You spent years investing time and energy in growing your business. Like raising your children, the process had its ups and downs, its moments of joy and sadness, its triumphs and failures. And, like raising your children, you’ve reached a point where the business is mature and the next chapter of your life is around the corner. You want the best for your family, your employees, and your customers, so how do you take care of them and also enjoy your well-earned retirement?
The Seven Ps
When I was in the Army, my platoon sergeant liked to say, “Prior proper planning prevents poor performance.” That’s actually only six Ps, but if you know any (former) sergeants, you can probably guess the unprintable seventh. Let’s look at each of these words in the context of your end goal – a successful transition for everyone involved:
Start early! You can’t wait for the last minute – you can’t even wait for the last year. A good transition takes time, so give yourself, your family, and your transition team plenty of it. Is the next generation of your leadership ready to take the reins? Are your customers comfortable with your sales team, or are you the nexus of each relationship? Are your accounting records in good order? All of those things and many more will be put under a microscope during the process. Give your team time to address any weak points.
Build the right team! You’re good, but you can’t do it all on your own. You’ll need the right people, inside and outside of your business, to help you. Before the process is through, you’re going to need operational, financial, and legal expertise, plus solid tax advice. Working through obstacles together is more efficient.
Think about others! You’re not the only one who needs to prepare. Have you had an honest conversation with your family about your goals? Is your leadership team ready to step up so you can step down? Active participants or not, your family has a connection to the business. They may dream of seeing the business become a multi-generational enterprise. Your leaders may dream of taking the business to the next level and beyond. Recognize the investment others have and value their insights.
Manage your expectations! If there’s one thing you’d like to avoid, it’s regret when everything is said and done. You (and your advisors) have to be honest and realistic in your assessment of the possibilities. Focus clearly on what’s achievable and trust in your team.
Healthy is wealthy! Have you ever known someone who retired after a long and successful career…and promptly died? It happens. The accumulated stress of a career, the stress of transitioning, post-retirement boredom – these things are real and can hurt you and your family. Remember to handle things one day at a time and in manageable chunks.
Perfect is the enemy of good! There is no universal yardstick by which you can measure the success of your transition. It’s not about EBITDA, the multiple, or net cash. It’s about satisfaction with the path you’ve taken. Don’t let someone else’s opinion of the “right” numbers encourage you to overlook what’s right for you and yours.
Is it really that simple?
Is it simple to lift 300 pounds? Yes — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. A business transition is a process, not an event. Find the right people to help you develop a good plan, then execute. Your next chapter is waiting!
The information contained herein is general in nature and is not intended, and should not be construed, as legal, accounting, investment, or tax advice or opinion provided by CliftonLarsonAllen LLP (CliftonLarsonAllen) to the reader. For more information, visit CLAconnect.com.
CLA exists to create opportunities for our clients, our people, and our communities through our industry-focused wealth advisory, outsourcing, audit, tax, and consulting services. Investment advisory services are offered through CliftonLarsonAllen Wealth Advisors, LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisor.