The IC-DISC Show

Ep051: Pathways to Successful Business Transitions with Laurie Barkman

January 10th, 2024

Today on the IC-DISC show, join us for an insightful discussion with Laurie Barkman, a renowned CEO and author of The Business Transition Handbook. As the acclaimed Business Transition Sherpa, Laurie sheds light on the reality that all business owners will exit someday.

We explore the challenges of selling a business, like why most small businesses don't sell successfully and the potential pitfalls of an exit.

We also discuss relying on experienced advisors and how understanding taxes and markets can aid planning. Laurie shares invaluable advice on navigating this critical phase successfully.

This episode is a must-listen for any business owner planning to navigate their business transition.



  • Laurie and I discuss her journey as a CEO and author of The Business Transition Handbook, providing insights into the realities of business transition.
  • She highlights the hard truth of selling a business and how eight out of ten small businesses fail to do so successfully.
  • We talk about the common pitfalls of business transition, the five "D's" that can disrupt a business, and the value of creating a satisfied client base.
  • Laurie explains the unique challenges law firms face during business transition and offers her strategies for a smooth transition.
  • We delve into the importance of a clear exit plan and the different options business owners have when transitioning their business.
  • Laurie advises focusing on three primary goals during business transition: business, personal, and financial.
  • We discuss the analogy of business transition planning to having a sherpa guide you through a treacherous terrain, making the process seem less daunting.
  • Laurie emphasizes the significance of accountability in business and the benefits of having industry expert conversations during transition.
  • We explore the upcoming online course based on Laurie's book that she plans to launch in the first quarter of 2024, aiming to reach a wider audience of entrepreneurs.
  • We discuss the importance of having an experienced network of professionals to help businesses reach their goals and create a successful transition plan.


Show Notes

Be a Guest

About IC-DISC Alliance

About The Business Transition Sherpa

About The Endgame Entrepreneurship Course


Laurie Barkman


(AI transcript provided as supporting material and may contain errors)

David: Hi, this is David Spray. Welcome to another episode of the IC Disc Show. My guest today is Laurie Barkman from Pittsburgh. Laurie is a really fun and interesting guest. She just released her first book entitled the Business Transition Handbook, and she is called in many circles the business transition, the idea being that a Sherpa guides somebody on a journey over a period of time rather than just a one-point event in time. Laurie has an impressive background as a former CEO of a large privately held company. She has a bachelor's and an MBA, and we talked about mistakes business owners make when they're transitioning their business. We talked about the sober reality that 100% every last business owner is going to exit their business and the question is will it be on their terms or someone else's? So there is some great advice and information for any company, any business owner who is looking to exit their business at some point, and I think you'll get a lot of value from this. Good morning, laurie. How are you today?

Laurie: David, hey, great to see you, I'm awesome.

David: That is great. Now, where are you located today?

Laurie: I'm in the great city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

David: Yes, now are you a native of Pittsburgh.

Laurie: I am not. I am not. I'm an adopted daughter of the city. I'm originally from Albany, New York.

David: Okay, so Ithaca wasn't too far to go for you.

Laurie: That's right, it was not. It was only about three hours away.

David: Okay, and then what brought you to Pittsburgh?

Laurie: After graduating from college, my husband and I moved around Pennsylvania with different corporations. I was with Aigner Sol Rand Company and I was with a division in Shippensburg and after four years decided to get my masters, get my MBA, and decided to move to Pittsburgh. My husband had gotten a nice job with McKinsey and company and here we are. Okay 25 years later.

David: You got your MBA in Pittsburgh, right at Carnegie.

Laurie: Mellon. I did at Carnegie Mellon okay.

David: Well, let's dig into this. So the business transition Sherpa. Where did this nickname come from? Did you come up with this yourself, or did somebody else give you that title?

Laurie: You know, it's kind of an amalgamation of things. I remember talking to my husband about a trip that he and I had taken in 1997. We did a trek, we did a hike, and this idea of somebody guiding you and stuck with me. And as I was thinking about what I'm doing, working with business owners, it's not just one moment in time, it's over a period of time, and I really feel like my role is to be a guide. I don't have all the answers. I have a path, I have tools and, just like a Sherpa and the great work that they do, it's that same idea is we're on a journey together. Entrepreneurs build their business, sometimes on their own, but most likely not. Entrepreneurs are building their companies with other people, and so when they get to this other side of the mountain, so to speak, and thinking about their next chapter, why would they go about that by themselves? And I want to be the person that helps guide them.

