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Finding Your New Owner – Look Inside for Business Succession

 

By Beth Davis, principal of Learnings for Leaders, and an STPI-certified Transition Planning Consultant

image - business successionShockingly, only one in four business owners looking to sell their companies actually do so. Looking inside your business for your ideal new owner will dramatically increase your odds of selling. Why?

• You are already in a trusting relationship with your key managers.
• The location of your business is less likely to change for both employees and customers.
• Staff are more assured of continued employment.
• Customers most likely already know your key folks.


“Inside” obstacles to overcome

It’s important that you not assume:
• Key employees want to run the business without you.
• Key employees can run the business without you.
• This transition can happen quickly and without planning.
• Other employees will embrace the change.


Get yourself prepared

Start reflectively. Think about the business and what’s important to you. I encourage you to write this out, or talk about it with a coach who can reflect it back to you. The act of writing or having a committed listener provides greater clarity.

List your accomplishments. Your accomplishments will most likely reflect what you’re most proud of in your business. Is it employing people from your community, maintaining a family-oriented culture, supporting the local sports teams, your proprietary products and systems or a multi-generational history? Your accomplishments generate your legacy.

Your legacy is reflected in what you want to last beyond your stewardship of the business. What are the ways in which you would like to be remembered? What elements of your vision, cultural environment and growth trajectory cement a lasting contribution to what’s next for your organization?

Think hypothetically about your ideal new owner. What are the qualities they should possess in this role? How would they engage others? What skills do they need to build new ways for your company to be successful? When you base your thoughts on qualities and not a person you have in mind, you will more objectively define what’s important in the role. Then match the person to the right qualities.

What does it take to be an owner?

The transition from manager to executive to CEO can be painful. The skills that served someone well in one role, that became embodied, may not serve him or her well in the new role. Being a learner again can make a competent person feel untethered and incompetent until the skills of the new role become practiced and transparent. You can support the potential inside buyer by helping them attain the new qualities and skills required at the top of an organization. Impart to them:

1. CEO THINKING – Become less operational, more strategic. Looking out more across broad horizons of time, making connections to trends.

2. TEAMBUILDING – Understand that when delegating to a higher-level, those people need more important activities and autonomy to exercise their judgment to implement. Coaching and agreements become more important than supervision for accountability.

3. COMMUNICATION – Galvanize others, which is more about communication and “selling” or influencing than “telling”.

4. IMPLEMENTATION – Gather and synthesize information, but not to the point of “analysis paralysis.”  Be decisive, know the plan and know everyone’s role in it.

5. RESULTS ORIENTATION – Define success, set clear criteria and don’t forget to express satisfaction for a job well done. Seek continual improvement.

6. SELF-AWARENESS – Cultivate the “self” that you are. Know how you show up in the world. Minimize automatic reactions that negatively affect trustworthiness.


Transitions are a process, not an event

Even if you have identified a key manager who “fits the bill”, he or she may not yet be ready to step into your role. Creating a multi-year transition plan will allow you to develop sequential steps for the transition of roles and responsibilities.  This will also provide the time to build more trust, competence and consistency between you and your successor, as well as with the other employees.

As you move through the transition, meet frequently and openly with your successor. Be willing to share with each other three simple questions vital to good feedback: What should we keep doing? What should we stop doing? What should we start doing? Open, on-going assessments in both directions will keep the process clean.

Lastly, consider your own potential pitfalls: Are you willing to let go? Are you willing to let someone else do it differently? Have you set clear standards? Can you be satisfied?

How you transition your business to it’s next generation, of both growth and new leadership, will define your legacy. It’s worth taking your time.

If you are a business owner considering succession (or you know an owner who should be thinking about it), click the link below to download our free guide "What's Next for Your Future" to help you think more broadly:

What's Next for Your Future?


