling do to my real time income or lifestyle?

Learning the rules of business is far too valuable to ignore and a massive reason to stay in the game. There are ways to improve out of sight, but we are so busy concentrating on the day to day we get lost in the job. Here’s a few ideas to start you thinking…

1. Are you in the right head space and if not, take some time to sort it out.

  • Do you have a clear direction?
  • Clear goals with written actions and deadlines for their attainment? And if you don’t, what should your team be aiming for?

2. Work on your values.

  • What are your personal values?
  • Do you expect your people to follow your values?
  • Do your people know what your values are?

 3. Don’t look for answers, look for reasons.

  • If you possess a good enough reason to do well, you will have little trouble with answers.
  • Find out the real reasons you are doing what you are doing. This will help create a mission and a vision.

4. Are your Professionals up to scratch?

  • What is your company structure and is that your best option?
  • Are you paying your people correctly? And what about yourself?
  • Are you covered legally should anything go wrong?
  • Are you receiving the right financial advice?

 5. Learn to read financials. 

  • Because your Profit and Loss Statement shows a profit does it mean you are in the black each month?
  • What does a Balance Sheet show you?
  • What is the difference between mark up and margin?

 6. Understand the value of people. 

  • People can be your biggest asset or your largest liability. The difference is in how you, the owner, see them.
  • If the way forward is hard, people are prepared to pay the price if they can see the future. If they cannot see, they don’t want to pay (I stole most of that line from Jim Rohn an awesome businessman and motivational speaker).
  • Skills can be taught, attitude can’t.

We have a genuine interest in helping your business succeed and ensuring you enjoy the journey. At Taipan, we are currently working on practical business learning tools, podcasts and online information. To find out more contact