David: Yeah, I love the description of what you do because it picks up the fact that it's a journey, it's not a point in time and it's tough to do by yourself. In my experience I've just closely held small to medium sized business owners. Only sell a business once right, that's right.

Laurie: We can regret things in our experience. We can regret what we do and wish we did something differently, or we do not take an action and we regret not taking that action. And my book the whole reason I wrote the book the business transition handbook was to help people proactively so that they don't have regrets.

It's a very big, lofty goal to not have regrets in life, but if we can be proactive and we can understand what it takes to build a more valuable, transferable business and then understand what resources we might want to have on our side. I like to say, David, you can't do exit planning when you're exiting. It's just too late. So if you give yourself a time and space to work on having a more valuable, transferable business, the good news is that it's going to be a lot more fun to run your company. It's going to have an economic benefit to you and then in the future you'll have more options. You'll have more valuable options too.

David: Yeah, I really enjoyed reading your book. In fact, behind you there, I believe, there's a blown up cover. Yes, it is.

Laurie: That's right. Yeah, it was really interesting to write the book. I guess I could say it's my first book. I don't know that I'll have a second, but this, no matter what, is my first book and it was challenging, but at the same time, it was fun. It was like a giant puzzle.

Once I mapped out what I believe the big pitfalls are right. So the subtitle of the book is how to avoid succession pitfalls. Each chapter in the book and I don't know if you picked up on this as you were reading it but each chapter is a pitfall. What do you want to avoid? And so what I tried to do was put myself in the reader's seat, the entrepreneur's seat, and how I developed that perspective was from my own experiences, client experiences and then integrating case studies and other learnings from my podcast.

I have a show called Succession Stories that you will be a part of soon, and there are so many valuable things to learn from other people's wins and losses and challenges, and that's what I have always sought out to do with my show.

The show is about three years old at this point and when I was writing the book, I had, I think, about 120 recordings, so that's a lot of knowledge and content.

And what was so fun for me, david, was I was going back into the archives of a discussion.

Every show I have has a transcript and of course I don't remember everything.

But when I would write a chapter and I would need a case study, I had space for a case study in that particular spot, for a particular topic I would think, okay, which shows, should I go back to dive into those transcripts and then find these golden nuggets and I it was just so interesting to have the recall in writing of oh yeah, you know, she said that was an amazing conversation, and you, my memories are not long, right, we have so many, only so much storage in our brains, exactly. So it was really cool to go back to that body of knowledge that I had created, and I began to appreciate that body of knowledge even more. I think this case studies bring the book to life. I'd like to hear what you think about that, but that's that's what I hear from my readers is they love the, the learning and the concepts, the business concepts in the book, and they think that it's like me having a conversation with them by sharing these case studies and stories along the way.

David: Yeah, I agree there were a number of. I mean, there was a lot of great stuff in there, but some of the particular ones I kind of wanted to dive in with you on is so this is a little bit of a quiz to see how much of your book you remember Do. When somebody, when people, decide to sell their business, do they just automatically sell it or do some portion of them? Are they unable to sell the business?

Laurie: There's a mix, as you can imagine. Yeah, what percentage are you?

David: able to actually sell it in the small business space.

Laurie: It's a surprisingly low number. You know the statistics out. There is that every two out of 10 companies in the lower middle market actually sell. So that leaves eight out of 10 not selling. And you could ask, well, why is that? And there's a lot of reasons why. Sometimes along the way we have the five D's kind of pop up, or always also known as the 60s. These D's are taboo things, sometimes we don't want to talk about them, but they're real and we do need to talk about them. It could be the debt of an owner.

It could be divorce disaster like COVID you know we put it in that category or disaster like fires and the business or the market has experienced is something traumatic it could be. Did I say divorce already? Divorce is another D. So these D's are something we can plan for. We don't want them to happen but we do need to be prepared. So if we're not prepared for the 60s, they can really wreak havoc on a business. Particularly death. The death of an owner can throw a business into a tailspin and I did cover that at some you know level in the book with a couple of episodes, snippets of people who had experienced that.