Beth Davis is a member of Innovative Equity Strategies and principal of Learnings for Leaders. She works with individuals and groups to help them enhance their effectiveness in the areas of leadership, professional growth, business success and transition, personal mastery and life design.  As a certified Transition-Planning Consultant, Beth guides businesspeople through the “head-and-heart” issues of personal and business transition. Using the methodology of the Successful Transition Planning Institute, she helps owners identify and define their “what’s next” though a series of tools and programs. She can be reached at 617-504-8499 or Beth@LearningsForLeaders.com

The Successful Transition Planning Institute of Cambridge, MA teaches Baby Boomers and their advisors how to avoid boring, meaningless retirements.  STPI's books, tools, training and seminars empower Baby Boomers to "Think", "Live" and "Decide" what to do with their companies and careers.  By doing so,  Baby Boomers create plans for dynamic new lives, full of meaning and purpose. (see video).

Pass the turkey (where's my bleeping check) | Business Succession

 

My annual homage to Thanksgiving and the foibles of business succession in families, first published in 2011.

image ThanksgivingYou might be wondering what Thanksgiving has to do with Exit Planning, but let me explain further.  I was at a local Exit Planning breakfast, and an advisor was sharing a story about a client whom he was advising on the sale of his business.  The client had a family member in the business, and wanted him to take over the business, so the business would carry on, and so the owner could cut back his hours (and eventually retire). The advisors spent months working through the technical, legal and tax issues, the buyer (the family member) was cooperating; the seller was motivated, a deal looked to be in hand.  Sounds good, right?  Not so fast.

The advisor asked the owner if there was anyone else to consult with prior to scheduling a closing.  The owner said his wife.  So the advisor set a follow up meeting with the owner and his wife.  The advisor explained the terms of the deal (requiring an earn-out).  The wife was listening intently.  She looked upset.  The advisor asked if something was the matter, the wife promptly said:  “let me get this straight, we are going to sell our business to (the buyer)?”  “Yes”, the husband said.  The wife said “how can you do this?  You know I can’t stand (the buyer’s) wife?”  Every Thanksgiving, I am going to saying, “please pass the gravy, but thinking ‘Where’s my (bleeping) check?’ – forget it, the deal is off.”

Needless to say, the owner and the advisor were aghast.  Months of time, thousands of dollars in fees all to end up with a soon to be VERY unhappy buyer, a husband with a VERY upset wife, and no ready alternatives – OUCH.

The advisor learned that exit planning was a delicate and complicated matter, and that emotions often overrule the practical deal elements.  That the basis of successfully transferring any family business must deal with the emotional needs of the owner AND his/her spouse on an equal basis with the financial, legal and technical issues.

Happy Thanksgiving – no check required…

Avoid retirement remorse! Get the FREE essential guide:  What's Next for Your Future?

What\u0026#39\u003Bs Next for Your Future?

About the author: 
paul cronin picPaul Cronin is partner and Director of Business Development at STPI, the Successful Transition Planning Institute of Cambridge, MA. Paul can be reached at 978-749-9546, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google+, or by clicking "contact us"

The Successful Transition Planning Institute of Cambridge, MA teaches Baby Boomers and their advisors how to avoid boring, meaningless retirements.  STPI's books, tools, training and seminars empower Baby Boomers to "Think", "Live" and "Decide" what to do with their companies and careers.  By doing so,  Baby Boomers create plans for dynamic new lives, full of meaning and purpose. (see video).

Where will you be five years from today? | Baby Boomers

 

This edition of our blog is by guest blogger, Beth Davis, principal of Learnings for Leaders.

image - time"Where will you be five years from today?"

That’s the question asked by Compendium in their little inspirational book Five. It reminds me of the ubiquitous answer to the transition question in the CEO peer groups I ran for nearly fifteen years. Regardless of age, years in business, or any other pertinent demographic if a CEO was asked when he or she might want to sell their business, the answer was almost always, “in five years”.

What do you make of that?  In my speculation, it means that the question is relevant and close but the answer far enough away that the owner doesn’t have to do anything about it just now – a decision that can be delayed. The problem is that the five-year window keeps slipping and the planning doesn’t happen.

Deciding what’s next – start with what you value

A good place to start is with your values. What’s important to you? Be honest with yourself – it’s too easy to create the “God, family, country” list. Where do you spend your time and your money? That’s a good indicator of what’s important to you. When I looked at it that way, I saw that I spend a lot of time and money on training, books, exercise and home goods – so some of the things that are important to me are education, life-long learning, health & fitness and good design (I won’t get into “the hair expense” – something most women of a certain age know a lot about).

