Business Planning Done Right

With Laurie Barkman, The Business Transition Sherpa(TM), and the former CEO of a $100 million revenue company that was sold to a Fortune 50. As a Business Transition and M&A Intermediary, Laurie advises owners on how to create more valuable businesses and find the right buyer when it’s time to let go. Her expertise in business transition, succession, entrepreneurship, value growth, and M&A has been spotlighted in various media like Newsweek, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, WTAE/abc and more.

She is an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University, where she earned her MBA from The Tepper School of Business and a Bachelor of Science degree. She is the author of “The Business Transition Handbook: How to Avoid Succession Pitfalls and Create Valuable Exit Options.” In addition, Laurie hosts the award-winning podcast, Succession Stories, which is rated in the top 2.5% of podcasts globally.

Join us in our conversation where Laurie covers practical aspects of business succession planning, exit strategies, and effective prioritization for ongoing success. Laurie provides insights into business transition planning, addressing common pitfalls and offering a buyer’s viewpoint on business valuation. From tailored Exit Planning options for clients of all sizes to navigating legal challenges during business scaling, Laurie discusses the challenges and opportunities faced by business owners as they build and prepare to sell a business.

You do not want to miss this opportunity to hear from Laurie on an essential topic for ALL business owners.

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Takeaways & quotes you don’t want to miss from this episode:

  • Why is it important for the business to have a written exit plan and communicate it with stakeholders?
  • The need for a contingency plan for the business owners in case of incapacitation or death.
  • Legacy Planning vs Estate Planning.
  • What are the legal challenges entrepreneurs face as they scale their businesses?
  • The practical and emotional aspects of transition.

“75% of business owners regret their succession planning decisions within a year of the sale.”

-Laurie Barkman

Check out these highlights:

  • 16:12 What are the three top-level categories of potential buyers for your business?
  • 22:13 Laurie shares some of the big lightbulb moments that her clients have.
  • 26:25 How to look at your businesses strategically and from the standpoint of a potential buyer so that you can better position your business for sale?
  • 37:49 How Laurie helps her clients explore the personal side of the transition?
  • 42:24 Laurie’s final takeaway.

How to get in touch with Laurie on Social Media:

You can also contact Laurie by visiting her website here

Special gift to the listeners: Get a FREE Business Transition Assessments here to help baseline where you are today.

Imperfect Show Notes

We are happy to offer these imperfect show notes to make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who prefer reading over listening. While we would love to offer more polished show notes, we are currently offering an automated transcription (which likely includes errors, but hopefully will still deliver great value), below:

GGGB Intro  00:00

Here’s what you get on today’s episode of Guts, Grit and Great Business®…

Laurie Barkman  00:04

Here’s a framework. Here are the things we need to think through. Let’s take our time, let’s come up with options. Let’s try to prioritize and really understand what’s important to you. Because we can have a plan in our head but then isn’t really a plan. I don’t think so if it’s not written down, it’s not communicated. And what ends up happening is it’s like that checklist of to do’s that you’d never get to and it just eats at you and it eats at you. And these things are important and not urgent until they become urgent and then it’s almost too late.

GGGB Intro  00:36

The adventure of entrepreneurship and building a life and business you love, preferably at the same time is not for the faint of heart. That’s why Heather Pearce Campbell is bringing you a dose of guts, grit and great business stories that will inspire and motivate you to create what you want in your business and life. Welcome to the Guts, Grit and Great Business® podcast where endurance is required. Now, here’s your host, The Legal Website Warrior®, Heather Pearce Campbell.

Heather Pearce Campbell  01:04

Alrighty, welcome. I’m Heather Pearce Campbell, The Legal Website Warrior®. I’m an attorney and legal coach based in Seattle, Washington, serving online information entrepreneurs throughout the US and the world. Welcome to another episode of Guts, Grit and Great Business®. We have a returning guest today who I’m super excited to bring back. Welcome to Laurie Barkman. Hi, Laurie.

Laurie Barkman  01:30

Hi, Heather. It is awesome to be back. You have such a great show. I love your energy. And thank you so much for having me back on.

