Navigating Emotional Challenges in Exit Planning
Chasing The American Dream
The United States has always been known as the land of opportunity and new beginnings. For many, families moved to the United States with limited resources and built their own businesses from the ground up. As families grew, family-owned businesses grew with them, establishing community ties and contributing to the economy.
The American economy is largely supported by family businesses, generating over 78% of jobs and contributing to 58% of the country’s GDP (Hiebert, PhD, CFP). But, what happens when a family business owner can no longer run his or her business at its maximum potential?
What can you do as a business advisor to convince your potential clients that implementing an Exit Plan benefits both the business and their family?
This blog post explores a study published by Daniel Hiebert, PhD, CFP which focused on emotional and psychological factors that contribute to Exit Planning challenges in family businesses, and highlights the importance of involving experienced Exit Planners to ensure successful transitions between families and their businesses. To read the full article, click here: Emotional Attachment and Decision by Family Business-Owners to Seek Help From a Succession Planner.
The Emotional Component: Letting Go of the Business
One significant factor compounding the problem of transition failure lies in the emotional and psychological attachment of business owners to their enterprises. Many owners find it difficult to let go, neglecting the necessary planning for a successful transfer.
In many cases, the relationship between an owner and their business becomes quite similar to a relationship between a parent and their child. Similarly to a parent nurturing their child up until adulthood, owners often build their firms from a blank slate.
When it comes time for a parent to send their child to college or into the next chapter of life, attachment anxieties arise. The same argument can be made for owners and their businesses as they grow anxious about a business transfer.
Furthermore, family relationships intertwine with business management and ownership issues, creating a complex web of emotions and goals that can hinder the planning process and further estate planning. The business becomes intertwined with the individual's identity, making it harder to separate personal and professional aspirations.
Overcoming Emotional Barriers: The Role of Exit Planners
To address the emotional challenges associated with Exit Planning, family business owners must seek the guidance of experienced Exit Planners. These professionals possess a comprehensive understanding of both financial planning along with non-financial goals, allowing them to guide owners through the transition process.
Research from the article suggests that emotionally attached owners are less likely to seek help from planners, even though their businesses stand to benefit the most from professional guidance.
Key Findings and Challenges:
Various factors contribute to the emotional struggle of letting go and the subsequent planning challenges in family businesses. We’ve highlighted some of these key obstacles below:
- Doubt in Successor's Ability: Owners may cling to their businesses due to a lack of confidence in their successors' capabilities to effectively run the company. The fear of potential failure can hinder the planning process. As an advisor, it is your job to facilitate the introduction of a well-equipped candidate. Check out our recent blog, Selecting the Best-Suited Successor to the Business Owner for tips and best practices!
- Family Relationship Turmoil: Turbulence within family relationships, conflicts, and disagreements can complicate the transfer of a family business. Emotional dynamics can overshadow logical decision-making, making it harder to plan for the future.
- Heirs Choosing Different Paths: When heirs pursue alternative careers or have no interest in continuing the family business, owners may face significant emotional turmoil. For owners who have counted on their child(ren) taking over when the time comes, whether for trust or legacy reasons, it can be disappointing to have to accept the reality of giving up the day to day work that has driven them for years. Owners may struggle to reconcile their desire to maintain the business with their heirs' divergent aspirations.
- Clinging to the Past vs. Embracing the Future: Family business owners who have witnessed their enterprise grow from humble beginnings often find it challenging to detach themselves emotionally from the business. They may view the company as a symbol of their journey, making it harder to embrace change and plan for the future.
The Role of the Exit Planner: An Opportunity to Overcome Emotional Attachments
Exit Planners have a unique opportunity to address the emotional challenges faced by family business owners. Advisors benefit from continuous involvement in the creation of Exit Plans. By understanding the owners' attachment to their businesses, planners can qualify potential clients based on their emotional readiness for succession planning.
As an advisor, this presents an opportunity to save time and resources, or work with that owner to overcome their attachment. Avoiding Exit Planning Mistakes can be challenging, check out that blog post for tips and resources to become indispensable!
Additionally, advisors can work with owners to help them overcome emotional barriers, encouraging them to shift their perspective from the past to the future. This approach not only supports successful business transfers but also presents an opportunity for Exit Planners to market their services effectively.
You can collaborate with your clients to strategize and plan for the future, providing them with insightful recommendations on how to effectively allocate their time and resources. Owners that gradually detach themselves from the business are able to see the big picture, facilitating a smoother business transition.