What did you discover? Did that exercise make you wince? If so, you might want to start down a path of self-examination and redefinition. In re-examining your values, start with the traits or qualities that describe the people you admire, the places you love, the programs you support – from this list you can choose your top five lifetime values. Write them down and keep them near so you can frequently reflect on them. How are you living those values? On a scale of 1 to 5, how consistently do you live what you value? What would you like to change? How would you like to be different in this? Identifying your top five values and answering these questions is a short-cut to naming the top goals for your “what’s next”.

Create a personal mission statement

I love this quote, “Your life is worth a noble motive”.  Most leaders I know are good at making things happen, not just letting things happen. And yet, in this arena of business transition, I often see “the deer in the headlights” look.

Once you’ve clarified your values, consider creating a mission statement for your life. Just as your business has a mission or purpose, so can your life. When you dedicate your life to something greater than yourself life is a bigger adventure, something you can organize around. Ask yourself, what services or activities do my values call me toward? What is my legacy? What is the contribution I want to make? Can you start to sense a direction here?

Satisfaction and the wheel of life

Once you’ve defined what’s important to you and gotten clear on what your life is all about, you can take a look at each spoke on the Wheel of Life and measure your level of satisfaction in each domain.  Many business owners speak to me about the lack of balance in their lives. Here’s the place where you can gauge what you’re attending to (or not) and what your goals and options are in each “spoke”.

When I coach owners through the Successful Transition Planning Institute’s LIVE™ program, I help you decide how you want to live your life going forward.

We look at ten “spokes” –

  1. Creativity

  2. Family

  3. Income Producing Work

  4. Intellectual Stimulation

  5. Partner/Spouse

  6. Physical Health

  7. Recreation

  8. Spirituality

  9. Social Connections

10. Volunteer Work

We look at six options for each spoke of the wheel and then further, within each option we look at both the upside and downside, so that both your thinking and your life is balanced. From this investigation, you can create a life plan.

Define your own success

In the end, you need to define success in your own terms. I think Viktor Frankl said it best, “success is the side-effect of your personal dedication to a course greater than yourself”. Enough said.

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If you are a business owner, who is wondering "what's next? for you business and your life, you may want to look at the What's Next? Self Assessment™ (click here).

 

About the author:

Beth Davis, as a member of Innovative Equity Strategies and principal of Learnings for Leaders, works with individuals and groups to help them enhance their effectiveness in the areas of leadership, professional growth, business success and transition, personal mastery and life design. As a certified transition-planning consultant, Beth guides businesspeople through the “head and heart” issues of personal and business transition. Using the methodology of the Successful Transition Planning Institute, she helps owners identify and define their “what’s next” though a series of tools and programs. She can be reached at 617-504-8499 or beth@learningsforleaders.com.

 

The Successful Transition Planning Institute of Cambridge, MA teaches Baby Boomers and their advisors how to avoid boring, meaningless retirements.  STPI's books, tools, training and seminars empower Baby Boomers to "Think", "Live" and "Decide" what to do with their companies and careers.  By doing so,  Baby Boomers create plans for dynamic new lives, full of meaning and purpose. (see video).

90% of business owners will fail in selling a business

 

imageExitStrategyHandbookAbout 24,000 businesses sell each year in the US according to B2BCFO in their new book, “The Exit Strategy Handbook”.

About 378,000 businesses owners turn age 65 each year (this trend will continue for the next 15 years).  These are the Baby Boomers.

Many of these owners will be considering retirement and/or a sale.  (Only 40% of businesses transfer to family members).

This is the oft-mentioned "tsunami" of business owners seeking a way out.

If 40% of these owners transfer their business internally, 225,000 will be seeking a way out.

The odds of these owners for a successful sale of their business is about 10% (ten percent).

In other words, 90% of these business owners seeking a way out WILL FAIL to sell their businesses.  Most will simply wind down and close.

Lesson:  Business owners need to prepare themselves and their businesses for this tsunami, or face personal and financial ruin.

For those who recognize that they cannot sell or transfer their business, they still need a plan for their lives.  For many such owners, their business is their connection to friends, vendors, customers and employees.  If they lose the business, they lose their connection to life.  Yet hanging onto the business has its own risks.  Ths biggest?  That the owner will not pursue long-sought dreams - in other words they will fail to understand and experience their life's true purpose.  Time has become their enemy.