Heather Pearce Campbell  01:38

Oh my gosh. Well, this is gonna be fun. We’re bringing you back for a couple of things one, and for folks that are listening. We’re going to share in the show notes episode number one with Laurie which is not actually episode number. I said that and I realized, oh no our first episode together but not number one. And we talked about some really fun things in that conversation. And Laurie has a wealth of information. So for those of you that don’t know Laurie, Laurie Barkman is a Business Transition Sherpa, working with business owners from transition to transaction. I love that phrase. She advises how to maximize the value of your company and guides you through the complex process of letting go. Laurie works with clients to plan a lucrative exit on your terms. Her extensive experience as an executive and certified mergers and acquisitions advisor allows her to understand all aspects of your company and provide the best guidance for a successful exit in business transition. She’s the host of the award winning succession stories podcast and the author of the Amazon bestselling book, “The Business Transition Handbook: How to Avoid Succession Regrets and Create Valuable Exit Options”. So writing a book is a pretty big deal. I remember when we connected I can’t remember what it was. And you’re like, oh, by the way, did you know I wrote my book. And I was like, wow, wow. And you had a lot of other things going on in your life. And so that feels like a huge accomplishment.

Laurie Barkman  03:15

Thank you. Thank you. It was a lot of work.

Heather Pearce Campbell  03:18

I bet how I mean, I’m sure that was years in the making, right? Usually, by the time you’re actually you’re writing a book, you’ve been thinking about it for a long time.

Laurie Barkman  03:27

When I launched the podcast three years ago, I didn’t know that I was gonna write a book, I frankly didn’t even know I was gonna have a podcast. So sometimes, we step into something and then we step into something else. And it was like a staircase for me. Because after, let’s say, I think the 100th episode of the show, I realized, oh my goodness, this body of work. There’s so much here. And the show is an evergreen show, you can listen a year from now two years from now this content will be evergreen. And that’s when I started to get the idea of what if I put these stories into a book, and not just stories, but how do we make it actionable? And that’s why I was very thoughtful about what do I name it? It’s not just stories and storytelling, it’s part of it because we learned from other people’s examples of what went well, what didn’t go well, and makes a difference for people when it feels practical, like oh, that happened to Joe or that happened to Mary. I don’t want that to happen to me. We can relate to that. We can envision it, but then it’s like, wait, what do I do? So each chapter I wrote as a pitfall, you know, each chapter, this is something you want to avoid. You don’t want this to happen to you. But then when you read it, it’s what do we learn? What are some stories we can maybe relate to? And then at the end of every chapter is a summary of key takeaways, and some note taking space. And that’s the premise of where you asked how long it took. It took a little longer than I would have liked because I ended up midway not like What I had, and I stopped myself in the tracks, and I said, Wait a minute, I’m not liking where this is headed. I’m gonna if I’m the reader, I gotta be the reader. How do I put myself in the reader shoes? And that’s when I really thought about what do they most trying to do? They’re trying to avoid pitfalls or trying to avoid that mistake someone else made. And at the same time, they’re trying to do something positive, and what is it that they can do to maximize value? So that’s why I took both perspectives in the book. Hmm.

Heather Pearce Campbell  05:29

Laurie, I have to say, and I know, before we went live, I was telling you that I listened to another episode of your podcast yesterday. And so for folks that are listening, I highly recommend you hop over to Laurie’s podcast Succession Stories, the thing I think that’s so powerful, not only about podcast, but even about your concept for the book of after creating 100 episodes of your podcast realizing like, oh, my gosh, you’ve got to turn this into a book is that the stories really are so powerful, and they really helped bring some of the concepts that you work with, you know, everyday in your work to life. And I think for a lot of people in the business world, while you live in the business succession, space weather. I know you’ve done a lot of merger and acquisition work, and helping business owners plan for what that endpoint looks like, most business owners don’t live in that space. Right? You, you have some guests who do quite a bit in that space, but I think a lot of businesses, and particularly depending on the size of business, they may go through that period of time in their business, you know, once or twice in their lifetime, depending on the businesses that they’re building.

