oday's story has lessons about working in the business.

That's right: in, not on, the business.

We are often so focused on the goal of working on the business we forget the value of working in it.

Colin Gates bought a business that did a little less SDE than the typical self-funded search ideal of $800k or above.

MasterCraft Coatings, a 30-year-old commercial painting business, did more like $300k to $400k in SDE.

That meant that Colin was very involved in the business when he took over.

Not only that, Colin actually worked with a crew as one of the painters before he closed on the business.

These experiences were not bugs in the process, they were features.

"Bootcamp," Colin called them.

And today he's much better for having had them. In his words:

"To hold people accountable to let them succeed, I just had to see how the process worked up close and personal."

It's a good reminder of the value of being the operator yourself, at least for a while. Think of it as an investment — albeit of time, not capital — because it leads to you make better, more informed decisions, which in turn leads to higher enterprise value.

At least that appears to be how it's playing out for Colin.

Here he is, Colin Gates, owner of MasterCraft Coatings.