If you are a long-time business owner, or know one, you might gain some insight by taking a 20 minute questionaire:  The What's Next? Self Assessment.  It will give you hope that you can beat the odds by conducting good transition planning - if you take the time.  Click below to learn more.


The Successful Transition Planning Institute of Cambridge, MA teaches Baby Boomers and their advisors how to avoid boring, meaningless retirements.  STPI's books, tools, training and seminars empower Baby Boomers to "Think", "Live" and "Decide" what to do with their companies and careers.  By doing so,  Baby Boomers create plans for dynamic new lives, full of meaning and purpose. (see video).

Getting Your House in Order | Selling a Business

 

Today's guest post is by Deborah Millin, founder of Upper Level Solutions in Massachusetts.

image get organized Getting Your House in Order - Preparing the operations of your business to maximize your profit in a sale.

Regardless of what ‘operations’ means in your company, there are things you can do to get your operational house in order before you bring in a formal transaction team that will maximize the value of your company and get you the highest possible price in a sale.


There are some operational documents that every M&A professional will require.  If you have most of that completed when they walk in your door, it will save you money and time during the critical due diligence phase, and it puts forth a great first impression as a company that is organized and efficient.  There are also issues that arise during due diligence that require immediate attention and can be quite time consuming – the more you can do in advance, the more time your team will have to address those urgent items as they arise.

As a general rule, you should leave yourself 6 months to review your major processes and either update existing documentation or create documentation where none exists.  Regardless of your company’s size, you can create simple and straightforward documentation for each of these items – never create 10 pages when 1 page will do the job.


HR documentation - Would an outside person be able to look at your organizational chart and clearly understand the reporting structure and see where every employee fits in the company?  If not, it’s time to update. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about some changes in the structure that would be more efficient or put more focus in a growing area – make those changes now, and create an organizational chart that is concise and understandable.  

Many smaller companies don’t have a formal job description for all positions or have annual reviews documented for each employee.  These become critical in a sale process for the buyer to understand the roles and the skills of your employees.  Make sure you have updated documentation on any bonus and merit increase structures, stock option or equity agreements, and change in control or other incentive agreements.  This is also the time to update or create a basic employee handbook and benefit summary page so the buyer can understand not only the facts on what benefits are offered, but also get a glimpse into your culture and values.

Clients and Vendors - A buyer will want to see basic information about your clients and vendors.  If you don’t already have this information at your fingertips, use this time to compile the information. Contact information, annual amount of revenue (client) or spend (vendor), your internal account manager, current projects and current issues/hot buttons should be easily available for review during this process.

If you have a system that can generate these types of reports on an ad-hoc basis, then you can easily run a report to get the latest information as it is needed throughout the process. It is critical that you insure your employees are keeping this information up to date in your system. If you do not have a system, however, you should compile the information in a simple spreadsheet report – and again be sure it is kept up to date at least monthly.

Operational Processes - The added benefit of this exercise is that by looking across your organization, you will inevitably find efficiencies that can be implemented for immediate benefit to your team and your bottom line.  Look at how you sell to clients and onboard them once they sign a contract, how you invoice and how you manage client accounts on an ongoing basis.  Review your procedures for troubleshooting, escalations and internal approval levels – how you manage projects for client initiatives and for internal software and hardware upgrades.  

Are all of these things documented?  Do they make sense both on their own and as part of a natural flow from one process to the next?  Having your processes documented allows for more consistency, easier training for new employees, and serves as a base for your team to continually develop and improve as they incorporate lessons learned.

Operational Metrics - What key performance indicators (KPIs) are you looking at as a management team to measure the success of your business?  Revenue and expenses are basic, but what are your operational goals and how are you making sure you meet them?  If you look at certain metrics every week/month/quarter, compile them in a consolidated report.  Make the metrics and trends easy to digest with graphs or a dashboard (green/yellow/red) approach.  This makes it easy for your management team, and ultimately your buyer, to see where things stand – and shows your buyer and transaction team that you have a solid understanding of your business.

