Recently I heard a story about a man walking into a local investment broker’s office with a check for $80 million. He had just sold his company and asked, “Is there someone here who can help me?”
Over the past 20 years, I’ve worked with many clients who have bought, sold, and invested in companies, so I was astounded that someone could get to that point without having an advisor providing advice and guidance along the way during a very important transition in life.
I don’t know this man. Maybe someone tried to help him and he was too busy. Maybe it all happened so quickly that he didn’t have time to wrap his mind around everything involved in the process. Or maybe he didn’t have anyone to guide him through all the pieces of the transition and sale.
I recently read baby boomers own 40% of small businesses. At some point, they will need business transition planning advice — either bequeathing to a family member, selling to an outside company, or transitioning to employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). It’s a complicated process with many emotional, family, and financial considerations, including business structure and tax complexities.
Business owners are sometimes hesitant to discuss their business succession plans, and understandably so. They pour their hearts and souls into building their businesses, and sometimes are sensitive about their employees’ futures and the confidential nature of selling their business. They may want to make sure that their employees are well taken care of, their good employees stick around during the transition, or they may feel overwhelmed by the very complicated process.
Selling a business is also a huge life transition. But, I have good news — developing a great relationship with your banker can help. I’m overjoyed when a client calls and begins the conversation with, “I just need some advice.” Although many times I don’t have the answers, my colleagues and I at First Business Bank take pride in our many wonderful professional relationships with great accountants, attorneys, trust professionals, and business bankers who are fabulous resources.
It’s our job to collaborate with clients to help them figure out what this very major life transition looks like. What’s the next step? Do you want to spend your time after your business sale travelling the world? On the golf course? Sitting by the water at your lake home? What are your family considerations? Do you want to purchase another business? Whatever it is, your banker can discuss options with you and help you maneuver through the process.
If you don’t have a great relationship with your banker, I suggest finding one with whom you feel comfortable collaborating. Ask your accountant, attorney, friends, and other people who run successful businesses who they suggest.
It’s never too early to start thinking about what you want out of the next stage of your life, and we are thrilled to help you get there. It’s worth the time to have some preliminary discussions. Don’t be afraid to call and say “I just have a question.”