The other reason why businesses don't sell, david, is because they're just not transferable. If they are so owner dependent and owner centric, that can be a really big reason why it won't sell and it's hard for owners to see that. You know, sometimes owners think that they are the secret sauce. I have a business assessment that one time I'm marketing. The owner of a marketing firm took this assessment and she said oh my God, she goes. I didn't realize I was standing in the way. She thought she, you know, she's a photographer, she's the creative, she's got the client relationships and she realized at that moment oh my goodness, I am making my company less valuable.

So there's a pivot in our brains when we recognize some of the elements that help create a more transferable business and companies that have an owner who don't necessarily see the business as an asset, they see it as a job or they see it as a piggy bank. Those are different things, because if you see your business as an asset, you're going to want to create value in that asset over time. You're also going to want to protect that asset. If it's a job, right, I just accepted what is. And it's not growing, it's staying the same. Maybe you're not reinvesting in the business. You're not reinvesting in yourself or your people.

And let's just jump to an example. I have a client who, in his favor, had very loyal people Once he got to his sixties, as did his key employees, and everybody's looking to retire. Buyers looking at that business said oh my goodness, how transferable is this business when all the key people are going to retire at the same time? So he had saved money, so to speak, by not bringing in new people, kind of underneath and over a period of training. So he recognizes that now, but it's too late.

David: Sure, yeah, I was having this conversation yesterday with a group of CEOs and we were talking about enterprise value, increasing it, owner dependency, and there's a guy that owns a small boutique intellectual property law firm and they were asking him how sellable law firms are in general and he said not very and from his perspective that he said there's things he could do to make the business run without him better.

But his model that he really likes to work with his clients directly, he doesn't like an associate between them and so that in his and a couple of his clients are actually in the room and they're like, and he's like, yeah, if I had like some associates that could potentially lower the fees to a client, you know, because there's more leverage in the client. So like no, we'd rather pay more and have you. So I've noticed in professional services there's this tradeoff between what. If you really want to have delighted clients, sometimes that's at odds with making your business the most valuable. And I know my business is like that. I mean I've got huge owner dependency issues because I am the key relationship, but I've gotten peace with the fact that it's just not very sellable and I like being a craftsman and just like it hit.

Laurie: Yeah, and that isn't that the important thing. If you recognize it and are accepting of it, hey, you know what? That's okay. Not every business is going to be an asset to sell to another buyer and that's totally okay with the law firm. Just to circle back, because I do have some professional experience with law firms, one of the catch 22 things about law in particular is the code of ethics that they have to abide by.

David: The non-competence, the non-compete.

Laurie: Yeah. So if a lawyer leaves a law firm, they you know there's certain restrictions on when they can inform their clients and taking their clients with them, and I know there's lots of gray areas. I'm not going to talk about all of the nuances there. My point is that with law firms also there could be other types of professional services that run into this, but in law in particular what clients will say is that they hire lawyers, not law firms. Yeah, and so when you're tied let's just like you're talking about with that particular partner that the clients are willing to pay more because they want to work with that particular partner it could be highly likely that client would jump and go with them, no matter where they are. That can be particularly concerning for an acquiring firm, knowing that they may have some stickiness to certain clients and then they may not have other stickiness. So it really is dependent If there's a firm that's acquisitive and looking at buying other professional services, whether it's law or any other profession.

I work with engineering firms quite a bit and in engineering firms there might be contracts but those contracts are not assignable and it might influence not only the type of transaction that we would do, whether an asset sale or entity sale, but it also would influence potentially on the transition for the sellers and how long they might want to stay, or the buyers might want them to stay under either an employment agreement or consulting agreement. It could also influence whether or not there's an earn out. You could structure an earn out, for example, if the buyer wants to structure an earn out to ensure a certain percent of those contracts are assigned over whatever time period or year and a half. So it could influence it in a big way.

David: Talk to me about, and thank you for that. Talk to me about what you enjoy most, about being a business transition or not. I shouldn't say A, but the business transition, Sure. What are some of the aspects of that in working with those companies that you just find particularly satisfying or rewarding?