The Bottom Line
Emotional and psychological factors significantly impact Exit Planning in family businesses. Letting go of a business can be an emotional struggle for owners who have dedicated their lives to its growth and success. Owners often shy away from enlisting the help of experienced advisors the more emotionally attached they are to the business.
Conversely, failing to plan for the eventual exit from can result in loss of business value, resulting in adverse effects on the company culture and value, local economy, and ultimately the personal goals for the owner’s family.
However, involving experienced Exit Planners who understand the intricacies of family dynamics and possess the skills to address emotional challenges can pave the way for a successful transition. By overcoming emotional attachments and embracing the future, family businesses can secure their continuity, contribute to the economy, and preserve their cultural legacy.
5 Ways to Automate Your Marketing Engine
As a business advisor, you understand the importance of reaching out to your target audience in a consistent and effective manner. But with so many responsibilities and tasks on your plate, it can be difficult to keep up with your marketing efforts.
That’s where automating your marketing engine comes in. By streamlining your marketing process and utilizing the right tools and strategies, you can save time, improve your results, and spend more time delivering better outcomes to your clients. At BEI Exit Planning, we believe that the driving forces behind effective outreach start with the following:
- Have something good to say
- Say it well
- Say it often
- Say it to the right people
Automating your marketing engine can save you time and effort, allowing you to focus on delivering the best results to your clients. Let’s take a closer look at 5 key strategies for automating your marketing engine.
Invest in a CRM:
A customer relationship management (CRM) system is a valuable tool that can help you automate your marketing processes and improve your results. From lead generation to customer engagement, a CRM assists in streamlining your activities and improving relationships with your business-owner clients.
By investing in customer relationship management, you decide how to consolidate your customer data within a central database, enabling you to easily access, update, and analyze information about your clients. When choosing a CRM, look for a platform that fits your needs and aligns with your goals, and be sure to invest the time and resources necessary to properly implement and utilize it.
Not sure which platform is right for you? Check out Forbes’ recent article on the best CRM Platforms for Small Businesses.
Utilize Marketing Automation Tools:
Marketing automation tools can assist you in streamlining various marketing activities, such as creating and distributing email and social media content. With these tools, you can quickly and efficiently create high-quality content that aligns with your brand’s messaging and tone.You can also schedule your content ahead of time, ensuring that your message is delivered at the right time to your target audience, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversions.
Additionally, marketing automation tools allow you to track user behavior, enabling you to better understand their needs and preferences. This data can be used to personalize your marketing efforts, tailoring your messaging to your audience and boosting your conversion rates. Moreover, lead nurturing campaigns can be automated based on behavior data, allowing you to build stronger relationships with potential clients and ultimately increase sales.
Segment Your Target Market:
Segmenting your target market is a key strategy for ensuring that your marketing messages reach the right audience. Utilize a combination of demographic and psychographic information, such as age, income, and interests to better understand your target audience and deliver tailored messages that resonate. Automating your targeting efforts can yield superior outcomes with increased efficiency and efficacy.
Personalize Your Communication:
Personalizing your communication is another key strategy for automating your marketing engine. By automating your communication processes, you can ensure that you’re sending the right message, at the right time, to the right person.
With the BEI Marketing License, you’ll gain access to:
- Brandable Marketing Content & Client Reports
- Automated Content Distribution
- Networking and Workshop Resources
- Assessment & Discovery Tools
With these resources, you’ll be able to easily expand the reach of your brand and customize your message to bring in more clients.
Analyze Your Results:
The final step in automating your marketing engine is to analyze your results. By tracking your website traffic and other metrics like engagement rate, you can see which marketing strategies are working best, and identify areas for improvement. Use tools like Google Analytics to track your progress and optimize your efforts, and be sure to adjust your strategy as needed based on your findings.
In conclusion, automating your marketing engines can help you save time, improve your results, and deliver better outcomes for your business owner clients. By utilizing these five key strategies, you can maximize your efforts, streamline your processes, and achieve your marketing goals.
Start today and see the results for yourself! Ready to take the next step in your business advisory career? Click here to become the indispensable business advisor to your clients today and build your Exit Planning skill set!
From “Service Provider” to “Most Trusted Advisor”
The ultimate objective of an Exit Planning Advisor is to enable their business owner clients to shift their perspective of them from “service provider” to “most trusted advisor.” The key to earning this outlook is for advisors to constantly work to deepen the relationships with their clients.
