Selling Your Business: Control Your Destiny, Shape Your Legacy
By Trip Holmes
You hear us talk a lot at Sabre Capital about Baby Boomer business owners (say that one really fast!), and the decisions they will be making right now that will be some of the biggest they will ever make, both as family leaders and business leaders.
That said, selling your business is perhaps even a bigger decision than the one that caused you to start it. There’s so much more on the line after you’ve run a successful operation for any real length of time. Most of the business owners that I work with have run profitable companies for 15-30 years—a generation or two!
When I meet with prospective clients, I like to step away from the numbers (there’ll always be plenty of time for those) and talk about goals. And the common denominators I’ve seen in the folks who work with people like me and a full advisory team to sell their companies are a desire to control their destiny and a desire to shape their legacy.
I’ll give you a couple of great examples, from a pair of current clients. Recently, the Richards family, Scott and Sylvia, came to me to sell their company, Asphalt Enterprises. This company, like almost all family-owned businesses, had become a beloved venture for this couple, who had poured their hearts and souls into building a profitable paving and maintenance company. But as with many, their priorities changed and quality of life became paramount. The Richards knew that selling the business would be a major life change – less stress, more family time and on their terms! So rather than delay the inevitable, they engaged us, and I’m proud to say that we closed on their sale last week.
What the Richards family accomplished was to control their destiny. They were able to leverage their business in the form of a sale to pursue health and happiness in (early) retirement)—an incredible destiny if you ask me.
I’m also working with a rather incredible business owner, Scott Kisner of Carolina Metal Fabricators. Scott, too, is in the process with Sabre Capital of selling his well established company. And while he certainly has destiny goals—taking his wife, packing up their RV and seeing the country in his retirement, for him, selling is mainly about shaping his legacy.
While many of my clients have to operate under strict confidentiality, Scott has been the exact opposite. He has developed a culture of communication through the years, where every employee has an open door to both management and to him as the owner. When we first started discussing selling his business, he told me that the nature of this transaction would be no different—hence, his employees are actively engaged as the search for a buyer goes on.
Scott’s top priority in this transaction is that he finds a buyer who’s a great fit for all of his employees, so that the company can move forward and continue to provide a strong paycheck, benefits, and culture to all. When you take that position, as Scott has, it’s the very definition of shaping your legacy.
My advice to all of you in the midst of this “gray tsunami” is to start thinking less about selling your business as a transaction and more about a reflection of your values—both for your family and those who have helped you build your business, management and employees alike. Then, you can more clearly see what matters most to you and accomplish both of these great ambitions—controlling your destiny and shaping your legacy—in the biggest transaction of your life.
If you’re ready to talk, we’re ready to help. Call Sabre Capital at 919-847-0099 to get started.