Legal Clean Up - This is also the time to do an assessment of your contracts with clients, vendors and contractors.  Be sure all agreements are up to date, and if any have lapsed get them cleaned up.  In addition, review any intellectual property (IP) within the company, update filings for patents, trademarks, etc. to be sure you are protecting your interests and avoiding any liabilities that could cause issues during due diligence.

It is good practice to have all of these items up to date as a normal course of business, but it is increasingly critical as you prepare for a sale.  Keep in mind that your team still has to do their ‘day job’ so when building schedules to update your documentation, be cautious not to overburden your team.  Bringing in an outside consultant can not only take some of the effort off your full-time staff, but can also give you a fresh perspective and apply best practices from other companies and industries that could greatly benefit your operations.  

By planning these efforts out, you will put your company and your employees in the best position possible by increasing the overall value of your company and ultimately maximizing your price when selling a business.

About the Author:  With 20 years of operational, project management, and client relationship experience in a variety of industries, Deborah Millin founded UpperLevel Solutions to provide a cost-effective alternative for growing companies in need of COO-level support.  (learn more).

If you are a long-time business owner, or know one, you might gain some insight by taking a 20 minute questionaire:  The What's Next? Self Assessment.  It will give you hope that you can conduct good transition planning - if you take the time.  Click below to learn more.

 

 

The Successful Transition Planning Institute of Cambridge, MA teaches Baby Boomers and their advisors how to avoid boring, meaningless retirements.  STPI's books, tools, training and seminars empower Baby Boomers to "Think", "Live" and "Decide" what to do with their companies and careers.  By doing so,  Baby Boomers create plans for dynamic new lives, full of meaning and purpose. (see video).

The Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Selling A Business

 

image family businessI read an insightful article by Dennis White, partner - Verrill Dana, LLP "The Top 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Selling A Family Firm"

Here is a summary:

Families can often take generations to grow and build up the value of a successful business, only to get tripped up when it comes time to sell it.

Dennis White addresses the top ten mistakes families make when it comes time to sell:

  1. Failure to integrate estate and business planning
  2. Failure to line up the family members
  3. Failure to assemble an experienced team
  4. Failure to prepare for due diligence
  5. Failure to properly structure the deal
  6. Ignoring the “money provisions” apart from the stated purchase price
  7. Ignoring seller representations and warranties
  8. Failure to prepare for post-closing disputes
  9. Allowing a viable buyer to walk away
  10. Failure to anticipate second thoughts

Due diligence is usually focused on the money issues.  At STPI, we find that there is often a neglected part of that process:  the emotional due diligence of the seller - particularly if he/she is also the founder.  For many of these people, the business is their baby or their lifeline.   Leaving can feel like abandonment, or equivalent to dying.  To better prepare the seller, and therefore protect the family wealth, families can encourage the founder to talk to a professional about building a new vision for their life - a life beyond the business. 

First, an owner must look at their identity OUTSIDE of the business.  Next, the owner must look at transitions he/she has gone through in the past and the lessons learned from them.  Applying these lessons while envisioning a new future will give the founder the courage to see a better life than he/she has today.

For the full article of the ten most common mistakes and a discussion of how to avoid them, please click here.  You may contact Dennis White dwhite@verrilldana.com.  The full article first appeared in "Family Business".

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If you are a business owner (or know one), we have a What's Next? Self Assessment that can help you answer some important questions about your business, and your life.  To learn more, click this button:

 

 

Author’s Note:  Dennis J. White is a corporate partner in the Boston office of Verrill Dana, LLP, where his practice focus includes mergers and acquisitions.  He is a contributing author and a member of the Editorial Committee of the ABA’s recently published Model Stock Purchase Agreement With Commentary, Second Edition.  He is also the former chairman of the global board of directors of the Association for Corporate Growth (dwhite@verrilldana.com).

The Successful Transition Planning Institute of Cambridge, MA teaches Baby Boomers and their advisors how to avoid boring, meaningless retirements.  STPI's books, tools, training and seminars empower Baby Boomers to "Think", "Live" and "Decide" what to do with their companies and careers.  By doing so,  Baby Boomers create plans for dynamic new lives, full of meaning and purpose. (see video).