After all, working with clients to create, modify, and implement an Exit Plan is far more than a one- time transaction and typically spans the course of several years. This long-time work relies on deliberate and impactful relationship building that drives client satisfaction and connection.
In a 2020 study on the future of client-advisor relationships conducted by The American International Group (AIG) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab, it was reported that the value of advice is evolving and increasing rapidly. This study of clients of financial professionals between ages 30 –75, revealed some key indicators required for client trust and satisfaction regarding their financial advisory relationships. These indicators go beyond an advisor's client list and portfolio performance. In this post, we will expand upon those factors in the scope of Exit Planning, to include:
Understanding Client’s Financial & Life Goals
Ability to Explain Things
With these in mind, Exit Planning Advisors can capitalize on their conversations to drive deeper connection and better highlight their value proposition to their clients.
Reference: The Future of Client-Advisor Relationships, AIGS & MIT Age Lab, 2020
Professional Exit Planning Expertise
As mentioned in last week’s blog post on referrals, clients typically buy-in to your services to solve a business problem or to seize an opportunity. Advisors would be stuck in a sticky situation if a client presented them with a business challenge without having enough information first to provide feedback to that challenge.
Since the exit path of the business owner is driven by their goals, advisors must have enough knowledge, or access to support, to work with owners to create a customized plan for their business, no matter what their chosen exit path. Once data is collected and challenges are identified, Exit Planning Advisors must be able to determine the gaps that exist between the owner’s current resources and those they will require to achieve their desired post-exit life. Having this ability to acknowledge gaps and share Exit Planning knowledge, which most business owners don’t have, will boost credibility and ultimately, strengthen these client-advisor relationships.
Understanding Client’s Financial & Life Goals
Presenting clients and prospects with expertise will only be well received if the time is taken to gather useful information about the business owner’s goals and resources – both regarding their professional and personal life. In a recent BEI podcast episode, “Creating a Partnership for Life,” it is discussed that the initial conversation with a prospect can be make-or-break in forming a relationship that leads to an Exit Planning client.
Some tips shared on the podcast were to spend a lot of time at the beginning, making the most of the initial Exit Planning conversation. Begin with asking positive questions about their business, particularly; how and why they got started, what is going well with the business, their involvement, what the business means to their family, etc. These questions often lead to more broad discussions about their personal aspirations and what is important to them and their family while they are still involved with the business, and after they plan to leave it. By avoiding jumping right into the challenges and concerns and instead asking about things that are easier for the business owner to talk about, it allows you to get to know them on a more personal level.
Good questions drive better and more in-depth Exit Planning conversations and showing genuine interest and curiosity about what they do paves the way for a deeper understanding of a client’s financial and personal life goals.
Ability to Explain Things with a Proven Process
At BEI, we believe in the power of a well-designed process. The typical Exit Plan takes 5-10 years to fully implement considering all the work that must be done following the initial conversation mentioned above. To maintain momentum over the duration of an Exit Planning relationship, advisors are encouraged to use a written plan. This plan maps out recommendations, roles and responsibilities of the business owner and other advisors, timelines, deadlines, and expected results, allowing an opportunity for a clearer understanding of the process.
Instilling a process will show clients the road between their pain points, the solutions that will solve them, and the way to achieve their post-exit life. Being able to provide stability, sound advice, and project management through the duration of the plan will show your clients that their needs are important to you and that you are there to make sure they are met.
Conclusion & Takeaways:
In a world that is automated in so many ways, constantly seeking more efficient ways to simplify transactions, there is still high value in personal aspects of relationships, especially conversation.
The ability to foster connections and lifelong partnerships can be just as much of a differentiator in the eyes of a client as your Exit Planning expertise can add to your practice. In order to create a partnership for life, remember a few key takeaways:
Gaining expertise in Exit Planning will help to build credibility in the eyes of the client.
Expand the conversation to include more genuine and personal topics to deliver more value to clients.
Take the time to explain the process to clients in every step so they view themselves as a partner in the Exit Planning process.
Re-imagine the long-term relationship with the client of the future by having an open mind and keeping your client’s relationship needs at the forefront.
Discover Tax Minimization Techniques
James Roberts - The Advantages of Having a CExP Designation
On this episode of What Advisors Need to Know, James Roberts discusses designing an internal transfer to key employees for family members, the advantages he has gained by obtaining the Certified Exit Planner designation, and how Exit Planning has increased his client referrals and turned his competitors into potential clients. James has a true passion to help business owners maximize their value, mitigate their risks and minimize their taxes paid.