Laurie Barkman  06:48

Absolutely. You know, first of all, it can be very lonely thinking about these things on your own. And I find that just the sounding board, that somebody like myself can be is, number one, just having somebody who can say, here’s a framework, here are the things we need to think through. Let’s take our time, let’s come up with options. Let’s try to prioritize and really understand what’s important to you. Because we can have a plan in our head. But then is it really a plan? I don’t think so. If it’s not written down, it’s not communicated. And what ends up happening is it’s like that checklist of to do’s that you’d never get to, and it just eats at you and it eats at you. And these things are important, and not urgent, until they become urgent, and then it’s almost too late. And one of my clients said to me, you know, Laurie, working on my exit plan has been harder than building my business. And I can appreciate that there’s a lot of truth to that. And I think a lot of people are, it’s almost like this taboo thing like, oh, I can’t talk about my retirement, or I can’t talk about maybe wanting to sell, right, it feels like a taboo topic, we’re really shouldn’t be. I had I had a gentleman come on my show. And he has a podcast. So he’s very used to talk in audiences. So it was great from that perspective. But he wasn’t outing himself he had communicated that he intended to retire in three years, his part business partners knew his employees knew. And now coming on my show, the audience is going to know as well. And he was excited to talk about it. And I thought, Wow, what a breath of fresh air. He’s probably the first person who’s come on my show, and almost 130 episodes, who is looking forward, most folks come on my show, and they look backward. So I actually as a side note, I think it’s an opportunity for me as a show host to try to get more people to talk about, maybe not, it’s things that are personal that they don’t want to but more like maybe what legacy are we creating, you know, what’s important to us? And those are things that we can think about as a foundational piece, and really building from there. So I love talking to people about what’s happened in the past. But really, the value comes when we’re able to develop a plan and think ahead.

Heather Pearce Campbell  09:05

Yeah, yeah, well, and you said something in your conversation with Ben Rizzo on your podcast that, you know, is something that I’ve said repeatedly to clients about, especially business collaborations, right, like you think of the joint venture space. And a lot of my clients are doing kind of smaller project based joint ventures. And when I say smaller, just meaning that they’re not creating a whole new business entity around this joint venture, they’re collaborating for a short period of time to experiment with a new idea, right? And I tell all of them, like, look, this will come to an end in one way or another. And just like in marriage, unfortunately, when we jump into these collaborations or into these partnerships, or you know, even into a business, we often are not starting it with the end in mind. 

Laurie Barkman  09:55

No, we’re not. It’s hard to think about the end in mind. There’s a great book by John Wick orlo called Built to Sell. And there are definitely people out there who build a company with the intention of selling it. There’s some wonderful examples of that. But most people build a business just they kind of want to see where it’s gonna go, they don’t really know. And it takes different tangents and things ebb and flow over the years also based on market dynamics, competitive factors, and personal interest. But I think one of the things that I like to advocate for for companies that are more mature, which I’ll characterize as 10 years, you know, a company that’s been well established for 10 years, not startups, you know, not under five years. But really, even we could say, five to 10, just started to become a more mature company, if they’re a larger company, by revenue, measure or employee count for other, if that’s how they look at it. But really, revenue is another barometer, where the larger we are, the more complex we are, the probably the likelihood that you really need that owner, to sustain the business. It’s like an inverse proportion, right? The longer this company has been around, the more people we have on our team, the larger, the more revenue we have, let’s say 10 million or more than a buyer, if a buyer is interested in it, they may have more confidence that this business can continue and thrive and grow without the owner if the owner is no longer there. And why wouldn’t the owner be there? Well, maybe they want to retire, maybe they want to just completely do something else. And so the more that we can begin with that end in mind of I’m going to build a business that’s transferable, that’s attractive to a third party or to related parties. And transferable, you know, the transferability is a big part of it. And let’s face it, every business owner is going to leave their company one day. The question is, is are you ready? And for most owners, that honest answer’s no.

Heather Pearce Campbell  11:54

Yeah, well, it’s a little bit like estate planning, right? For your personal side, like I am always shocked at the number of people in the business process that I talked to, even though I don’t do estate planning, I talk to about that piece. And I’m always so surprised when somebody’s in even their late 40s or 50s. And they’re just now getting to the estate planning piece.

Laurie Barkman  12:21

Good analogy. It’s a good analogy. Estate planning feels scary. Yeah. But if we think about it as legacy planning, maybe it feels less scary. I’m going to take this asset, and I’m going to divide it up. And then here’s my errors. And oh, my gosh, I got to decide who’s getting what, right, who wants to think that way. But if it’s like, oh, this is the legacy I’m leaving for my family, my employees, my community causes I care about the business should be part of that I have a client, I’ve had to work pretty hard to convince her that having a contingency plan for the business makes good business sense today, regardless of whether she intends to sell in five years or not. It just is the prudent thing. She is a sole owner. She’s divorced, she has two kids, the two kids really probably aren’t the right people to own the company. And if they do own it together, 50-50. What would potentially happen to that business? And I was quite honest with her, and I said, most likely, it’ll put it into a tailspin. Yeah. Do you really want that when you care so much about your people? That’s number one thing, she always tells me, I care so much about my people. But if you do, why wouldn’t you have an emergency plan in place? If something happens to you? Let’s get that in place. And by the way, yes. Let’s also we’re not going to not do this. We’re also going to work on what’s your plan for exit. If you do want to sell to a third party, we’re also going to work on that. But in the meantime, we cannot control things that we can’t control. Right, right. And it’s right, we don’t want to have a situation. Hear about it way too often, where people really didn’t plan for the worst. And the worst does happen.

