Summer is coming and that usually drums up memories of long relaxing getaways to the beach or mountains, time with family and friends, and freedom from the demands of a business…even if for just a few days. If that is starting to sound more and more appealing, it might be time to take a serious look at bringing on a motivated successor. This does not mean your exit is imminent, it simply allows you some additional flexibility to evaluate who you might invite to assume more management and leadership responsibilities, and when you might be ready to reduce your level of responsibility in the business and create your endless summer. Ultimately, it gives you the opportunity to evaluate your timeline and confidence in an exit strategy.
First - Who?
The usual suspects include family members, key employees or third party buyers. But your business isn’t ‘usual’. For your business, you need to consider what matters most to you. If you want the business to provide for your family, you have to realistically consider whether the family member(s) has the skills and experience to run the business profitably and sustainably. Are they motivated enough? Can you afford the options on a ‘sale’ to the family member and still fund a retirement lifestyle that meets your personal needs?
If you want the business to benefit your key employee(s), you have to realistically consider whether they have the skills, experience and motivation to run it? You also have to figure out what a ‘sale’ to them will look like and whether you can afford to do it.
Financing your Endless Summer
Most transactions occurring between owners and family or key employees will be financed, in part or whole, by the owner. And, these are the most complex and challenging transactions to work through. Why? Selling your ‘baby’ to family or loyal employees is so emotional. Your deep connection to them is what makes the sale so gratifying and yet for the transition to work for all, it requires you to let go and accept a different leadership model. It’s easier to do that with someone you are not emotionally connected to. Are you prepared to release the reins over time, while financing their strategic direction?
Building Value: Your Endless Summer
If a third party buyer is the best option for you, you need to build your strategy now. This is the most time consuming of the three options because you have to find them, negotiate and then sell. Starting now allows you to test interest, seek prospective buyers, and get feedback on the value of your business to a third party. We know it’s valuable to you, but what will someone else pay for it? With that information, you can choose to invest another 2 – 5 years or even 5 – 10 years, to make the timing and valuation work for you.
Is it time for Your Endless Summer?
You’ve invested in your business. Now invest in your life. It’s your time.