Horst seals business-to-business transactions

Filed under: One on One |

Barb Horst owns the Colorado Springs franchise of Sunbelt Business Advisors.

Years of managing millions of dollars in corporate America left Barb Horst looking for a new challenge.

Horst wanted to start or purchase her own business, and what she found helped her fulfill her ambitions, as well as helped other people who shared the same goal.

As owner of Sunbelt Business Advisors, Horst evaluates and brokers businesses for purchase or for sale.

She estimates that 99.9 percent of business owners have no idea how much their business is worth, which is a question she specializes in answering.

Horst took time recently to tell CSBJ about herself and her business.

Organization: Sunbelt Business Advisors

Position: Owner

Hometown: Stillwater, Minn.

How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: Since 1979

Education: Bachelor’s degree in finance; master’s degree in business administration/accounting from the University of Colorado.

A few words about your company: Sunbelt Business Advisors helps people buy and sell businesses. We offer business valuations, arrange financing, help access retirement money for business investment and sell new franchise territories. We charge no upfront fees. Sunbelt is more than 25 years old, has more than 350 locally owned offices worldwide and five offices in Colorado. We work in partnership to serve our customer’s needs. What’s new and exciting is our board of advisors program that’s kicking off in 2006. It’s designed to assist in maximizing the value of a small business. We will work with a company in an advisory role several years out from the sale of the business to put in place strategies that will drive the value of the business in line with the goals of the owner.

Recent accomplishments: After six years as a CFO for a $50 million company, it was time for a change. Business ventures have always been a part of my life, even while working within other small businesses and large corporations. I always wanted my own business. I researched many options and found Sunbelt to be an industry leader. I purchased the territory for southern Colorado and completed the coursework and requirements to become a business intermediary. This is a perfect fit for my background and entrepreneurial spirit. Now I help others realize their goals and dreams of owning their own businesses or getting the most out of their existing businesses.

Biggest career break: A commercial banking customer of mine asked me to be the CFO for a $3 million company. We built it into a $10 million company in three years and sold it for top dollar. That was really fun, and an invaluable experience.

The toughest part of your job: Managing expectations. What a business owner wants the business to sell for and what the market will bear are sometimes not in alignment. This is why we use advanced business valuation tools in addition to partnering with one of the largest certified, independent, third-party valuation companies in the country. We help business owners get the most value for their business, rather than simply telling them what they may want to hear, which saves both time and energy. This leads to less time on the market and a more efficient process.

Someone you admire: Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela.

About your family: I’ve been married for six years, and I have two brothers, a sister, five nieces and nephews. Almost all of my family lives in Colorado.

Something else you’d like to accomplish: Eventually, I’d like to be involved with organizations that focus on “well care” and finding a solution to allow some level of universal health insurance. After 10 years in health care, it’s clear that we have a very broken system.

How your business will change in the next decade: Technology will enhance the services we provide. One of our partnered franchisors has installed a live Web cam behind the counter in a flagship store so that potential franchisees can experience a day in the life of the business. We’ll see more advances along those lines. Also, the bar will be raised for brokers. The barrier to entry into this industry has been fairly low and that, in some cases, affected our industry reputation. The standards are increasing, and we will see more educated and experienced professionals entering this industry, continuing to raise the bar.

What book are you currently reading? “The New World History” by J.B. Collins.

What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? We need to keep our focus on the retention, attraction and development of employers with high-paying jobs so we can continue to grow our economy.