Heather Pearce Campbell  13:59

Yeah, well, and that’s a that’s a great example. And I actually want to dig into it a little bit further. But first, the interesting thing about this whole, you know, estate planning, business exit Planning, like it can be uncomfortable for people to think about that. And yet we already in life are making all kinds of decisions that are along the same vein, right? Insurance, I mean, even legal protections, right, you are taking steps to prepare for the worst or to protect against the worst. And it’s like people have, I think, much less of a hard time with the insurance conversation or with other conversations that are actually really similar. And so, you know, I just want to remind people like we’re already making some tough decisions that are thinking about you know, contingencies and things that could happen and just you know, the conversation with Laurie today about Business Exit Planning, Business Succession planning, and even legal stuff is, you know, just taking a wider more holistic view of that part of your planning. And I’d love for you, Laurie even in the example that you just gave, because I think for people, let’s let’s pretend that we’re talking to somebody today who hasn’t yet had this conversation or hasn’t considered their options, could you walk us through kind of an array of options that you have seen or helped come to fruition? With your clients, ranging from somebody like a sole proprietor or somebody leading, you know, let’s call it a small team, a small business, all the way up through, you know what it looks like for more established companies and slightly larger businesses store?

Laurie Barkman  15:45

Let’s take it from the standpoint of one of my favorite chapters in the book, which is who should own the business after you? Because as we said, every business owner is going to leave their company one day, right? Yep. So if we frame it that way, and we realize, oh, yeah, okay, if we want our company to continue forward, it would be interesting to figure out who might be the best fit. So let me talk about it from the kind of the top level categories, and then we can work backwards. The top level categories are, and there’s three of them, strategic buyers, financial buyers, and related buyers. strategics are companies, these could be competitors to you, they could be vendors of yours, they could be partners, you know, business partners, like entity wise, if you’re partnered with an entity there, folks that are generally in your industry, maybe it may be companies that you know already, or maybe not, they could be a lot larger than you like tons larger than you, or maybe five times larger than you at a minimum in terms of revenue might be one way to look at it. So that’s the first category, which is strategics. The second category are financial buyers, financial buyers, we most often hear about our private equity firms, and private equity firms raise capital, and then they make investment decisions and into their portfolio, they may choose to buy a standalone entity and run it as a standalone entity, or they might look to get a smaller one and tuck it in underneath that. So kind of like the mothership and these little satellites. And that matters when we think about strategic fit. And in terms of what may happen to your business after the sale. So we’ll put a pin in that one for now. And then the other financial buyer that I want to mention, actually, there’s two, one is a maybe classification you haven’t heard of which is a family office, there are maybe 30,000 family offices in the United States that’s managing over $3 trillion. And it’s quite significant number. And, and a percentage of those family offices are looking to do investing. And a significant difference between a family office and a private equity firm is the time horizon for holding the asset. The private equity firms tend to have a grow and sell five to seven years timeline. Family Offices tend to have a buy and hold, right because they’re investing for the family. They’re investing for the long haul. Yep. So that’s a really key difference. And then the third category that I’ll mention because of your your question originally, which is kind of lending itself to size of company, there are acquisition entrepreneurs out there who are maybe they’re funded in a search fund through other investors, or they’re self funded. And they’re looking to borrow money from a bank, SBA loan or conventional loan, and they want to buy an existing business rather than start one from scratch. So these are independent acquisition entrepreneurs, and they might be best fit for other types of businesses. So we could just talk about that as a category. And then the third bucket is related parties, you know, related buyers, and related could be literally related, because they’re family, they could be partners, they could be management. And one of the key characteristics of this category is that they know where the bodies are buried. They know the business pretty well. You know, they’re insiders, most likely, you know, they’re very interested in the business because they’re already part of it. And if we think kind of in this left to right, as I’ve described them, in general, not going to say it’s always this way, but in general, it goes from a kind of typically the highest multiple to the lower multiple left to right, so strategics the highest in some general sense I’ll generalize here is financials are second and then the related parties are third.

