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Apr 30, 201912:33 PMExit Stage Right

with Martha Sullivan

Confusing business discipline with being fancy

(page 2 of 2)

Fear

Ann was open about her fear in taking what she called a “fancy” (aka: structured and disciplined) approach: What if the process stirs up the hornets nest and:

  • We find out what the market value is for the company and it’s not what we assumed;
  • Some want to sell the company outright because they need or want the liquidity;
  • We don’t have a third-generation family member who has the competence and desire to lead the company; or
  • We discover we don’t agree.

There is a human tendency to avoid conflict to preserve the peace, whether in your family or in your business. Is it better not to know whether you have consensus up front? Is it easier and more economical to deal with disagreement when and if it comes up?

My personal bias is to know sooner than later. If we do all agree, we can be confident about our path throughout our transition. If we don’t agree, we have a chance to address it up front and create a better solution for us as individuals and as a family. Ann certainly knows her family dynamics better than I ever could. Yet, as she gives into her fear and rushes to a transaction, she may still find herself on a very slippery slope.

Every owner I talk to about transitioning his or her business wants a successful outcome. You can see it in their eyes and shining from their hearts. The challenge comes in building an understanding of the how they can make it happen. They need a process to address the personal, financial, and ongoing needs of the business and individual. Better outcomes don’t come from fancy; they come from rolling up your sleeves and doing the work — one straightforward, disciplined step at a time.

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About This Blog

Spending half her career as an advisor to privately-held and family businesses and the other half in CFO/COO roles, Martha Sullivan is a partner and the succession planning practice leader in the business transition strategies group at Honkamp, Krueger & Co., P.C. She and her team have extensive experience assisting business owners achieve their personal, business, and transition goals. “Don’t think of the 'exit' from your business like it’s a four-letter word. Make it your next adventure!”

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