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Business Owners: Don’t Become a Victim of Success

By Generational Equity

Business Success

“It is not until owners and their firms reach seemingly impassible challenges, obstacles, and barriers that they begin to experience their historical success getting in the way of future success. Simply put, the problem they face is in the mirror.” – Allie Taylor, The Paradox of Success

Is there anything quite like the sweet smell of success?

As a business owner, success is often the key driving force behind building your business. It is the confirmation that your industry knowledge, the money you’ve invested and the long hours spent growing your company have been worth it. For many, it is their reason for getting up in the morning to build on the successes of yesterday.

However, success for business owners can prove a double-edged sword, one that many entrepreneurs recognize too late. “How can success be a bad thing?” you might be wondering. Because becoming too attached to historical successes can cloud your vision for new ideas to grow your business and, eventually, hinder your ability to create a successful exit strategy.

The long and the short of it: If you prioritize success too much, you set yourself up for failure.

This is something Allie Taylor discusses in her article, The Paradox of Success. In it, Taylor highlights how success as a business owner can be a disadvantage if you become too reliant on experiencing it. We recommend reading this article yourself, but we wanted to bring your attention to this quote in particular:

“The phenomenon is also a significant contributor to the high rate (≥ 70%) of mid-market business owners that fail to exit their businesses on their own terms and live a satisfying life of significance beyond their role as owner.”

Research from the U.S. Trust backs up this claim, with as many as 63% of business owners lacking a formal exit strategy. Therefore, becoming a victim of success as a business owner can cloud your view of the right time to exit your business, and consequently limit the amount you will receive when the time comes to sell. Simply put, too many business owners try to “time” the market and exit when timing is perfect. Since no one can predict when this will occur, it is far better to create a well thought out, planned exit strategy that matches your financial needs with the realities of the market. 

Proactive Exit Planning

An over-reliance on success impacts your ability to develop the perfect exit strategy in a number of ways:

  • Your business conforms to your needs and demands to achieve success – potential buyers might not believe your company is capable of growth without your influence.
  • You may be closed off to ideas that conflict with your models for success, even if these could positively impact your business valuation.
  • You may fear exiting your business as you are scared of leaving money on the table, either from your company’s profits or from a prospective buyer.

This last point is especially crucial, and separates owners that are able to PLAN their exit and those that HAVE to exit. Perhaps exiting is the furthest thing from your mind and you’re happy enjoying the successes and challenges of ownership, but it is never too early to start building a buyer ready business. It will save you plenty of headaches in the long run.

As Taylor identifies, middle-market business owners that guard against the paradox of success experience several benefits in growing their company to greater heights, and exiting at the right time for the optimal value. When it comes to selling your business, these attributes will be vital in how much you receive for the years of effort in building it from the ground up. And, above all else, this thinking will help you realize that you are not your business, and place you in a position to prepare for life after it.

Reaching this stage isn’t easy, but our professionals at Generational Equity are experienced at helping business owners achieve this. It starts by attending one of our executive conferences, which are completely complimentary and held regularly throughout North America. Here, you will get a thorough introduction to the M&A process, business valuation models and how to determine the optimal time to sell your company.

After attending, you will be more confident in your understanding of the process and equipped with knowledge of the planning it takes to exit for the optimal price. Therefore, the successes in building your business will carry forward into a successful exit strategy – one that will attract the right buyers and secure your financial legacy.

The Bottom Line: Success in business is what we strive for, but don’t let it consume your life. By not becoming a victim of your own success, you open your mind to opportunities that increase your company’s valuation and better prepare yourself for life beyond it.

You can discover when and where the next conference in your area is on our website – Alternatively, you can contact us directly on 972-232-1121 to learn more about Generational Equity’s award-winning approach to exit planning.

And special thanks the National Center for the Middle Market and Allie Taylor, Principal of Orange Kiwi, a consulting firm helping business owners prepare for the eventual transition from their companies. If you would like to read the entire article from Ms. Taylor, follow this link: The Paradox of Success.

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Success, you have been added to our list.

