If you've ever had trouble committing to a personal relationship, imagine trying to commit to selling your company--or even just a piece of your company. It really is a lot like dating, with many of the same pitfalls and with lots of reasons to be cautious. Start with the early signs of interest--is the buyer serious or just flirting? Move to the wooing stage, where each side presents itself as nattily as possible, cautiously proffering hopes and dreams. Then it's on to due diligence--meeting the management team (or the parents), setting accountants on the books (or asking about those wacky uncles). And of course, it ends with a decision--a marriage or a deal on the one hand, a breakup on the other. To help you negotiate these rocky straits, we offer three perspectives on dealmaking. For a lesson on the value of playing hard to get, you can read how tiny GoLite sold out without selling out to Timberland (NYSE:TBL). For those of you tempted by the seductive appeal of private equity, we offer some very important rules. (For one thing, take it slow, but at least in business it's okay to return their phone calls the same day.) And then, for those of you who've been following Norm Brodsky's serial romance over the past five months, we bring news that may surprise you: Norm is one entrepreneur who really is ready to commit.

Published on: Mar 1, 2007