Laurie: One of the things that I experienced as a CEO of a privately held company was the loneliness and being in my own head and having big questions and not really knowing where to go. I find that I bring kind of this EQ, if you will, of smarts and know-how and experiences and questions, and then I bring excuse me, the IQ around that, then the EQ, which is more of the emotional side. I've always been a kind of person that people confide in. Obviously, this is a highly confidential type of scenario but, I talk with my clients about the business.

for sure, that's the practical side of everything, but we also talk about the personal side. We have to talk about them because remember earlier in our conversation I talked about regrets and there's some alarming statistics out there about experiencing regrets at least one year after the sale. I'm kind of on this mission to help business owners find clarity, and find clarity in a way that makes sense for them, for their family, for their stakeholders, which includes employees and other shareholders and their communities that they serve. A lot of people feel after a transaction that they let so-and-so down. Maybe they let their employees down, maybe they let their communities down.

I had a guy in my show whose family business fourth generation chlorine cleaning product was sold in grocery stores and he could not walk down the aisle anymore. He couldn't bear to see that product under another name or by another. He said, yeah, there was a pride. We used to the small town and we had our name on the baseball team and people knew who I was. The identity that this particular person had his family name was on the company. Identity is a really big part of it, david.

People go through almost like a withdrawal If they're not excited about what's next, this pull factor, what's pulling you forward to your next thing? If we're not excited about it, it can be really. You can imagine worst case scenarios. Those things do happen. But the in-between space is not that great either, for what makes me feel that I'm helping entrepreneurs?

I've always orbited entrepreneurs with a great respect for the risk that they take. I've come to know family businesses as a category. Also. There's the founder-led, family-led, privately held company. I've worked in venture backed, so no offense to venture backed folks, but they're not really a focus for me. I'm really focused on call it the bootstrapped or family-led companies where they're the everyday entrepreneur making it happen.

The sense of clarity clarity on three core types of goals is where we focus business, personal and financial. There's a lot of work to be done there. I think that's what makes me motivated, makes me feel appreciated by my clients. They are awesome people. I work with some amazing people that are doing really wonderful things for their community, for their family. They have excellent intentions. They just don't know how to put it all together. I don't either. I don't have all the answers, as I said earlier, but what I do have is I have an awesome Rolodex and I have an awesome way to bring professionals together and collaborate and help my client assemble a business owner transition team advisory team to help them make big decisions along the way. Again, this clarity is the number one thing that I think my clients benefit from.

David: Yeah, no, that's really important because, as you talk about in the book, unfortunately 100% of the business owners are going to exit the business, just like 100% of us are going to exit this earth. I was thinking when you were talking about that fourth generation gentleman who couldn't walk down the grocery aisle, but it's one of those things, but it wasn't like he really had. He must not have had a great way to avoid that, because he wasn't going to run the business forever. So you come into what are the options? Basically, if somebody's not immortal, what are the options to exit a business? Because there's several paths, right?

Laurie: Yeah, absolutely. Just to finish the statement with 100% of business owners are going to leave one day, there's a big however, you know. However, very few are planning for that day To leave on their terms, and when we have a plan, we're more likely to achieve it. That's just how it works, right. That's why we do strategic planning for businesses. So why don't we do strategic planning for our exit or our transition? And that's really the main advocacy I have in the book is let's have a process, let's have an understanding of what it takes. So to your question I think I address it quite a bit in one of my favorite chapters, which I think is chapter six, which is who should own your business after you, and it shines a spotlight on the different kinds of buyers.

When I do workshops, david, I do webinars and I do in-person workshops, and I put up this slide and I have essentially three columns and I go through some examples of each bucket three buckets and people's eyes light up, they take out their camera, they start taking photos of this one particular slide and it is enlightening because we hear about certain kinds of buyers and we don't know that there might be other options out there and maybe not every option is a fit. So what I advocate for is let's understand what are some exit options for your company and which ones might be a better fit than others, and why let's prioritize those and let's come up with option A, b, c and if option A doesn't work out, then we know we've got an option B. It's just like in any negotiation If you have the power to walk away, then you know you're going to get the right deal for you. It's when you don't feel that you have any other options that you feel pinched. So that's why back to the conversation about the five or sixties if an owner passes away and the company is going in a tailspin, with employees leaving and the spouse doesn't know what to do, and they've inherited this company. They've never worked in it, it's a mess and the buyers come out like sharks and there's chum in the water.

