Why I Do Exit Planning

My father owned a small service business when I was growing up. I remember going out on service calls with him on weekends and holidays and was so impressed with the way he interacted with his customers and the way he cared about what he was doing.  Unfortunately he was not surrounded with good advisors who could help him grow and develop the business. My father was what we call a grinder, someone who worked his hardest in his chosen business, but he simply was not a finder, someone who could grow his business.  Before I understoodmore about the particulars of the business, he was forced to sell and ended up with very little to show for his years of grinding.  This marked me in ways that I am only beginning to understand.

I began my career in a major corporation and quickly realized that being a small cog in a large wheel, was not for me.  While in public accounting, I had the opportunity as a junior staff member to work on the transaction that affectedly launched Aon.  I saw one person with a vision, purchase companies from a parent and how they went on to create value and fulfill their dream.

While in my MBA program, I was drawn to courses like small business management, along with key marketing and finance classes, that related to the growth of companies in the private sector.  During this time, I had the privilege of working for a start-up organization and cut my teeth on what it took to bring a product to market.  I also realized how difficult it can be to create a successful company, when after 5 years, we prepared the company for sale; not having achieved the market positions we needed for success, as defined by our parent organization.

I have worked for a second generation family business, where we created enormous value, only to prepare it for sale when the third generation was not interested in moving forward with the company and the owner grew tired of running things.  Since no succession plan was ever put in place, a wonderful culture with great employees was destroyed.

I have seen partnerships fracture and fail, ending up in bankruptcy, because there were neither shared values, nor the discipline to stay on task.  I have seen companies overextend themselves with debt because of an ill-advised buy out, where value was not properly understood, nor were metrics in place to successfully manage the business without the original owner around.

I have seen organizations where the owner had a dream to sell the company in five years, but was unwilling to release control and build into the leadership team the decision making skills they would need to move the business forward without him.  I have seen companies that rely too much on one or two customers and do not see the need nor are motivated to invest in and market the business to diversify the customer base.

I have experienced working with start-up businesses that operate with an eye on creating value from the beginning.  These companies start with the end in mind, and then use this as a guide to run the business and make decisions. By doing so, they are creating value and preparing for a sale, while they grow the business.

Through this all, I have had an underlying desire to have my own business, but could never find a product or a service that made sense.  That is until my wife discovered B2B CFO®.  This is a firm, whose mission is to provide me the tools, training and resources to successfully help businesses achieve a higher level of success, so that they can optimize value and create a legacy.  Through this process, I came to realize that millions of baby boomers were owners of business and without proper advisors and plans for growing and exiting their businesses they could easily end up the way my father’s did, having very little to show for it.

With this realization, came a passion to help business owners fulfill their dreams and optimize the value of their businesses.  This could come from selling to a third party at the highest price or by transferring the business to their family, their managers or even their employees.  I discovered that there was no one way or one product to help every business.  To realize my passion to help these business owners I began a three year process of identifying processes, products and training, that will help an owner no matter where they are on the exit planning continuum.

If an owner has given no thought to exiting their business, we may need to start with a plan and an understanding of the legacy and goals they want to achieve.  What do they want to accomplish with the exiting of their business?  What will they do when they do not come to work Monday morning?  It is hard to move forward, if you do not know what you are moving toward.  Stephen Covey says, “It is easy to say no, when you know what the better yes is.”

Have you lost the “Why” you started the business in the first place? As Simon Sinik says, “People do not buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”  So is it clear why your customers buy from you?

If you know what you wish to accomplish, but realize your business is not ready for a transition, we can look strategically at your business and can help you grow it and create value.  We can help grow your sales and EBITDA, build you a management team, expand your customer base and optimize your expenses.

If you are at the point that you are ready to move on and exit, then we can work to get the business ready for that exit.  Selling a business is similar in concept to selling a house.  You need to get things in order and work a due diligence process that will remove risk for a new owner, thus preserving value.

I personally receive joy from helping owners achieve a higher level of success with their business.  Every business, no matter the size, needs an exit or transfer strategy and plan.  In addition, business values follow a cycle that provides a time frame of 3-5 years after the end of a recession to prepare a business for sale.  This period is optimized between years 6-8 of that cycle, and then the value recedes again.  I do not know if the cycle will repeat itself this year, but it is clear that if you are a baby boomer and own a business, unless you prepare it for transition over the next few years and create something that separates you from your competition, you may have trouble selling, as there will be a tsunami of businesses hitting the market for sale over the next 10-15 years, and not enough buyers to purchase them all.  Having a plan today, will help you become successful tomorrow.

I am well positioned to be your exit strategy provider.  For a no obligation consultation please contact me at… pelworth@b2bcfo.com



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