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Entrepreneurs Panel

Richard O'Sullivan
David Pollock
Julie Meyer
Charlie Mullins
Jeremy Roberts
Michael Oliver
Laura Tenison
Jennie Johnson
Brian Hay
Debbie Pierce
Steve Purdham
Tony Caldeira

Take the money?

Steve Purdham

Has worked in the software industry for more than 25 years. Founded Surfcontrol in the early 80s and built it into a global provider of internet filtering software before it was sold to California-based Websense in 2007 for £201 million. Moved straight onto the launch of We7, an advertising-funded music download company supported by rock legend Peter Gabriel. We7 was relaunched in 2008 as an internet jukebox with 3.5 million songs which users can listen to for free. Purdham is hoping for user figures of two million in 2009.

Question: 

I had always planned to build my IT infrastructure business from its current £6 million turnover to £20 million or more before selling. However, having been at it for ten years, I’ve just been offered a little over nine times pre-tax earnings by a competitor with the cash in the bank to complete the deal. Should I take the money and start again? I’m almost 50 years old.

Answer: 

Looking for the future big win is obviously a highrisk strategy that you have to assess very carefully.

Many proprietors have a tendency to hold out for future value that very often doesn’t materialise and will miss out on the cumulative impact of multiple small wins.

If you have a real chance to take some money off the table now, consider it very seriously. If the amount is reasonable then you have an opportunity to separate yourself from the pressure. That relief will probably make the ability to start again more appealing and have a higher rate of success because you are not gambling everything.

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