Lifestyle and Legacy are two very different types of owner transition objectives.
When we ask a client “What do you expect as a result of our exit planning?” the answer may be about the money, the time frame, or the impact on people. No matter how it is phrased, the response will break down into one of two major categories. It’s either about the owner’s future lifestyle, or the legacy that is left behind.
Many clients want to exit to an enjoyable retirement. Usually, their primary concern is financial security. They want enough money to live comfortably, and to take care of their family. This is the reason many start their process by consulting with a financial planner, but lifestyle objectives can extend well beyond their bank account.
A separate but related objective is time. It may be the time to travel without being chained to a laptop. The time to explore new things outside the business might result in formal education or training. Undertaking a new wellness regimen requires time, as does exploring a new hobby.
Time might be used to engage in community service. An issue that is increasing in the Baby Boomer generation is the time to care for older family members.
Another lifestyle issue is the ability to relocate. Moving to a place for favored activities, a better climate or to be closer to children (and grandchildren) often requires separation from the activities of the business.
Some owners run their businesses for other than purely financial reasons. In these cases, they may be more concerned with how the business continues than the proceeds to be realized from a sale.
Of course, a chief motivation for putting legacy at the top of the list is family succession. It might be a sense of obligation in a company that has already passed through multiple generations, or just a desire to provide future generations with the benefits of ownership.
The role of the business in the community is also a legacy concern. The company could be a key employer in a small town, or a primary sponsor of a school or Little League. The owner’s name on the door or the preservation of long-standing business relationships can often affect the desirability of a buyer in the seller’s eyes.
Environment, Social, or Governance (ESG) concerns have become increasingly important to some sellers. They want to make certain that the importance they place on these issues is shared by future ownership.
Finally, the future growth and success of the business can be considered a legacy issue. An owner could have concern for the opportunities such growth provides to loyal employees, or whether innovations and proprietary processes will be expanded beyond their current limits.
Lifestyle and Legacy
Every owner’s objectives will have some combination of lifestyle and legacy concerns. They don’t necessarily conflict, but they involve differing perspectives.
This article was originally published by John F. Dini, CBEC, CExP, CEPA on awakeat2oclock.com. John develops transition and succession strategies that allow business owners to exit their companies on their own schedule, with the proceeds they seek and complete control over the process. He takes a coaching approach to client engagements, focusing on helping owners of companies with $1M to $250M in revenue achieve both their desired lifestyles and legacies.