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You will exit your business one day. This is just an irrefutable fact; as the saying goes, ‘death and taxes are the only two certainties!’

Our experience strongly suggests that starting to consider succession early is always a good idea. We once acted for a 91-year-old owner who turned down an offer for seven times his annual earnings in cash, believing it wasn’t enough. Unfortunately, he passed away before we had a chance to get him an improved offer.    

There are three broad options when considering succession:

  1. Sell the business to a trade player or third party,
  2. Place the business under management and remain the owner or part owner, 
  3. Close the business down once the owner no longer wishes to operate the business.

Option two is becoming an increasingly attractive option for certain vendors especially where the market shuns an asset, often for no good reason. When executed well, option 2 can be terrific for vendors, opening up a new and exciting future beyond the daily grind. Ironically, as people execute on option 2, option 1 often re-opens as buyers love it when a business is working well under management.

The three things that must happen to execute option 2 well are:

  1. Put the right leadership in place – this backfilling exercise is delicate and needs thinking through in detail.
  2. Set out a clear strategy and plan for the next 3-5 years. This does not have to be ‘War and Peace’, but it does have to make sense.
  3. Get a right sized board and governance structure in place with one non-exec to help you hold the management team to account each month – this is the key to an owners future peace of mind!             

So, irrespective of what you’re contemplating in the future, take some early action, even if it’s just an initial conversation with somebody who hopefully knows what they are talking about. In any event, two heads are often better than one!

If you want to know what to do to be ‘succession ready’, click here to read our blog on “Succession Planning – a practical approach”, or if you have been approached and want to talk through what’s going for you at the moment call myself or one of the team at Oasis Partners on 02 8599 3442.

Good luck