The freedoms we have in the US are amazing compared to other parts of the world. This time of year is when most people often reflect on things they are thankful for. But that’s not really the topic of my post. I’m talking about financial freedom and the freedom of letting go of your business.
Our clients sell their insurance agencies for many reasons. They may be ready for retirement, dealing with a personal health issue or one of a spouse, looking to move out of their current area, looking to start a new venture, needing liquidity to take care of financial obligations or simply just tired of the stress that comes with running a business. Whatever the reason, they dream of a greener pasture where they are free to roam unburdened from their business.
If you own an agency though, working is part of your DNA and selling the agency is a big life event that comes with all sorts of questions, unknowns and stresses. How do I start? How do I keep the sale confidential? Who is the right buyer? Am I getting the best deal? Will the deal actually close? What will I do afterwards? Let me assure you that there is a correct way to go about selling your agency to protect confidentiality and insure you get to the closing table with the best deal. You can achieve the dream and there is life after your business. Out of the 100 or so business owners that I’ve helped sell their business, I can’t recall any coming back and saying “I wish I hadn’t done that”. Every single one was ecstatic to see the closing proceeds wired into their account and to be able to turn the reins – and responsibility – over to a new owner. While the prize is very much earned over years of toil, the gift that I’m alluding to is in getting there. We can help.
I often relate the process of selling a business to that of rolling a boulder up a hill. You have to keep the momentum going or risk stalling out and slipping backwards – a very real possibility. The pressure gets most intense as you push hard up through the last few yards too, and then, suddenly, you reach the top and…its gone. The strain is over. The weight is lifted. No more pressure leaning on you. Freedom!
I love helping clients achieve the goal because I know how it plays out. We’re there side-by-side leaning in to get to the finish line. They see it getting closer and get anxious about whether or not we’ll make it. Obstacles and bumps rise up along the path, and we have to navigate around them or over them. I was a long distance runner in my youth. When approaching the home stretch in a 5k, most people pick up the pace and sprint out the finish. It doesn’t work the same in selling an agency. You have a boulder and a hill to contend with. You have to dig your feet in, plant your shoulder and push. Runners cross a finish line and nearly pass out. Agency owners get to the top of the hill, let go of the business and then skip down the other side giddy like a child. No more burden, just the joy of making it over the hill. It’s a great experience that we get to observe firsthand.
Let me round out my analogy by saying that the boulder is much lighter when you have a professional rock pusher at your side. Yes, we are M&A advisors which means that we help manage confidentiality through a sale, help our clients negotiate the highest price for their agency, help protect our clients’ interests by reviewing due diligence and legal documents, and add value in a myriad of other ways. But one of the greatest values that we provide is that we push hard to get the sale transaction completed so our clients can reach freedom, and it is seldom an easy task.
I don’t know what is on your mind this Christmas season but if it is the greener pastures beyond a steep hill, then give us a call. We’re ready to start that trek with you and would be honored to help you achieve the goal of selling your agency. Happy Holidays and here’s to making 2017 a year of new beginnings!
And as proof that there is life after your business, here’s a message from a client six months after selling his agency:
“We’re doing great!…Enjoying every minutes of retirement. We’re going to France and Belgium for a week; then cruising the twelve countries in Baltic area at the end of April.”