11 Things You Absolutely Need To Know About Selling Your Business

 

11 Things You Absolutely Need To Know About Selling Your Business, by John F. Dini, CMBA, CBI- a book review by Paul Cronin

image selling a businessAs I often say to business owners:  each of you will leave your business someday.  You only have two choices:  plan for it on your terms, or let others plan it for you… (that is not really a joke either).

There are hundreds of things you should know about before you sell your business.  But you probably will never find the time for that.  As a busy business owner, you are usually focused on the “problem du jour” and don’t have the time or money to learn everything about selling/transferring your business.  But there is no excuse for not reading the excellent, 120 page book, “11 Things You Absolutely Need To Know About Selling Your Business, by John F Dini, CMBA, CBI”.

In my opinion, if you fail to learn these eleven things, you are guilty of entrepreneurial mal-practice. John Dini does an admirable job of showing you how to avoid that fate.  Concise and well written in a language any business owner will understand, “11 Things” works through the key issues you need to learn before you hire your first advisor to guide you.  By the way, you will have to hire someone to guide you; doing it all by yourself is a fast way to lose a lot time, money and business value. (See the first paragraph and read it out loud).

Also, there is one glaring misrepresentation in the title:  there aren’t 11 things, there are really 12 things you absolutely need to know – Dini has a sense of humor too.  Here are the 12 things you need to know:

1. Understand the process of a business sale

2. What will you do tomorrow?

3. Value and pricing

4. Buyers

5. Presentation is (almost) everything

6. Taxation drivers

7. Financing

8. Seller Notes

9. Business Brokers

10. Doing the deal

11. The roles of professionals

12. The other thing:  Patience

I will expound on four:

Process is not an Event (Chapter 3) - You must understand that selling a business is like building your business in that it is a PROCESS, not an EVENT.  Too many owners (and some advisors) misunderstand that.  It will take months, and in many cases years, to properly prepare your business for a SUCCESSFUL sale (or transfer) to new owners/managers.  It includes valuation, pricing, a sales strategy, preparing business information package, advertising, prospecting, negotiating, financing, due diligence, and closing.  If this list seems daunting it should – it is best done with a lot of education and hopefully with a good set of professionals to guide you.

Your Personal Future (Chapter 4) – when Dini asks, “What will you do tomorrow?”, he means after you leave your business.  If you think you are going on a permanent vacation, you are mistaken.  You can go on more vacations than you do today (maybe), but after 6 months, you will recognize that every day may seem like Sunday.  That will make real Sundays a lot less meaningful.  In my business, the Successful Transition Planning Institute, we call this initial period “the owner’s honeymoon”.   All honeymoons end; yours will too.  You can choose to do little or no planning, and risk enter a long period of decline into PTSD (Post Transaction Stress Disorder), or you can take the time now, before you leave your business to make written plans for your personal future.   For more on that check out the book “Finding Your New Owner:  For Your business, For Your Life, by Jack Beauregard, or our website.

Know Your Potential Buyers (Chapter 6) – As a business owner, you have customers/clients.  You also have a process of indentifying likely prospects, based on your experience of selling to them.  But you haven’t sold your business before (at least most of you), so how can you know who is a good prospect to buy your business?   Dini details six types of buyers:  Internal, Entrepreneurs, Professional Investors, Industry buyers, Strategic Buyers and Fantasy Buyers.  The most dangerous kind is fantasy buyers.  (They are not like Fantasy football players who are based on real players).  These are what many small sellers hope for, but don’t really exist for their sized businesses:  hobbyists, foreign nationals, and giant companies seeking new ideas.

Maintaining Patience:  (Chapter 14) – The process of selling your business will likely be arduous.  You will be asked questions that you don’t want to answer.  You will spend a lot of time away from your regular activities.  You will spend a lot of time with prospects, many of whom will never make a serious offer.  But there is no choice about being patient, if you want to successfully transfer your business and move on with your life.

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If you are a business owner, we have a What's Next? Self Assessment that can help you answer some important questions about your business, and your life.  To learn more, click this button:

 

The Successful Transition Planning Institute of Cambridge, MA teaches Baby Boomers and their advisors how to avoid boring, meaningless retirements.  STPI's books, tools, training and seminars empower Baby Boomers to "Think", "Live" and "Decide" what to do with their companies and careers.  By doing so,  Baby Boomers create plans for dynamic new lives, full of meaning and purpose. (see video).

