The TRUTH About Equity & Selling a Painting Business


The older I get the more I believe the most offensive thing you can do is tell the TRUTH.

People will swallow a lie all day long, the bigger the lie the better, and merrily go about their way.

However, the truth, unlike a lie, is firmly rooted in reality – and when you speak about a deeply-known yet willfully ignored truth, it bites deep. It causes weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The truth, or so I have been told, is sharper than a double-edged sword.

So, how did I offend the snowflakes in painter-land most recently? Here’s the social media post…

Why would I write such a heartless, insensitive thing? Because it is true. Let me explain…

First, most painters struggle for decades, making ¼ of what they should, and walk away from their painting businesses at retirement without selling anything. Not one penny of equity for themselves or their family.

Second, the term “equity” is largely misunderstood. Equity is what your business is worth to potential buyers if said business was placed on the market for sale TODAY.

Third, a painting business has three major value centers for equity:

1) A multiple of direct-to-owner income

2) The perceived quality, effectiveness and ease-of-use of fundamental business systems for the prospective owner

3) The promise of future revenue from reliable, documented sources – primarily your in-house list of past clients, unconverted leads, B2B referral sources and commercial accounts

Are there other elements that can raise and lower a business’ value? Yes. However, these are the main ones. I’ve helped dozens of painters sell their businesses over the years, even within the past few weeks, plus I sold my own. For that reason, I can stand by my statements with absolute certainty.

Running a painting business with zero equity may still produce a decent or even a good income. But, in the end, if you cannot realize a profit from the sale of the business, it is simply a J-O-B.

There, I said it. Again. Let the weeping and swooning begin.

So, why is this so offensive? So “rude?” Because painters, upon reading it, know it’s true – but hate that it is. I mean, REALLY hate that it is.

Once a painter reads the post, he realizes something: “I need to be doing something differently, but I’m not.”

So, rather than take any action that might improve things, the painter must lash out in anger as a coping mechanism for a known business failure in a particular aspect of their professional career: ZERO Equity.

And equity, my friends, is perhaps the chief aim of starting any business in the first place.

So, at the risk of offending yet another crowd of painters, let me ask you this: Today, could you sell your painting business for roughly 3X your direct to owner’s income?

If the answer is “no,” it doesn’t make you a terrible person. It’s not an indictment of you as an individual.

However, it should produce in you a desire to take some action. Likely, a different course of action.

Maybe a long-ignored yet deeply understood course of action that may be challenging for a brief period in your painting career. I get it. Change sucks. I don’t like it any more than you do.

But, the hallmark of a true professional is this: He does his best work even when he doesn’t feel like it – and I don’t mean painting or daily “firefighting” in your business.

Rarely does any business owner wake up and say, “I’d like to admit I’ve been running certain aspects of my business incorrectly and take massive action to change it! And, I’ll gather the resources and counsel necessary to succeed!”

In fact, in any business niche, only a small minority of owners will take this approach. The rest will simply drown in a sea of mediocrity along with their other counterparts.

Here’s my second offensive question: Do you have a written plan – or any plan – for making 2024 different than 2023?

If you answered “no,” please consider doing two things…

#1 – For the Love of GOD and All Things Holy, Reply to This Email and Ask for a Diagnostic Call If You Are Not Already an APPC Member!

I understand, every crowd has that one person in it who would rather die in pain and anguish than go see a doctor. I get it. However, what’s more important than being a strong provider for your family? Not many things at all.

#2 – Before Registration Closes, Get Your Ticket to the Painting Profits Summit!

Is this self-serving on my part… yes! However, here’s what I know: When owners who are failing to reach their maximum potential get into a room of successful owners, they change their mindset, then they change their actions. Not all, but most.

I want you to be in this crowd in 2024! I want you to walk away saying, “I never even knew that level of financial success was possible in painting!”

Now, let me ask you to forgive me for the things I will say in the future… As a mentor, my job is to tell owners the truth, even if they do not want to hear it. Getting at the TRUTH is the essential first step to turning around any business or organization.

You cannot build excellence on lies.

As you continue to follow me, please ask one simple question: Is Brandon telling the truth?

Here’s my pledge: I’ll always tell you the truth, even when it’s not in my own personal interest.

But, it will always be in your interest.

Got any questions? Shoot me an email.


Brandon Lewis

Founder, The Academy for Professional Painting Contractors

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