Company successions are highly emotional processes. For all persons involved. In most cases, a business succession is a once-in-a-lifetime affair for both the transferor and the transferee. No matter whether it is due to old age, serious illness or other reasons: Almost always, entire life’s work is at the centre of business successions.
The process of giving up or transferring a company to an internal or external person or institution does not begin with the awarding of the contract or the mandate. The entrepreneur concerned deals with the issue himself much earlier. Many full-blooded entrepreneurs find it difficult to take the first step because they fear for their life’s work. After all, they often spend most of their life building up their own business. If you look at it from the entrepreneur’s point of view, it quickly becomes clear why this process does not call for a pure broker or advisor. Rather, a companion must be at the entrepreneur’s side. A companion who can think his way into the situation and, in the best case, has experienced it himself.
Emotions quickly boil up at many points in the succession process. At an early stage of the process, the transferor is confronted with the professional company valuation. Here the expectation and the calculated value sometimes drift far apart. The disappointment has to be absorbed. The client now expects options and a concrete perspective. In negotiations with prospective buyers, it is the task of the facilitator to channel the emotions. A good example is the buyer’s demand for a good handover. Here it is advantageous if the transferor clearly shows that it is in his interest to preserve his life’s work. Emotional outbursts must be taken seriously. Through various techniques and methods, an experienced succession specialist can have a calming and constructive effect.
Accompany, advise and protect
Of course, professional and well-founded advice is also part of an accompaniment. The transferor wants to benefit from expert knowledge. They want the best possible outcome at the end of the process. This is not always the monetary reward for the handover, but often also the knowledge about the continuity of the company and the jobs. A buyer is likely to bring his own ideas into the company. That can mean restructuring. It can be structural changes. It can also mean restructuring the company’s portfolio. For many transferors, the plans that a buyer brings up in the negotiations are a nuisance. Something is to be changed that the transferor had previously shied away from. Emotions can quickly boil over and the table becomes noisy. This is where the facilitator has to intervene in a calming way and bring the negotiation back down to earth. Too quickly, statements are made that are not relevant to the sale or even harm the seller.
What makes a good companion for business succession?
There are a few criteria that you should clarify before hiring a consultant.
- Has the consultant had any experience of his own?
- Can the consultant provide “real” references?
- Are there additional qualifications of the counsellor in, for example, mediation or coaching?
- Very important: Is the chemistry between entrepreneur and consultant right?
A good advisor is both a companion and a protective shield for the transferor. In all phases of the process and also the ancillary processes. He coordinates tax advisors, auditors, lawyers and interested parties. The development of a handover story is part of his portfolio and he is always ready with an open ear when emotions demand it. Even after the transfer of the company, in the post-merger integration phase, he is at the side of the seller with advice and action.
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