For some business owners who begin their exit journey, the “why” of selling is not deeply considered often enough. But the “why” question is in some ways the most important you can answer, because if you are not crystal clear on your goals post-transaction, odds are good that the process of exiting will wear you out.
Because the exit journey can be very challenging especially if you don't have a professional M&A firm by your side AND if you are not thoroughly committed to the process, with a clear vision of why you are doing it and where you want to be afterwards. If so, odds are good you will join the throngs of business owners that bail out at the 11th hour when the path becomes really difficult (aka, due diligence) and they are not fully committed to the "why" of exiting.
That is why many of our dealmakers consider themselves to be life coaches, if not full-time therapists, to our clients.
Now the reality is every business owner at some level will admit that he/she is not immortal and eventually the business will need to transition to new owners. And most realize that a planned orderly exit is FAR better than one caused by external forces that you have little (or no) control over.
The problem is two-fold:
The first dilemma is easy to fix: Hire a professional, experienced M&A firm like Generational to guide you. Although success is not guaranteed (see problem number two above) the odds go up dramatically if you have a team of pros collaborating with you, guiding you, counseling you and supporting you through the journey.
The answer to the second issue listed above is plainly up to you. We have found that our clients who can clearly answer the question – “So, what are you going to do with the rest of your life after exit?” – are in a far better position to not give up when the hard times of due diligence rears its ugly head.
When we first meet with our clients, that is in fact one of the first questions we ask. If the answer is a blank stare or some mumbled generalities, we know we must go back to square one and really help the client discover what life could look like after the deal closes.
What you want to do is up to you, your family, your passions, and your desires (and ultimately how much capital you need from the deal to do any of them). We highly recommend that our clients meet early on with family members, friends, trusted counselors – folks that know you well enough to tell you that backpacking in Tibet is may not the best option for you post-sale (although for some it might be – nothing against backpacking and/or Tibet).
But I raise a key point in the paragraph above and this is vitally related to the WHY you want to sell – How much future income will you need from the sale to fund the next chapter in your life? This is why Generational is so fortunate to have a Wealth Management team that can get involved with our clients early in the process. Because how much you WANT to have post-close may not be what you NEED to have to fund your next phase.
But if you haven’t decided or articulated what you want to do post-sale, then how much capital will you really need?
The good news, as I mentioned at the beginning of this missive, is that our dealmakers are skilled in helping you figure this all out. Many of our clients become life-long friends with their dealmakers sharing their lives post-sale that they are so thankful to have. Here are just a few of our clients on life after the deal closes:
Having had the honor and privilege of meeting with each of these business owners to do these interviews, I can tell you that each one is pursuing a completely different life post-sale than the others. Although none are backpacking in Tibet, they are enjoying their lives because they knew what they wanted to do after the close and planned for it accordingly.
You can too!
We know from helping hundreds of business owners discover their future, that exiting a business is never easy. To leave the organization, team, clients, and myriad of other relationships and face the unknown is tough. There is an old saying, “the fear that I know is not as bad as the fear I don’t know,” meaning that even though you may want to move on, the fear of the unknown can keep you locked up.
To learn more about our counseling services (just kidding) and the proven Generational process, please set aside some time to meet with us at one of our Executive Growth and Exit Planning conferences. These are complimentary and we hold them throughout the U.S. and Canada. You can find one near you here.
Most importantly discover your life goals and your desires post-sale as you navigate the process, so in the end you don’t end up asking your spouse, best friend, or Cousin Larry: What the heck am I going to do now?
Carl Doerksen is the Director of Corporate Development at Generational Equity.
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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 had the pleasure of working with Mr. Ahmad Behjati Managing Director, M&A, for Generational Equity during our acquisition of Papa's Dodge in late 2021. Generational Equity and Mr. Behjati represented and marketed Papa’s Dodge. As our primary contact, Mr. Behjati was professional in every facet of this acquisition process, conveying valuable advice most times and assisting us in every step of the process.Rick Greene of Dobbs Equity Partners LLC
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
The most important contribution I think Ahmad made was with his personality and work ethic. He is sincere, efficient, and very hard working. He was available to me at all times, whether it was for specific detail of the negotiation or just to talk through the bigger picture. He listened, advised, and recommended, but never forced his idea or opinions. In the time we worked together, he became a valued colleague and also a friend.Salvo Stoch, Founder and CEO of Sleeping Partners
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
I would like to thank you and your firm, Generational Equity, for being our valued advisors in our journey.Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you have done for us. Not only did you take care of all the aspects of the sale but took extra care to make sure we knew what it looked like every step of the way. I will definitely recommend your company to anyone that is in a position to or looking to exit their business.Shane and Johanna Kline, Owners of Vision Upfitters
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.
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.
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
The professionals at Generational Equity then helped develop a roadmap for enhancing the value of the firm and an evaluation report. This was completed by June 14, 2021. We then developed the Confidential Information Memorandum and put Taylor Studios, Inc. on the market by July.Betty L. Brennan, President, Taylor Studios
Generational Equity’s professional staff helped me every step of the way. Their network and professionals are the only reason I sold my company this quickly. For me this is a once in a lifetime sale and I was unfamiliar with the process. I was able to lean on them with questions and concerns.
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
I decided to attend the conference and hopefully receive some guidance on how to structure an exit plan of my business. Upon arriving at the conference, I was so impressed with the presentation given by Generational Equity that I set a future appointment that week to discuss the possibility of selling my business with their Senior Managing Director David Robinson.JoAnn Ellis, Owner of Fondren 5 Star Kennels
Your wisdom and experience were invaluable to me during this once-in-a-lifetime transaction.Ralph Noblin, President of Noblin & Associates
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
Generational Equity educated and informed us – so that we could be on the upside of a good decision (to sell).Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
Through the sale process, Generational brought in several interested buyers and we closed in about 6 months. I am so glad I accepted that invitation to the conference and could not be happier with the whole process. The team at Generational coupled with their knowledge and guidance was so valuable that in the end, I know I could never have done this on my own!JoAnn Ellis, Owner of Fondren 5 Star Kennels
Thanks to you, the entire GE team and especially Michael Goss for driving a great valuation, coaching me and driving the process across the finish line. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support GE going forward. P.S. Given my experience with GE I felt comfortable enough to sign up with Generation Wealth Advisors!Tom Currier, Former President & CEO, Rackmount Solutions
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.
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
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.
We were represented by Michael Goss with Generational. The due diligence was grueling and exhausting, but Michael propped us up and kept us motivated throughout the process. Debi and I continued to ask each other how we could possibly make it through this process without the assistance of Michael. Michael's professionalism and knowledge is absolutely amazing, and we are so blessed to have had him by our side as we made our future dreams come true.Bob and Debi Lee, Owners of BL Technology, Inc and BL Tl Services, LLC
We thank you Eric and Generational Equity making our dream come true.Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
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
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
After attending a conference with GE, I decided that the value they bring would be worth the expense and as soon as I started working with them, I realized that was the right decision. When we started to get LOIs, Fred Zweifel took the lead on the communication and supported negotiations throughout the process, which got tricky as we moved forward. I learned that it can be common for companies to make a great offer then work to erode that price with their discoveries, but Fred and the GE team kept that from happening.Caroline Connelly, CEO, OptoTest
Generational Equity’s assistance was invaluable in compiling and marketing our business.Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
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
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.
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