It was the biggest risk of my life but one I haven’t regretted or looked back on since: when I purchased MyCorporation from Intuit.
When I was an employee at Intuit, it was a great experience – running a division of a publicly traded company with amazing resources available and highly intelligent experts each working in their area of expertise. I loved the camaraderie and the expertise that each person had. However, it soon became obvious to me that it was difficult to make a small division succeed under a large corporation. Small changes were difficult to execute and remaining nimble in a large corporate environment was very difficult.
It was late 2008 and the economy was faltering and all businesses were seeing a drop-off. With that, Intuit was making changes. I saw a few divisions of Intuit close down and there were major layoffs. We had extensive discussions regarding the next steps for the MyCorporation division. After long talks with my husband and our bankers, we decided that it would be viable to offer to purchase the division. I spoke with my boss and proposed the idea, semi-informally. He said that might be a viable option, but he wanted me to present all options relative to the business.
I put together a presentation trying to be as unbiased as I could be, knowing more and more that I think the business would thrive outside of Intuit – potentially even in partnership with Intuit. After a couple of months, I heard back and it turned out they were very much considering selling the business to me, knowing that I believed in the business, the customers and the employees. Intuit is wonderfully pro-customer, pro-employee and the company as a whole is known for doing right. As such, they wanted me to work hard at demonstrating that the employees would remain in a good position, that I would retain the current benefits, that we would hire the employees who were then employed by Intuit and that we would transition the customers seamlessly. This was the biggest risk in my life, but I found myself being convinced by it as I put together the documentation to demonstrate to the leaders at Intuit (and my bankers) that I could make this happen.
About one month later, I received the call – they were going to sell it to me and now the legal part was to begin. We’d have to go through the divestiture very much like when the business was acquired by Intuit from a law school classmate of mine back in 2004. It was a process with which I was very familiar. It was smoother this time. We all knew each other, we had great attitudes about the process and we wanted it to go smoothly. As with anything involving legal documentation, it took a long time, but in July, 2009, Intuit announced my purchase of the business publicly and off we went.
Then the excitement really began!
We had to separate our systems, find a new location, notify the team and offer them positions (all of them accepted). Then we had to get ready to move and ultimately move while we continued to offer our customers unparalleled customer service. We couldn’t drop the ball on anything – after all, now it was my business!
The rest is history. We’ve never been happier. Intuit was great, but the flexibility and nimble nature of an entrepreneurial venture is truly wonderful. We come up with ideas, we iterate, we develop and we launch. If it works, awesome. If it doesn’t, no biggie. We have ideas, we test and we learn. We talk with customers, we get their feedback and then we come up with more ideas. It’s a great cycle and one that has proven to be very successful for us.
I’m all for taking risks. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. When I went to law school, I would never have seen myself as a business owner, but I’ve always been about ‘going for it.’ My mom taught me to believe in myself, to go for it and to trust. I do that every day. The purchase of MyCorporation from Intuit was a big risk, requiring a lot of trust – in my team, in the Intuit team, and especially in myself. BUT we did it! We believed we would and we made it happen. I’m grateful every day for my family’s support and engendering a risk-taking confidence in me.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation, an online filing services company that specializes in incorporations and LLCs. Find her online at mycorporation.com and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.