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Entrepreneur’s M&A Journal Episode 35—Interview With Aaron Walker


Aaron and Jim walk you through Aaron’s experiences of opening his first pawn shop at the age of 18 and selling out to a fortune 500 company a few years later at 27.  They talk about avoiding mistakes, taking your time and making good decisions.  Aaron’s charm and serenity come through and you know why he has bought and sold several companies successfully.


Main Questions Asked:

  • How did you get started in your business?
  • Were you thinking about an exit?
  • What drives the business?
  • How did you come to the realization that it was time to sell?
  • Are you telling me you went from offer to closing in 2 weeks?
  • Did they say “sell to us or we will come in against you?”
  • What do you tell entrepreneurs who want to buy or sell a company?


Key Points made: 

  • I had no intention of selling my business when I started it. (3:50)
  • It was a very difficult job in the beginning. (4:53)
  • The loans in a pawn shop is the necessary business. The selling is a necessity. (5:20)
  • I make up for my lack of education with grit and determination. (6:00)
  • I’ve got four stores and I’m 27 years old. (6:36)
  • Cash America is a company based out of Ft. Worth, Texas and they wanted to get into the Nashville market, they approached me to buy my stores. (7:00)
  • I told them I had no intentions of selling. (7:50)
  • These guys were sharp, they were a lot older than me and they knew how to do this process. (8:26)
  • I said, “I’ll take a 1.2 million” and they said, “we’ll take it.” Now, I don’t know whether to throw up or jump up and down. (9:01)
  • I probably left a lot of money on the table. (9:19)
  • I look back now and say, I wished I’d known Jim Cumbee. (10:17)
  • I kept the buildings and they became tenants. (10:47)
  • They were gentlemen, that company (Cash America) was first class. (11:38)
  • I tell those guys to go slow and think through it.  Stay with what you are familiar. (13:15)
  • I try to get knowledge from people I trust.  My trusted advisors.(13:53)
  • Most guys get in to big a hurry and they make quick decisions without doing their due diligence. (14:18)
  • The start-up is the difficult, once it is up going, they will pay multiple times earnings to get that ongoing business. (15:10)
  • I could have probably gotten 50% more if I had had a trusted advisor. Someone who knew the ropes.


Resources Mentioned

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Tennessee Valley Group

Jim Cumbee established Tennessee Valley Group to help business owners fulfill their dreams for life after business ownership. It’s a mission that his 30+ year career history had prepared him well for—in addition to being an attorney, transition mediator and business broker, Jim has been a buyer, seller, and entrepreneur. His broad range of experience gives him unique insight into how business buyers and sellers can achieve their goals.

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