We want to avoid that. We want to avoid that. So, yeah, I mean we could talk about what. Who are the different kinds of buyers, if you want.

David: Sure, yeah, because I mean, I, just off the top of my head, we've got passing it on to the next generation selling it to the employees. A third party buyer? What are some of the other options?

Laurie: Yeah, let me just frame it out and that way, visually, I'm kind of working left to right as I talked about these three columns and I put it in that order for a reason. So the first column is strategic buyers, the middle is financial buyers and the one on the right is related buyers.

So the examples you mentioned, family and managers would be in the related buyers category. Typically speaking, that is going to be more of a fair market value type of approach to valuing the business, of what price you might expect for your business, and if you kind of go left on that chart then the price expectation should go up right.

David: Strategic generally not always generally speaking, will pay the most.

Laurie: And why is that? Well, and also, what's a strategic? So a strategic is an entity, it's a company, it could be a competitor, it could be a marketplace vendor, it could be a customer, it could be an adjacent industry to yours where they want to make moves, either geography wise, or into your industry, if they're not part of it yet. So those are strategic and, typically speaking and this was my experience going through a pretty big M&A transaction with a third generation company that we were acquired by a Fortune 50. And, believe me, they had an M&A playbook and when they're that big and they've done that many transactions, so for us it was understanding what's the fit, what will this look like? And for them, I'm sure, in their financial models, it was about leverage what assets do they keep, what employee teams might they cut and how do they gain some cost leverage? And so that's typical where these pieces of the business might be kind of bolted into something else. Maybe it's standalone, maybe it's bolted in, but that's typically why strategic can pay more, because on the back end, as they're modeling out their financials, they know what costs they're going to take out. We don't necessarily know that, but that's what they're looking at.

Financial buyer most often we think of private equity firms, and private equity groups will invest on a time horizon roughly five to seven years could be longer and they'll want to buy low, sell high, and so in between, they're investing in that business to improve it, they're putting in management teams and they will take a larger entity, maybe keep it as a standalone and that would be a platform deal. And a platform deal may eventually have other firms acquired to tuck underneath it. Those acquisitions we call tuck ins or add ons. And because they are taking assets and putting them into something larger, you could say, oh well, that kind of sounds like the strategic. And the answer is, yeah, kind of does. So that's why, in a private equity deal, the hybrid, as we might also call it, could, from a multiple standpoint, look more like a strategic offer. So that's just a little financial nuance there. But typically speaking, private equity groups are going to be the biggest, you know, the biggest buyers out there. There's still a lot of dry powder and another big category that I like to spotlight.

Well, there's two others I would put under this financial bucket. One is family offices might be investing in privately held companies in different asset classes. So, for example, I had a family office. Second generation was on my show and he talked about what he and his father's investment thesis is. And they're focused on warehousing, like storage, you know, storage unit for consumer storage so you can rent one for a year or whatever and put your stuff in it. So he liked they like that asset class because it has a recurring revenue model to it. And that's just one example.

And what's really interesting, if you compare the time horizons for these investments, well, a family office is looking for a buy and hold, more likely than buying, selling a short period of time. So, as I said earlier about fit, this is where it's really important. If the seller doesn't want to be in a situation where it could be sold to the one fish and gobbled up by another. They want to be held for like a longer period of time and perpetuity. Then maybe they should look to you know, talking with family offices who are doing acquisitions in their space. So that's a category that is kind of under the radar and I just put a spotlight on in the book.

And then the third one are ESOPs, which is a you know, think of it like an almost like a 401k program for your people. When they retire from your company, they're incentivized to stay, and when they retire they will get a distribution check, and so an ESOP is an interesting option for some other companies Again, not a fit for everyone, but it might be a fit for companies of a larger size with enough employee base, where, again, you're going to have a liability at some point to pay these people, so you have to be able to fund that. But what happens in that transaction is that the company becomes a tax-free entity, and so that's a real incentive, you know for companies to reinvest and acquire others, and it can be very positive for the culture too, yeah.