Heather Pearce Campbell  16:58

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Heather Pearce Campbell  21:31

Well, that’s a awesome breakdown of kind of the landscape in this world. I mean, I think that probably people listening have like understood or maybe even heard about, like some element of this picture, but not all of it. Right. So it’s fun to hear you walk through the options. What do you find when you’re working with your clients? And I’m sure it depends on the business depends on, you know, their expertise, their kind of sophistication levels, but what do you find to be some of the big lightbulb moments that your clients have is you’re walking them through the process of considering their options.

Laurie Barkman  22:13

One of them is around price. And a light bulb moment comes when we are just off from the market, the owner has a price in mind that the market does not. And that is one lightbulb. When we have more time on our side to affect change. That’s good. Otherwise, we’re in a situation where we need to make another decision, right? If we pull the business off the market and say we’re not selling for that price, we would rather you know, liquidate and close down on the assets.

Heather Pearce Campbell  22:46

And how often do you see that happening where people are like, Ooh, they’re kind of astounded at, you know, the discrepancy between their idea of what they thought could happen and what the market says can happen. 

Laurie Barkman  22:57

It happens a lot, it does happen a lot. It happens more than we think. And it’s hard to know exactly percentage wise, but there are some statistics out there. And for the companies in the lower middle market. And we may have a lot of folks that fit into that category that are listening today, whose businesses are under, you know, under 5 million revenue, under 4 million in revenue, or under a million in revenue, you know, this really, really smaller end of the market, they could be more owner dependent businesses, they may have loyal employees who have been with them a long time. But then the bad news there is that they’re on the same retirement schedule that you are. Yeah, and that’s a situation that I’ve seen. So the team is essentially dissolving. The other situation is when we hear anecdotes in our industry of what our company should sell for. And then we don’t get that multiple, and then we’re disappointed. So we decided to hold the asset and continue to grow it, which isn’t a bad thing again, because if you have time on your side, you can do that. If you’re up against the time clock for your retirement, then that’s when you might start to think about the dissolution of a company and shutting it down. You know, just to beat the horse, it’s really about starting early so that you have more time to affect change this one particular client of mine was in the situation of not getting the offers that they would have liked. And they decided to take the company off the market. They have spent this year really trying to grow and improve not only revenue, but profit. I’ve had big conversations with them about that they’ve adjusted pricing, they’re trying to put some recurring revenue models in place. They had some margin opportunity. And I think by working with me, it was like an added benefit that they they learned that for them. The downside for me is we didn’t get to a sale, but I’m hopeful that they will become a client again, and then when they’re ready to come back to the market a second time, their financials are going to be even stronger. So they’re a good example of even though there’s two partners, father, son, the father wants to retire, the son doesn’t want to own the business, he wants to sell it. But the father was willing to stay on another year to work with his son and get the business to where they think it should be worth. So we’ll see, here’s what I always tell people about this lightbulb, you asked me, you know, buyers buy on their own time. Now your time, but their time. And the other thing is for privately held companies, there’s an infinite number of ways to value a business. So what only matters is what the buyers think, and how can we look at our businesses from a buyers point of view, that’s how I encourage our clients. 

Heather Pearce Campbell  25:37

This is so interesting, because what it raises for me is also something that your guest in the episode that I listened to yesterday said about small businesses in particular. And I think this also relates to how you value a business is also there’s like, a probably a gazillion different ways that small businesses handle their books and their accounting, right. Even though there are some standards, the ways that small businesses account for certain things can vary, quite significantly. I’m curious if you can dig into this a little bit this perspective of how do we look at our businesses from the standpoint of a buyer, obviously, as a strategy for improving how our businesses are positioned? 