I wanted to write you a quick letter to express our appreciation and our delight on the outcome of helping us through the process of our recent sale. We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.
Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
Michael worked tirelessly, He followed every lead meticulously and urgently to make sure nothing was missed.
Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
The help you provided us during each step of this process made us feel very comfortable and confident we were selecting the right approach to transition our Company.
Andy Graham, Vice President, Modern Heating & Plumbing
T.D., thank you so much! You are a great leader! I love how you are using your gifts and talents to better others. You are clearly a GREAT COACH! This 3 day session undoubtedly changed the future of our business, and very well may have been the sole catalyst to save my company, my health and my marriage! A genuine “thank you” from the bottom of my heart.
Bryan D. Horn, Owner, Over Under Clothing
Bruce and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Generational Equity for assigning Musa Jagne to our transaction. In Bruce’s words, “Musa did one hell of a job for us!”
Karen S. Williams, CFO, BW Manufacturing
We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
Greetings Mike. Thank you for the captivating and compelling presentation you made at the Phoenix presentation last week. Over many years in business yours was the most informative and well-presented presentation, on any subject, that I have ever attended! Your energy and enthusiasm combined with your concise and captivating support of your positions with easily understood examples and data was compelling.
Pete L.
The process was much more involved than I expected and your help, experience and advice was a big factor in making the negotiations go as smoothly as possible.
Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
Tom Staszak is one of the most professional people I have dealt with in my last forty years of business. You’ve got a great group of people and you have built a truly professional organization.
Michael J Polarek, President, Paragon Packaging
I quickly recognized that Don was working for Sharpe Mixers above all else, and held our interests above others.
Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
We thank you Eric and Generational Equity making our dream come true.
Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
Thank you again for all your guidance and support. Any company will achieve what they intend, if they have you on their team!
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
I would like to thank you and your firm, Generational Equity, for being our valued advisors in our journey.
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I couldn’t have asked for a better team than Michael and Deborah. We couldn’t have done it without them.
Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
Generational Equity’s assistance was invaluable in compiling and marketing our business.
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I am pleased that I was able to work with Andrew Byrd throughout this experience. From the first meeting we had in Minneapolis I felt that I was in good hands. His knowledge and expertise is second to none. He guided the process consistently throughout. I feel lucky that I was pared with Andrew and could not be happier that I chose Generational Equity to handle this major life event. Thank you Andrew and GenEq for everything!
Eric Erlandson, Owner, Action Fastenings, Inc.
We were happy to see the interest in our company and what we cherished has not just a valuable company but an important company to the communities we served in.
Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
We are extremely pleased with the way Generational Equity handled the sale of our company. Your associates, Tom and Chris, did an outstanding job of getting us (me) through the process.
Michael J Polarek, President, Paragon Packaging
Dear Chris and Andre, I just wanted to say thanks for all your help. Even though this process was not an easy one, it was comforting to know that I had a capable team standing beside me. You made me feel like we were almost your only client or at least the most important one. Thanks again, and I will recommend your service in the future.
Shenille Engelhart, Owner – CLS Technology
Generational Equity educated and informed us – so that we could be on the upside of a good decision (to sell).
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I need to say an immense thank you to Don Ho for his stellar work ethic, attention to detail, and tireless effort. Also thank you to the whole crew at GE! Without you, Don could not do such a phenomenal job. We were shooting for closing and funding before the end of 2020, due to the uncertainty of the political landscape and taxes. I am happy to report we closed last week and will be funding tomorrow.
Dr. Caty J. Catron PhD, RN, VA-BC – Owner, Vic The Picc, LLC
We will highly recommend Generational Equity and Musa Jagne to any business owner about to embark on the same process.
Karen S. Williams, CFO, BW Manufacturing
Your wisdom and experience were invaluable to me during this once-in-a-lifetime transaction.
Ralph Noblin, President of Noblin & Associates
I must say that I have never worked with a more driven, competent and focused individual as Don Ho.
Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
Thanks again Phil and feel free to have a future client call me if they would like a referral. You are a true professional!
Andy Graham, Vice President, Modern Heating & Plumbing
We knew it would be a difficult task to have someone really understand our business and our market, prior to researching a possible buyer, so it was imperative that we found someone of your caliber, with definite proven experience in this area.
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.