Business for Sale: An Audio-Book Publisher for $1.14 Million
BY Darren Dahl
THE MARKET Americans purchase more than $1 billion worth of audio books each year.
Three years ago, Bryan Heathman joined forces with his friend Chris Widener, a motivational speaker and the author of books such as The Art of Influence and The Angel Inside, to launch Made for Success. The Issaquah, Washington, company sells motivational and self-help CDs and DVDs featuring Widener and other seminar-circuit talents such as John Maxwell and Donald Trump. Through a series of licensing deals with members of the National Speakers Association, the company puts together boxed sets that feature combinations of material recorded by several speakers. The boxed sets are sold at Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and Borders, and Heathman outsources assembly and even some creative decisions to just-in-time suppliers. Made for Success's content is also available for download on Apple's iTunes and Audible.com, and at MadeforSuccess.net, the company's website. Though overall revenue was down nearly $100,000 last year, digital sales grew 54 percent. Heathman, who is writing a marketing book, has not hired a broker. He says that after investing roughly $100,000, he and Widener are looking for someone who can build upon the platform they have created.
The Asking Price:
$1.14 million, which includes a library of 500 CD and 100 DVD titles, 22 Internet domain names, two trademarks, and the transfer of licensing agreements with 137 motivational speakers and authors.
At roughly four times revenue and given the company's recent sales history, the asking price is high. But given the company's margins -- as high as 65 percent -- a buyer could expand with cash flow, says Richard Parker, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, business broker and author of How to Buy a Good Business at a Great Price.
The company has solid relationships with the talent and with retail-distribution partners. Outsourcing allows it to limit inventory costs. And self-help titles that teach skills such as networking and wealth building typically sell well in a bad economy.
Sales fell nearly $100,000 in 2008. Heathman says boxed sets on sales and leadership had become outdated, and Made for Success did not move quickly to refresh them, leading to the slump. This episode underscores the fact that, as a licensing company and an outsourcer, Made for Success is only as good as its partners.
The Bottom Line:
Despite healthy margins, a large library of content, and a burgeoning online business, sales have been stagnant. The ideal acquirer may be a strategic partner that owns related content or a distribution network, or both.
Inc. has no stake in the sale of the business featured. The magazine does not certify the accuracy of financial or other information provided by the seller. Inquiries should be directed to Bryan Heathman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-503-4051.
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DARREN DAHL is a contributing editor at Inc. Magazine, which he has written for since 2004. He also works as a collaborative writer and editor and has partnered with several high-profile authors. Dahl lives in Asheville, NC.