Laurie Barkman  26:24

Yeah, the buyers are looking for objective ways to understand the potential value to them. So at a simple level, what pain points do you solve for them? Strategy wise, you know, strategic fit. But really, when they’re getting to know you, they’re gonna start there, they’re probably have been watching you for years, if it’s a competitor, they probably know your strategic fit, they’ve given some thought to that. So what they don’t know about you is what they want to learn. And that starts with your financials, if your books are a mess, that’s where you really need to focus. So what do I mean, you can have QuickBooks, there’s no problem and having an online bookkeeping, you know, tool like like QuickBooks, big fan, the main thing is to be consistent. So if you change a category expense category, this year, we’ll go back in the past and make sure it all lines up, you’ll thank me when it’s time to run your financial summaries, because everything will be lined up in the right buckets. The other big opportunity for owners, especially if you’re running some expenses, personal expenses through your business, for tax reasons, I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t do that, I’m just saying, make sure you are clear and the accounting of it. Because when we look to normalize your financial statements, to understand kind of a truer picture of EBIT, the earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation, if the owners are no longer in the business, what expenses would be removed, if they’re all buried kind of three layers deep, we don’t really have an easy way to pull out and, and showcase that, hey, these are what’s called add backs. And that was add backs of expenses, make sure if it’s a number go up. And for every dollar, if your company is valued at three times EBIT for every dollar and expenses, maybe you’re saving 30 cents on taxes, but you might be losing out on $3 and value. So I just want everybody to give that some thought. One example is I have a client that is doing residential construction. So he built a barn and he has Landscape Services, he has snow plow services, but all those costs were buried in the business. And now what he’s done is he’s set up different accounts. And he has a credit card that is for owner expenses. So it’s really easy to track. And that’s the main point, I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m just saying make sure you account for it. And one of the other things to consider, and I do point this out in my book is if your firm is having a third party review of some sort, there’s good, better best. And of course, it’s more time and money with each of those options to work with a tax or accounting firm to do reviewed financials. And the best is an audited financials. But that’s a lot. You know, for some companies cost wise, it’s prohibitive and takes a lot more time reviewed financials is really interesting. And I advocate for that with smaller companies, because the cost isn’t very high, it should be less than 7k. And you can ask your tax preparation firm to do it around, you let them know that you’d like to have it done. And maybe they give you a deal with taxes, you know, they do it around the same time. And what you get is third party memo that’s basically saying, you know, we’ve reviewed the financials and so on. And it’s just one more thing, one more layer to help the buyers understand that you have the viable business.

Heather Pearce Campbell  29:41

Mm hmm. And it sounds like I mean, and I would think that you’re doing that particular piece at the phase where you are starting to really lean into kind of finding kind of the next owner for your business. Am I wrong in that? I mean for smaller businesses, let’s be… To clear that, mostly I’m talking about smaller businesses who are a fit for that reviewed financial scenario. But regardless of the size of your company, it sounds like at the point that you’re beginning to really lean into the transition or planning for that, it’s, you’re probably hiring quite a bit of outside help right to get your house in order, whether it’s working with somebody like you to help guide that process, whether you’re starting with a CPA to help get books all in order, can you also help us understand what what type of support is out there. And I know like for your one client that you mentioned, the father son duo, like sounds like they’re probably hiring folks to help increase profitability or look at additional strategies to help them in that last year or two before, you know, selling if they can maximize their, their value in that time. 

Laurie Barkman  30:56

And that case, for that particular client, they’re hiring staff so that they can, they can, they’re a services business, okay, they’ve been investing their their resources and staff. And that’s one way that they’ve been growing. I would say, generally speaking, from an advisory standpoint, I talked about it as a boat, you know, who’s your business owner advisory team. And I think when you are five years away or less from a transition, that sounds like a long time, but in practicality, it isn’t. And I just want the listeners to think about that, if you’re 10 years out, and you think, Oh, that’s so far out, I’m not going to work on this, I would say to you, look, you have the benefit of time, the best time to get started is today or yesterday. The Second best is today, and who you may want to work with somebody like me is going to be a coach for you. To help you understand and baseline where’s your business? Today, we’re going to take a look at what goals you have financially, for the business and for you personally. And we’re going to set a plan for how to get there. And there’s a number of things we need to do, some things just take a lot longer than you expect them to. And it’s just life, you know, it’s just life. And especially when you’re working with other other parties, whether they’re legal advisors, tax advisers, there can be a lot of moving parts. So one of the value that I find, being kind of a quarterback in all of this is having a framework presenting a framework, but then also being able to have that bat phone Rolodex where I can pull people into the process, if it’s contingency planning, and we need to talk with an insurance specialist. And if it’s m&a attorney, when the time is right to pull them in once the tax advisor when it’s a financial planning, it really takes a village. I mean, there’s a lot of advisors that are important. When we’re on the value building and value creation side, it’s the advisors that help us understand what are the value, what assets are a value today, whether it’s IP, you know, Heather, and I know you work with clients to help them secure, you know, secure rights and trademarks, and etc. Like, what can we be building? In terms of our asset list? And how do we think about that strategically, folks, like me are gonna say, Okay, well, let’s begin with the end in mind, how do we look forward to who might be the right type of buyer for your business? How do we understand the market dynamics of what value drivers are most important to them? And now let’s work backwards and say, okay, the market segment that you want to sell to, or this particular type of strategic is really looking for XYZ for you have abc. So either you’re going to pivot, you’re going to acquire a company that has that, you know, what’s your strategy? With enough time and resources, we can affect change? If not, we’re staying out we’re staying the course. And we’re saying, Well, this is the path we’re on. And, and this is what we’re going to do for either organic growth, which is are things that we can control in our own four walls, virtual walls, or the acquisitive growth, which is we’re going to be acquiring companies and integrating them into our business so that we can get a creative growth. And all of those things obviously take time.

