Sixty-one percent of the CEOs who responded to our survey have more than half of their net worth wrapped up in their companies; 26 percent have more than three-quarters of their net worth tied to the business. So it's a little surprising that a minority of CEOs, 36 percent, have brought in an outside expert to value their companies, and fewer than half have a specific amount for which they would sell. Those who did have a magic number in mind had different ways of arriving at the figure.
"It is based solely on what I think it would be worth to give up the most exciting time of my life and walk away to do something else."
-- Michael Biggerstaff, Nxtbook Media
"It was arrived at based on risk, time to value, and financial lifestyle goals. In other words, my wife told me the number."
-- Joseph Hillesheim, AspireHR
"This is the amount of money that it would take for me to give up my baby."
-- Mark Zoske, SaltWorks
"It is a combination of future growth potential, goodwill, and what it would take for me to stop running this business."
-- Scott Mandell, Enjoy Life Foods
"In my case, this is the number when you feel that you have to take the business from the entrepreneurial level to a more corporate structure."
-- Vlad Sadovsky, Merchant Processing Services
"I want to build a building next to the Sears Tower that would block their view of the lake. My magic number would be a great start."
-- Chuck Tanner, Wholesale Interiors
"It was a goal I set several years ago. I know where the business is heading."
-- Bradley Grubaugh, Bradley Excavating
"Funds sufficient to allow me to retire -- assuming I actually wanted to -- plus enough to take care of key staff and family."
-- Miles Feinberg, Miles Consulting
"This would provide me the money I expect for starting this company, growing it, and managing it."