David: I know quite a bit about ESOPs because you were kind enough to introduce me to Mike Silverman and in fact he and his partner, Matt were, I guess, in my podcast a few episodes ago and it's really interesting on some of the ESOP opportunities. And I'm glad you brought up the family office because, right, people don't think of that.

Laurie: But when?

David: I think about the. What I think of philosophically is the super family office. I think about Berkshire Hathaway's acquisition targets. But the problem is I think now they're up to where. When I started reading Warren's annual letters, they were looking for businesses with enterprise value, I think of like 25 million and up, and I think the last I checked it's half a billion or a billion and up. Just because $25 million companies don't move the needle for them.

But yeah and it's kind of like their sales pitch is similar to the family office sales pitch. So I guess one way to think of it is, if you like being an aquire of Berkshire Hathaway but you're smaller than a half a billion dollars, then maybe a family office might make sense. But even then when you think about Berk acquisition requirements. They want a business that runs independently of them. They do not want to manage the business. So you're right back to. A business that can run without the owner is more valuable for everybody.

Laurie: Yeah, they have the portfolio largely independent of each other. They've kept the brands, I think, pretty separate because they appreciate the brand and the competitive moat, as they like to call it, around that business. I think they look for companies that have a competitive market differentiation, so it makes sense that they don't muddle the water.

David: Yeah.

Laurie: Yeah.

David: Have there been any positive surprises from writing the book that you didn't anticipate when you wrote?

Laurie: it Surprises. Let me think about that.

I think just the reviews have been so delightful and meaningful to me and I guess I just didn't think about it. I don't know that it's a surprise, it was just. Maybe I could say a surprise and delight just to see how this book is helping people or how they've shared told me that it's helping people. I think that has been a really lovely outcome. As an author, you put good in the world and you hope goodness comes back, or you hope that it's helping, but you don't really know unless people tell you, and so that's been really great, I would say. The other is with my clients. I have my clients and meet with them on a regular basis and I have clients that are reading the book and then when I meet with them they're like, yeah, I just read chapter five, let's talk about it. So this combination of I'm not going to quite do this myself, I'm going to read the book, I'm going to get knowledge, but I still want to work with someone to help me along the way, was really reinforcing that what I expected. I expected that, frankly, and I think it's important.

I do think people can go through this book on their own and at some point in this call give, I'll give the listeners an option to how to make the most of it, but you can do it on your own. You can. What I think is human nature is we want someone to hold us accountable, and that's, I think, not again not necessarily a surprise, but very reinforcing. That is true and that's why just a kind of a pre announcement here I'm going to be creating an online course from the book so that it can help more people in a different way, and hopefully they'll watch the videos and they'll read the book, and I, what I'm aiming to do is reach a wider audience of entrepreneurs, not just the people who are, you know, three to five years out. This is really a book, I think. If you are beyond startup phase but you're growing your business, why not read this book and understand what it's going to take to create a more valuable exit when you're ready? So it's exciting. I'm planning to launch it in the first quarter of 2024.

David: Oh, that is exciting. If somebody is interested in learning more about that is do you have any place for them to go yet, or are we too soon?

Laurie: We are too soon, but that's a great idea. I should put up like a waiting list or something on my website, but the businesstransitionhandbookcom is the website page for the blog BusinessTransitionHandbookcom.

Yeah, the businesstransitionhandbookcom is a page on my site, so they'll see all other pages too, but this is the landing page for the book, so what I might do is put up I'll put up a blurb at some point about awaiting this for the class. And yeah, no, I'm excited about it. Like I said, I aim to reach more people and help more people with it.

David: Yeah, and you know that accountability is interesting, because one of the things I see with our clients is that one of the things that's interesting about our clients is that 90% of them have revenues between 10 and 100 million probably somewhere in the light of your clients and the vast majority of them do not borrow money. They've been financially successful enough. They've been able to, you know, internally find growth and because of in that, in addition to other reasons, and most of these also, it's a single shareholder, they don't have a board, and so these clients have zero accountability, like their only accountability is like to their family, to make sure that you know the monthly income is what they're hoping it would be.