Heather Pearce Campbell  34:07

Oh, totally. The thing that to me sounds fun about what you do. And for people that get to work with somebody like you is, it sounds like it’s actually a pathway, ironically, for building a better business.

Laurie Barkman  34:26

It has, yeah, there’s nothing that we’re gonna do or talk about that isn’t going to make your business more valuable, attractive and more fun to run. You know, that’s the thing. It’s like, it’s transition planning. I don’t say it’s Exit Planning. It’s transition planning for transition of what is transition of ownership is transition and management. Eventually, it’s your transition for you personally. And there’s a lot to the word transition. There’s a movement, you know, it’s a movement from here to there. And it is fun. I find that every client is different. There are certainly patterns and things to look forward watch outs and all of that But every company is different and unique. And that’s a puzzle for me too, together. And I really do love those aha moments when business owners go, Oh, yeah. Okay. That’s cool. I get it now. Yeah. And I tend to have that effect on people. So now it’s really a joy, I get a lot of pride out of others succeeding and being part of their success.

Heather Pearce Campbell  35:27

Well, I personally am looking forward to reading your book. And for folks listening, we are going to share Lori’s book, which I can tell already is a wealth of information, including through do you feature guest stories in your book, Laurie?

Laurie Barkman  35:42

Oh, yeah, I do. I have lots of stories that what’s I think that’s what makes the book come alive. People have told me that they feel like I’m talking, you know, with them when they read it. You know, it’s like my podcast in a book form. But there’s a workbook style too. And I should mention, I don’t know if I told you this off air. But I have a free digital accompaniment to the book. So if you want to print out literally all of the exercises, in the book, I created a PDF that you can download from my website.

Heather Pearce Campbell  36:13

Oh, I love that, we will definitely share the link to that. I’m assuming that’s an opt in and helps you build your your database, Laurie. But. 

Laurie Barkman  36:24

Yeah, and it’s wonderful, because then I know a little bit more about my readers. But you know, a lot of people like to get the Kindle version, which is, which is awesome. But on the Kindle, you can’t mark it up. And I want you to mark it up, I want you to bend the corners and get your highlighter and you know, make your notes.

Heather Pearce Campbell  36:39

Totally, oh my gosh, well, if you’re listening, I want you to pop over to the show notes page, we are going to share the link over to Laurie’s book, which you can find on Amazon called “The Business Transition Handbook: How to Avoid Succession Pitfalls and Create Valuable Exit Options”. We’ll share the link also to your PDF. There is before and I want to be respectful of your time, but I realize we’re right up against the top of the hour. On the personal side, can you share because, you know, we’ve been talking primarily about the business stuff and some of the logistics and things that people really need to look at. And you’ve shared a lot in a short period of time. And I love this. And my mind is like what do you find in that process of helping people explore the personal side of this conversation? And I assume part of that is like personal legacy and life choices and all of that. But is that an interesting? Like, I don’t even know how to describe it kind of like swampy curious place to go with people. What do you find in that process?

Laurie Barkman  37:49

I definitely think it’s a slippery slope. Yeah, and it’s definitely emotional. I think it’s a lot about regrets. And when it comes to regrets, we regret the things that we did, or we regret the things we didn’t do. And what I’m trying to do and serve business owners is help them make the good choices on things to do. And then also help them by taking action. And not saying oh, I should have, you know, I should have done that. And Wayne Gretzky, you know, hockey great Wayne Gretzky would say you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. And to me, that’s about missed opportunity. And that’s the mission of the book. That’s the mission of what I do as a Business Transition Sherpa. That’s the mission of me working with business owners, you know, through transition through transaction. And as you alluded to this emotional side of letting go, it’s definitely the practical and the financial and all of that. But there’s a personal transition, we have to acknowledge because 75% of business owners do express express regret, one year after the sale, and I just did a whole webinar on this today. Actually, I have a whole presentation on it. Yeah, we can talk about that for at length, but it’s to me It boils down to regret and how do we work so that we can avoid these succession regrets?