Are you too old to leave your business? | Succession Planning

 

photo business succession I posted something on a Linkedin group recently, and one person commented that she had been trying to get her 80 year old mother to retire from the business "for years", but that she gave up.  Her mother went to work each day and was happy.  Part of me loves that story and part of me hates it.  It's a bit like saying, " I'm too old to change, I'll just do the same things day after day".  Who wants that?

I get that people want to feel useful and needed; it's human nature.  But dying at your desk is really not being truthful.  The reality is that we don't die at our desks; instead we die in a hospital, or a nursing home, or a hospice, or even an ambulance.  We are brought into this world by the medical-industrial complex and we will leave the same way.

So what do you say to someone who feels that dying at their desk is a real option?  I suggest asking them this: "is dying at your desk the BEST you can do with the REST of your life?"  It's a tough one, but also the truth.  For me, I want to work as part of the many activities that give my life a sense of purpose.  I expect paid work, volunteer work, faith, family, education and fun to be equal parts of my life in my 60s, 70s and beyond.

Every business owner must face this truth:  you WILL leave your business someday; you have two choices:  you can plan for it on your terms, or let someone else plan it for you.  Which choice give you more peace of mind?

If you are a son or daughter of a business owner (and not working there), how can you be sure that your parent's business will not destroy the family assets when he/she dies or becomes disabled?  It's tough enough to bury your dad (I have already), but to be consumed with closing down the business, while telling cutomers, employees and vendors that "mom isn't here anymore, so sorry you won't get you order, or your paycheck, or get paid for that invoice",  would be even more stressful.  Is that the legacy your dad dreams of today, turning the tragedy of his death, into your living nightmare?  I doubt it.

If you are a business owner, maybe you can stop now and ask yourself, "What happens to my business tomorrow, if I die today?"  Walk through each stakeholder of your business:  vendors, landlord, employees, accounts receivable, inventory, CPA, lawyer, etc., etc. and ask yourself, "what do I owe them?", or "what do they need from me to wrap up my affairs?".

If you are selling a business, these are good questions for you as well.  Hopefully, you will have many years to enjoy after you sell.  If you get some help from a business consultant who has helped others plan for the transfer or wind-down of a few businesses, you will save yourself a lot of time and aggravation.

Of course, maybe what your mom is fearing is a boring, meaningless retirement.  In the old days, that was to be expected for retirement, but not today.  We have so many options for activities and there is such a need to share wisdom wtih young people (in school and in business).  Surely a successful business owner can migrate to a role of mentoring others in the many challenges of life.

So what do you think a son or daughter can say to their parent who refuses to discuss leaving the business?

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If you are a business owner, we have a What's Next? Self Assessment that can help you answer some important questions about your business, and your life.  To learn more, click this button:

The Successful Transition Planning Institute of Cambridge, MA teaches Baby Boomers and their advisors how to avoid boring, meaningless retirements.  STPI's books, tools, training and seminars empower Baby Boomers to "Think", "Live" and "Decide" what to do with their companies and careers.  By doing so,  Baby Boomers create plans for dynamic new lives, full of meaning and purpose. (see video).

Time: do you have too much or too little? | Baby Boomers

 

pic clock In my life, I have often felt that time went too slow.   As I get older, I see that it really goes too fast.  In the book "The Time Keeper" by Mitch Albom, we are told a story of the real Father Time, and how he returns to earth to show two very different people the value of time, in reality, the value of life.

Dor is Father Time, punished by God for choosing to measure time, instead of merely experiencing life, by banishment to a cave to live for millenia. Dor is only released when he sees that measuring time (it goes too fast, or too slow) is foolish, and is given the chance to help two people who need his message before they make life-changing decisions.

It's a bit like the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life", so you know how it will go, but "The Time Keeper" is well-written and fast, @ 200 pages, like all Mitch Albom books.  For we so often too-busy Baby Boomers, it's just right.

The two main characters are Victor, a very successful businessman with a terminal illness, who doesn't want to die - at all, and goes to exraordinary lengths to find a way to stay "alive" forever.  The other is a teenage girl, Sarah, who is all worked up over a boy, who is in reality "just not that into her".