But you know, they don't have a bank to be accountable to, they don't have a board, they don't have other shareholders, so I can see where that accountability is something that they could be really helpful for them, that they don't really have anywhere else. Now, of course, they may have done that on purpose. Maybe they didn't really like being accountable. You know they were an accountable employee and then they borrowed money from the bank to start a business, so maybe they don't really like me. What do you think?

Laurie: I have a client that's about 120 million revenue business in the call it food production space and he's very purposeful, has very good intentions for transition with his daughter over time and really wants to see her be successful in the company and grow with the company. And his partner, to his credit, said hey, not real name. You know, joe, you're going to want we should do a new operating agreement. You know your daughter's in the business now. She's doing a great job. We need a new operating agreement.

And this operating agreement was sitting on my client's desk coffee stains. You know he literally had it in the corner of his desk. He told me he was there for nine months and then I met him in a workshop and then that was it. He said oh, that's it, I have to do something. I can't just keep looking at that document. And of course in the transition it's more than just the operating agreement. But it was so many other things too and he just the accountability was really good for him. He needed that. He really did because he had the intention to do it. It just was, you know, backburner and it was never the thing to do when all these other important things are common. Adam.

David: Now that makes sense, and I just want to be clear businesstransitionbookcom or businesstransitionhandbookcom.

Laurie: I just want to make sure I had it. Yeah, that's okay. It's the title of the book. Yeah, oh it's the.

David: Okay yeah, I'm looking at the book. Okay, yeah, that is easy note to remember. What do you enjoy the most about your podcast? Trying to switch gears a little bit.

Laurie: I love talking with people on my show about what's worked for them, what they've learned and what they would do differently and if I have an entrepreneur. I have two kinds of entrepreneurs that come on the show. One type is looking in the rearview mirror and that's where they'll get the lessons learned right. We really learn a lot from others where it just didn't quite go the way they would have liked and when they have successes, of course we learn a lot from that too. So that's one type of entrepreneur. The other type of entrepreneur is looking forward and I've started to have more conversations with entrepreneurs and I'm asking them questions about their legacy and how their intentions are for their transition and legacy, if they're open to sharing it. I've had a gentleman came on my show. He's in the HVAC space and he had let his company, his partner, know his intentions to retire in three years and it was almost like this huge weight was lifted off his shoulders and now that it's out there, they can create plans, they can work on things and it's a little bit freeing to do something like that. Other people who aren't quite ready to say what it is they want to do. We talk a little more generally about what's important to them as they think about transition and leaving a meaningful legacy for their stakeholders or family or employees, and I'm really enjoying those conversations.

I also talk with people who are experts in the industry on some particular topic, like tax advisors, financial advisors, legal advisors, and those conversations are wonderful because then, as I build my Rolodex of professionals that are able to be the best fit for my clients, it's a wonderful way to do business development and people who listen to the show have. You know, not every listener becomes a client, but I have had listeners reach out. They've listened to succession stories for a year, two years, whatever it is, and they reach out and they said Lori, a longtime fan would love to talk with you. And the resources that are available from the show are on my website, like business assessments and different articles and knowledge articles give plenty of videos and ask to help people learn about different topics. So I feel like this body of knowledge.

You know this thought leadership type of approach where if people listen, they learn about me, they learn about what would they do, and then maybe they want to follow up. You know is pretty exciting. So I really like that. I like when I hear from my audience. They tell me what's an interesting topic to them or questions they might have, and I think the learning is really the main thing. I'm a continuous learner I always have been and I find that with every show I'm learning something. You know, I'm learning something every time and I just love that.

David: Yeah, and I've probably listened to half of your episodes. I suppose and you know that episode you have with Mike Silverman was really memorable that you know have had to introduce several clients to Mike, and so I think having the advisors on is also a great idea and that's kind of how you fit short of on my show, right? We're not talking about the ICDisc program at all, but you're somebody who my clients outside the ICDisc may find value to this conversation and yeah and I'm like you I love to hear, to hear, people's stories on the Colby.

