Planning for Your Business’ Future
A close friend stopped by our office this week to discuss a business opportunity he had been eyeing. While not an insurance agency, he wanted to bounce the idea off us since he knows we spend our days evaluating opportunities.
After running the numbers and discussing how he could finance the acquisition, the next question he asked was, “How do I sell this when I’m ready?” Our friend is close to 50 years old and knows he will only keep this business 10-15 years before selling to fund his retirement.
His foresight made us smile.
So many agency owners are hesitant to discuss succession planning. Many are first-generation owners, uber focused on building and running their business, and never slow down to plan how they will eventually transition their labor of love. Most often, our first meeting with a client is when they are ready to sell because they are ready to retire, or an unforeseen life event is forcing them to sell.
Ideally, an owner should start planning 3-5 years prior to their desire to sell*. If this matches your time frame, or you are a planner, consider these four questions as you start this journey:
1. Is your advisory team in place?
Ideally, this would include your CPA/tax advisor, a skilled M&A attorney (not the friend who drafted your will), financial planner, key family and/or management members and an M&A advisor.
2. What is your agency worth?
If you haven’t had a valuation done in the last few years, you need to get one completed ASAP. It can make all the difference for your financial future. Owners over, or under, value their businesses based upon industry rumors. Understanding what your agency is truly worth will help you properly time your exit; like moving your timeline up to capitalize on historic valuations today or making the proper changes now that will allow you to maximize your sales price down the road.
3. Have you started planning for the transition?
Business owners often overlook how difficult, and time consuming, it is to replace themselves after a business sale. Training key employees to take on more responsibility, introducing them to key clients and delegating some of your day to day responsibilities will make the transition much smoother. Your efforts will likely increase the value of your business by reducing risk for the eventual buyer.
4. What will you do after the sale?
Chances are this agency has been the center of your attention for many years. You need to identify how you will spend your time once the transition is complete. This is an area commonly overlooked by owners. The happiest sellers we’ve worked with had something specific they planned to focus their attention on after the transaction was over.
In our next post, we will discuss assembling your advisory team and how finding the right professionals is key to the success of the transition.
As always, if you have questions contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The information in this article is for informational purposes only.
*Remember, businesses with multiple partners need to have succession plans that address death, divorce or disability at or near inception!