Heather Pearce Campbell  39:24

Wow, that’s a high number when you’re after the sale it what it reminds me of I heard it’s terrible statistic actually about the legal world and the percentage of judges who pass away within one to two years of retirement. Yeah. And you know, what it calls to mind is the personal work that we have around really separating our purpose in life from our work.

Laurie Barkman  39:48

Yeah. Yeah, for sure. No question. Like no questions.

Heather Pearce Campbell  39:51

so tied up and you know, and as an entrepreneur, I think that’s a challenge so many of us that what’s driving us in our work is really true, really attached to our heart something that we love something that we care a lot about, not everybody. Some people build a business because it’s purely financial and they love that. But it’s, I think for a lot of people, what they’re willing to put their life’s work into, has a lot of meaning for them. And so that’s a difficult thing to do to separate out kind of purpose and life mission from business and work. 

Laurie Barkman  40:26

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. No doubt, no doubt.

Heather Pearce Campbell  40:28

Well, I’m curious, that presentation that you gave, is it something that’s accessible? Or is it is it private somewhere? 

Laurie Barkman  40:35

It is on the Stony Hill Advisors YouTube channel?

Heather Pearce Campbell  40:40

Oh, maybe that’s something that we can share as well in the show notes. Yeah. 

Laurie Barkman  40:45

I can link I, I can’t say for sure if it’s going to be in my YouTube channel, but I think if they Google it, look for me, Stony Hill Advisors, how to avoid exit regrets is the discussion.

Heather Pearce Campbell  40:57

I love it. Okay. We’ll try to find that and pop that. 

Laurie Barkman  41:01

I’ll probably do that webinar again. So it’ll be out there. Yeah. Awesome.

Heather Pearce Campbell  41:05

I love it. Well, that sounds like a really, really important topic that people need to deeply consider as they’re thinking about this process and approaching the process and kind of getting their mind around it in the right way. Laurie, I so appreciate you I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. And if you’re listening, we are also going to share the link over to my first conversation on Guts, Grit and Great Business® with Laurie, which was episode number 119. So probably 50,60 episodes ago, but about a year. Laurie, look at us about a year. Oh my gosh, look at us.

Laurie Barkman  41:44

I know. And you’re coming on my show, which I’m super excited about. Excellent.

Heather Pearce Campbell  41:49

And we will share a link over to your show as well succession stories. So I highly recommend that you pop over follow Laurie, follow her podcast. Laurie, we’ve covered a lot already. But I have to ask you the final question, which is, is there any final thought or takeaway or action step you would like to leave our listeners with?

Laurie Barkman  42:13

Yeah, I just I want everybody to have an intention. You know, if you listened to today’s show, and there was something that inspired you don’t just say, oh, yeah, that was interesting, do something, I want everyone to do something. So I do have an offer of how to do that, which is to help baseline where you are today. And on my website, there’s two assessments. One is for a business assessment, which helps us understand where your business is at. And then the other one is more of a personal readiness for a transition. So you’re welcome to take both, and you’re welcome to take one. But I do encourage you to do something, even if it’s by the book, hey, that’s a start listening to this episode as a start, of course, as well. But please do have an intention, please do take an action. And if you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, you want to reach out and talk with me, you know, happy to have a conversation. Excellent.

Heather Pearce Campbell  43:05

Well, you’re so generous. Laurie, this is a really important topic. I can tell how much you care about it and how much experience you have in walking people through what can be a challenging process. So but like you said, it really is about helping people not miss opportunities. And so if you’re listening, take some action decide today what you’re going to do, go hop over and visit the show notes page so that you can check out Laurie’s various resources. We’ve mentioned many of them. In today’s episode, we’ll be sure to list those all out in separate links. You can find those at look for Laurie Barkman’s episode, and share this with somebody who you think is walking this journey and probably needs to have access to the same resources, the same conversation and really start to consider their options when it comes to their business succession planning. Laurie, I so appreciate you I really look forward to being in touch and I will follow up as well once I read your book. Appreciate you.

Laurie Barkman  44:07

Thank you, Heather, thank you so much for having me.

GGGB Outro  44:11

Thank you for joining us today on the Guts, Grit and Great Business® podcast. We hope that we’ve added a little fuel to your tank, some coffee to your cup and pep in your step to keep you moving forward in your own great adventures. For key takeaways, links to any resources mentioned in today’s show and more, see the show notes which can be found at Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and if you enjoyed today’s conversation, please give us some stars and a review on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast so others will find us too. Keep up the great work you are doing in the world and we’ll see you next week.