Joe Markovitch is a Senior Business Advisor, BEI Licensed Exit Planner, and Co-founder of Solly’s Bagelry. Joe has more than 30 years of SME business experience in the Vancouver market. Joe’s personal business exit experience and the exit stories of many former SME business owners motivated his interest to learn more, and then guide owners to a better way of exiting their business.
Joe’s business owner experience, professional coaching practice and training certification make Joe a uniquely qualified and valuable source for information on this subject. Joe has also been a Business Instructor at Vancouver Community College for more than 10 years.
BEI: Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your practice, and how you got involved in the Exit Planning space?
For many years, I started and owned my own bakery business here in Vancouver, which is still in operation today after 28 years. After I sold my business, I gravitated into doing business advisory work because I had a lot of knowledge I wanted to share with other business owners from my own experience operating, selling, and transitioning out of business. Business hindsight is a valuable teacher. If only I had known then what I know now!
In 2016, I joined an advisory firm in Vancouver called Wardell International. I've been working with them for almost six years, helping business owners structure and systemize their businesses so that they can scale appropriately. I have found it to be extremely rewarding, but realized we only take our clients to a certain point. I felt like many of these business owners needed additional support with planning for their exit from their business. When I realized this gap and the need for Exit Planning services, I started learning about and incorporating Exit Planning into my core practice offerings.
I heard repeatedly from business owners that they were just not ready to exit. Many of them overestimated what they thought their business was worth, and many did not understand anything about transferable business value. Many business owners were unaware of what buyers were willing to pay for their business and did not have a clear understanding of what the value drivers were in their businesses that attracted prospective buyers. Many owners have the misconception that they can just find a buyer and sell. There is so much work that needs to be done just to prepare for a sale, not only from the business perspective, but also getting the owner emotionally ready for the sale, which is a very overlooked, yet vital step in the transition process.
I left my own company 13 years ago now, but that transition was a very profound experience for me personally after I spent 15 years starting something from scratch and building it up.
There is a lot to learn about the Exit Planning process, which I realized when I went through the experience myself. As I hoped to help others do the same, I decided to pursue training with BEI and really wanted to understand the holistic process.
One thing I love about the Exit Planning industry is the collaborative nature of it, which was very refreshing to me. These advisors are working together as opposed to competing. I thought that was an innovative approach. It makes the process run a lot smoother when advisors can work together. There is a synergy that happens that can generate some creative ideas.
BEI: Can you tell us about an unexpected challenge that you have run into in your career and how you overcame it?
I have learned a lot in my short career as an Exit Planning Advisor thus far. I have learned the importance of really focusing on my market and being able to qualify the people that are likely willing to do the work, but also those who will be willing to pay for this unique service. There are lots of people that would like advice, but when it comes to committing and paying for that advice, owners must recognize the value of someone who has experience and training in Exit Planning.
I have also learned that I do not have to limit myself to only working with owners in my local region. In this era, with the technology available, I can work with business owners across the globe. I have a client that I have had long-term relationship with that is located in Germany. However, with technology and today’s marketplace, we can maintain a relationship and work together just as if the business were here in Vancouver.
BEI: In your opinion, what qualities make a good advisor?
I think a good advisor should have a holistic view of the business and a realistic view of the future of the business. It is also important for an advisor to be empathetic and understand how the owner is feeling during a transition like this. I think the experience that I have myself as a business owner has given me credibility in terms of being able to understand what they are really going through.
In addition, being able to connect with people and build strong relationships is key to becoming a good Exit Planning Advisor. Being a good listener and really being able to understand what business owners want and need out of this transition is key as well. In building strong relationships, I have been able to help my clients build value in their business, because I understand where they are, and I understand where they are trying to go, and I can help facilitate closing that gap. Lastly, another important aspect of being a successful advisor is having resources and tools, including software, like the planning software and many other educational and marketing resources that BEI provides.
BEI: How has your involvement with BEI impacted your practice?
BEI has really been everything to me. Without the support, education, guidance, and coaching that I have received from BEI, I would not feel confident to have conversations with not only business owners and prospective clients, but other advisors. As I mentioned before, education is key. I am so grateful for the knowledge I was able to gain in the BEI Boot Camp and Advanced Exit Planning Series. I am now in the process of getting my Certified Exit Planning Designation. With this knowledge gained from this education, I now have the confidence to be able to talk about this topic in an authoritative way. Having contacts at BEI to help guide me through this process has significantly helped as well.
BEI: What is your favorite part of the planning process?
Recently, I have realized that marketing is the most valuable step of the process. My practice can only grow efficiently if I am able to connect and engage with people and educate them on the importance of Exit Planning. In this era, it has become a lot easier to cast a wider net and reach the right audience. I use social media, online advertising, my website, and educational videos that have been very impactful.
I have been making a lot of educational videos with the answers to many business owners' top concerns. Providing educational videos for business owners will enhance trust and credibility with clients and prospects. If prospects do not trust you, you will not be able to build a relationship with them or gain their business.
Education is the key to getting business owners to realize they need to take action to start Exit Planning early. Building awareness around the need for an Exit Plan and educating business owners and their circles of influence is really the first step. These educational marketing tactics have provided my clients with a better understanding of the process while also helping me to be seen as an expert on the topic. These marketing tactics have also helped me stand out from the other advisors in the industry.
If you, like Joe and so many other professional advisors, are looking for ways to collaborate and explore the Exit Planning industry, schedule a meeting with us today about how you can get involved in the broader BEI Network of Advisors.