WHAT’S IT ALL FOR? A Guide to Business Succession

Mark Goddard
Managing Director, Private Wealth Management, UBS

Sometimes the most simple questions can be the most revealing. When it comes to business owners, nothing seems to divide them more than asking ‘what is your business for?’.

This separates the serial entrepreneur from the family business and from the person with a vision who has put every last remaining pound they can spare into making their venture a reality. For some it’s their ‘baby’ and to be parted from it in the form of a sale is a life-changing experience for them and their family. For others it is one of a series of projects and, after they exit, they will soon be onto the next thing.

When contemplating an exit, the answer to this core question, along with others like ‘do you even want to sell?’, ‘when is the best time to sell?’ and ‘what will my role be after it’s sold?’, is crucial to getting what you want out of the exit process, from planning to execution and post-sale.

Many business owners put off this kind of self-examination or perhaps never do it at all. A very British humility can get in the way, a reluctance to ‘jinx’ a deal before it is signed and sealed. Many are so driven by making the business a success, they simply haven’t the time or mental space to think about what comes after.

That is what inspired this report. We want to encourage everyone – from entrepreneurs a year into developing their start-up through to 70-year-olds at the helm of their family business – to consider those questions well in advance of a sale, should one ever happen.

The following guide, the second in our ‘What’s it all for?’ series, is intended to help you navigate what can be a complex and stressful time. We have collated our own experience and insight from supporting multiple generations of business owners, as well as talking to a range of UBS clients who have been through the process. We hope we can help you get the most out of the sale and your life afterwards as you make the sometimes uncertain transition from being a business manager to a wealth manager.

Aeriel Curtny Kronberg