I'm an 8643, which I don't know. If you know the Colby, I do know the Colby. So I'm. That's what's called high fact finding. Okay, so I lead with the fact finding. So for me, I'm always more comfortable, you know, asking questions than answering them. Maybe that's from childhood trauma, where I was forced to answer too many uncomfortable questions by my parents. I don't know. Well, I can't believe how the time has flown by. By the way, what's your website?

Laurie: My website is thebusinesstransitionsherpacom.

David: Oh, okay, I like it.

Laurie: Thank you, you know. I just wanted to mention David, because if your listeners are finding this topic helpful, that's good, you know, and then they probably might be wondering well, what's the next step? Or you know how do I sort of take small nibbles as opposed to biting off a whole arm, and I would recommend that. You know, I don't want people to feel overwhelmed, I want them to feel reassured that we have a process and we'll work with them to meet them where they are and I guess the you know. The next thing would be to reach out and whether they are in a mode of transition and planning, which is what I'll call pre-M&A right, not that they have to sell, but just conceptually. And then, for folks who are anticipating selling to a third party or a family member, you know that transaction somehow some way. So I'm a certified Mergers and Acquisitions Advisor and can help steer them on that path, from the practical side as well as the emotional side, to get a deal done that makes them happy. Okay, I like it.

David: If people want to reach out to you, is LinkedIn probably the best way.

Laurie: Yeah, linkedin's a great way. Let me know that you heard me on the show. That would be awesome, and I think, david, you'd probably love to know that too. And they could reach me on my website. As you said, the business transition Sherpa, there's a spot to book directly with me. We can connect via Calendly.

David: Okay, and then what's the website for the podcast?

Laurie: Successionstoriescom is the name of the show and again, you can find it directly on my website in the podcast section. All the catalog of the shows are there, but it's in every type of platform, so if you're Apple or Spotify or whatever you like, you'll find it.

David: That's great. So here's the surprise question I promised you.

Laurie: So I have two questions left.

David: And so here comes the surprise one. So if you could go back in time and give advice to your 25 year old self, what advice might you give?

Laurie: I think I should have bought a business.

David: Okay, so you would have encouraged yourself to buy a business.

Laurie: Yes, when I was 25 and I was graduating from my master's program. It was all about the next great tech startup, yeah, and creating that from scratch. And that wasn't me, yeah. But I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I just didn't feel like that was me in that mold. And I think now I'm more attuned to entrepreneurs through acquisition, you know as a category, and I didn't mention them, but they also would fall under the financial buyer category and there are many of them out there, not just in the US but around the world, who are interested in being part of that succession plan for a founder next generation leader.

David: If you do you ever listen to the my First Million podcast.

Laurie: I'd spent a while, but I'm familiar with it. You like that.

David: They had a guest on recently. That is probably certainly my top five favorite podcast interviews ever and it's about a woman Sarah I forget her last name, but she was getting her MBA and decided she was going to buy a business with and she had zero money. She was going to buy a business you like these real estate advertisements? Buying real estate with no money down. She was going to buy a business with no money down and it's just a fascinating story of the process she went through through in just an astonishingly wonderful interview that I couldn't recommend highly enough. So apparently she was able to somehow go back in time and give her a 25 year old self that advice because she managed to pull that off. That's very cool. Is there anything we didn't cover that you wish we had?

Laurie: Well, I think just to reiterate for people that when time is on your side, you can make an impact on your future and give yourself the space to work on your business and not just in your business.

That would probably be my main advocacy and surround yourself with people that can help hold you accountable to the process and meet you where you are. So if they are just thinking about it, trying to figure it out, trying to understand what's their business worth today, yeah, that's a great place to start to. You know, try to figure out and model. Where are you now, where do you want to be and what's the gap and how are you going to get there?

David: That's awesome, Laurie. I really appreciate your time on the show and I appreciate you taking the time to be on here.

Laurie: Well, David, thank you for having me. I know this is my second time around you and I talked on a different show. We did.

David: Yeah, we did.

Laurie: It's lovely to be back with you and reconnect, and I'm just so glad that you are sharing this content with your audience, and I appreciate you, thank you.

David: Yeah, it is my pleasure. Well, I hope you have a great day.

Laurie: You too.