Like many of our Clients you may have gone south for the holiday break. You caught up with winter friends. Some sold their businesses a while ago, some sold recently and this is their first "I don't have to go back" season and others are like you, still thinking about it. Until now.
You've been promising your spouse and children that transitioning was just around the corner. Or swearing up and down that you'd die with your boots on. Until now.
Boomer aged business Owners are a breed unto themselves. You've worked hard all your life building a company that has for the most part provided you and your family with a pretty good lifestyle. No complaints and no real regrets. Until now.
Selling the business was never required or even considered for financing vacations, cottages, winter homes, the kids education, some side investments, hobbies and any of the many surprises life throws at us. Until now.
The plan was to, at some point, transition out of the business and take it easier, however you define that. No pressure to prepare the business for sale first or serious thought about how much it would bring on the open market. You heard stories of Sellers getting 6, 7 or 10 X ebitda or auctions to buy your company. Fewer Sellers to compete with and more Buyers every day. It all sounded great. Until now.
The reality now is you need to sell the company to finance your retirement. You have no idea how long you or your spouse will live. Therefore no real way of knowing how much you need. Regardless of what you require, Buyers rarely pay 'what you need', unless the business is worth it. Just kidding. They don't care what you need, they pay what the business is worth. Until now.
Let's do the math. 65% of all established businesses in Canada and the US are owned by Boomers - Owners born between 1946-1964 the oldest boomer Owner is 74 and the youngest is 56. Owners are rapidly backing themselves into a corner. Many businesses never sell. You thought you had plenty of time. You assumed or hoped you would get what the business was worth. Until now.
It was a Sellers market, as many Owners have not started the process or sold yet. To put it into real terms 90-95% have not sold and 80+% don't even have a transition plan for selling their business or a team to help sell it. So to be clear, you were in the driver's seat if you had a well run, solid and profitable business with a big future and a great team running it without your participation. You planned and prepared for transition and a successful sale was in your future. Until now.
While you may be many steps above the other Sellers you may have waited a little too long. Buyers are now taking charge. They know you need to sell because of age, lack of enthusiasm, other interests, no successor etc etc. etc. They also know your fellow boomer aged Owners need to sell. As a Seller, you are running out of runway and have no choice but to take action. Today it has become a Buyers market. They are smart, savvy and experienced Buyers. They know way more about this than you do. Or your long time corporate Lawyer or Accountant who never sold a business. Think trading baseball cards with your older sibling.
Next Step - Get Advice, You Can't Do This Alone
One of the most valuable lessons I've learned from studying successful people is that no matter how famous or how rich they are, somewhere in their lives is a coach, a mentor, or an adviser. Successful people accept they will make mistakes and lots of them. They also seek out help to reduce and overcome the inevitable failures. It's part of the process.
The first thing a new President does is establish their advisory group. This applies to presidents of companies or countries. You can't possibly know what to do in every circumstance, particularly if these are new to you. Smart, successful people surround themselves with even smarter associates. Getting guidance is an important element in your future success. Take the first step and get advice.
From my heart, Eric Gilboord