As Mike Tyson so eloquently stated "everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face".
Extended Version: Many boomer age business owners have been putting off transitioning their company for so long, it's now the accepted status. Or they promised their spouse, the team, advisers and most importantly themselves, five more years and I'm out.
But suddenly circumstances change and you're faced with an unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach. You want out, but you're trapped, for at least a period of time. And it's always longer than you want it to be.
Could be changes in the business environment are making it too much work. New competition is coming out of nowhere. They're well funded, younger or seasoned owners getting back in the game, more aggressive and kicking your butt. Higher interest rates, cross border restrictions and you get the picture.
Personal reasons rank equally high as business or higher. Grandchildren are at that age where you can't afford to miss a minute of the fun. A dollar store purchase of a whoopee cushion can be the greatest gift and provide kids with hours of fun. Seriously, do you want to miss that?
It's a family business and the patriarch and matriarch pass on. After an appropriate grieving time, everyone in the family wants their share. Active in the business and non active family members all want what's theirs and to make their own decisions. And rightly so. Now you find out who holds a grudge. Who thinks they should have been active in the business but were overlooked.
The original thought, (not plan), was 5 years and you would be out. The new reality is 5 years now needs to be 1 or 2 years. Regardless of how unrealistic that is, it's the cards you've been dealt. You can get out in a short time frame but not likely for real money or the amount you need and on your terms. If you had prepared the business for sale or transition you could have absorbed the fallout of a condensed timetable.
This is when the 'now what do I do' kicks in. You haven't planned ahead and certainly not for a much shorter time frame. Reality steps in and punches you in the face. Making decisions when you're dazed, confused, and pressured typically never ends well.
Regardless of the reason for a change of heart, when it's time to sell, the clock starts ticking. You can't stop it or change it back, time continues moving forward and eventually you will run out.
The point is, start getting ready today. Because even if you know the punch is coming, likely you won't see it until it's too late.
If it does happen this way, you need a first class team in your corner to help you through the transition. More than likely your current legal and accounting advisers for the business don't have experience selling a company. It's like asking your running buddy to help you get ready for a boxing match. No good will come of it. They may have the best of intentions, but not the experience. There will be blood or at least bruising. Remember keep your left up.
As always, I am available for a telephone conversation or a coffee. Aspirin available upon request.