The fire sale

Dave's failure to plan, coupled with unexpected medical issues for his wife, led to a decision that minimized a lifetime of hard work and made their dream retirement nearly impossible.

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Succession planning failure the fire sale

Dave was done. Building his business had been the work of both he and Angie’s life, working side-by-side day after day. Weekends and holidays had evaporated as weeks, months and years went by. They held a joint vision of what they would do once the business was successful and could be passed on to their kids.

Then Angie got really sick, and it was time to make some changes. Without Angie by his side and working together as a team, Dave didn’t think he could continue on in the business. He considered transitioning the business to their kids, but they were all in school and he wasn’t sure they would even be interested. None of his employees were in a position to purchase the business either. Together, he and Angie decided they only had one option: to sell the business externally.

There was simply no time to shop around and Dave signed with the first broker he talked to. Unfortunately, the broker needed a lot of information that Dave just couldn’t provide because his records were in shambles. That had been another project that was on their list of things to eventually do.

His employees were hanging in there pretty well. The bookkeeper was staying on top of invoicing and getting the bills paid, and his managers were doing what they could to keep everyone on the shop floor busy. The problem was bringing in new work. He’d been the only person getting quotes out for years. He knew there were enough recurring orders to keep the shop floor busy for a little while, but nobody was equipped to bring in new work.

Dave had to admit his heart just wasn’t in it anymore. He’d loved the years of hard work and the problem-solving skills he’d had to develop just to keep everything running, but every time he went to the office to try to get something done, his focus was back in that hospital room.

The broker ended up finding a buyer within a few months, but they were willing to pay little more than the value of the assets on the shop floor – after all, the only salesman and president of the company was leaving. Dave was relieved to have the burden of the business off of his back and to be able to focus on Angie’s health.

Angie recovered after a year in and out of the hospital, and Dave went to back to work as a salesman at his old company, reporting to an employee he had hired. He and Angie didn’t have it in them to start something new again – they were tired, and they had to focus on saving for retirement now that their nest egg – the business – was gone. They often wondered what might be different if they had been better prepared to exit.

Don’t be like Dave.
Let an experienced guide help you prepare for your business exit.

When ignorance is not bliss...