Dor finds a way to put the two of them together in a mystical story, that has a happy ending.  Victor realizes that his passing is part of his life, and he owes it to his wife to give her all his time left, not just his money.  He learns that the process of dying is an important part of life.  That this time is a gift, as valuable as any other part of his life.

Sarah is in such a hurry to experience life, that she brushes over the obvious flaws in her plans.  When they go awry, she becomes suicidal.  She barely rescues herself before she dies.  Her rescue gives her the strength to go on to live a good life.

In both cases, the characters took a "one choice" approach to their problem.  They failed to develop a series of options, to weigh the positives and negatives, and make a balanced decision.  In each case, their decision might have caused tremendous pain and suffering on the part of those people they loved most.

All of this made me think of boomers I know, who have made "one choice" decisions, and regretted it.  Or simply prolonged the inevitable, and saw a damaged business or family as a result.  It's so uneccessary.  Taking the "time" to think about your future, create options, and then talk to family and advisors, is always well worth it.  That time will give you the ability to make better choices.  Much like the message in the book.

If you are a long-time business owner, or know one, you might gain some insight by taking a 20 minute questionaire:  The What's Next? Self Assessment.  It will give you hope that you can conduct good transition planning - if you take the time.  Click below to learn more.

The Successful Transition Planning Institute of Cambridge, MA teaches Baby Boomers and their advisors how to avoid boring, meaningless retirements.  STPI's books, tools, training and seminars empower Baby Boomers to "Think", "Live" and "Decide" what to do with their companies and careers.  By doing so,  Baby Boomers create plans for dynamic new lives, full of meaning and purpose. (see video).

Why you "love" your business | succession planning

 

business owner photoWhy you "love" your business

by Jack Beauregard, author, founder, CEO of STPI

Wayne Vanwyck asked in response to a previous blog “what do you suggest to business owners who still love the work they do?", to help them understand that they must do transition planning.

Love is a general word for a vague feeling.  In order to make the statement that "I love what I am doing" more concrete, the question that needs to be asked is, "what the owner is attached to?".  Webster’s Dictionary reinforces why this question is important, since its primary definition of love is “a strong affection for or attachment to…” We love what we are attached to. The unspoken fact is that for many owners, they love their business more than they love their spouses (If this sounds familiar, you might want to reconsider, since 66 percent of Gray Divorces are initiated by baby boomer women).

Very often, when owners say that they “love what they are doing”, what they really are saying is that I am emotionally attached to my company since it is my “baby,”.  I conceived the company, nurtured it and have spent decades of my life growing the business.  Also, many owners have a strong attachment to living their lives around 'checking things off' their to-do lists.  They are psychologically attached to what they are doing, since they derive their sense of importance from always being busy and feeling that people, or the business, cannot survive if they leave.  They are attached to welding power and being "in the know.”

If you are a business owner, does this sound familiar?

A large number of owners are mentally attached to an absolute way of thinking, also referred to as either/or thinking.  Absolute thinking is the thought process that imprisons them in their companies, the cause of failed business transitions and responsible for living depressing lives.  Absolute thinking is based on the assumption that “A” is “A” and nothing but “A,” known as the Principle of Identity, causes owners to have a “loving” attachment to their companies by its fusing their personal and professional identities together.  This personal attachment to owning a business makes them unable to answer the following question: “I am a business owner, who am I when I no longer own a business?” My suggestion is that you ask yourself, five questions when you say that you love running your companies:

1. What do you specifically “love” about running your business?

2. As an owner of your business, do you think that you’re overly attached to your company? 

3. Are you able to separate yourself from your business?

4. What do you “love” doing when you are not running your company?

5. Do you know who you are when you are no longer working?

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To learn about how create a new identity to help you plan a successful business transition, read "Finding Your New Owner:   For Your Business, For Your Life", by Jack Beauregard.  You can get Chapter One as a free download at this button:

 

 

 

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The Successful Transition Planning Institute of Cambridge, MA teaches Baby Boomers and their advisors how to avoid boring, meaningless retirements.  STPI's books, tools, training and seminars empower Baby Boomers to "Think", "Live" and "Decide" what to do with their companies and careers.  By doing so,  Baby Boomers create plans for dynamic new lives, full of meaning and purpose. (see video).

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