Loading Episode...
Business Leaders Podcast - Bob Roark 30th March 2021
Exit Planning Fundamentals With Cam Bishop
00:00:00 00:45:37

Exit Planning Fundamentals With Cam Bishop

BLP Cam | Exit Planning

 

The vast majority of business owners spend somewhere between 90% to 95% of their time working IN their business and only about 5% working ON the business. Running the business is working in it; exit and transition planning are working on it. However, when it’s high time to sell, most business owners don't know what they don't know about selling their company. They are unaware of how to transition or exit their business. Joining Bob Roark on today’s show is Cam Bishop, the Managing Director at Raincatcher, a business brokerage and M&A firm that partners with entrepreneurs and business owners looking for help in buying or selling remarkable companies. If you’re thinking about selling your business or in the process of doing so, you don’t want to pass up this episode as Bob and Cam dive into the exit planning fundamentals that will help you extract additional value out of your company.

---

Watch the episode here:

[embed]https://youtu.be/eB4ILmWLn_g[/embed]

Exit Planning Fundamentals With Cam Bishop

We're incredibly fortunate we have Cam Bishop. He's the Managing Director at Raincatcher. It's a business brokerage and M&A firm that partners with entrepreneurs and business owners who are looking for help in buying or selling remarkable companies. He is the author of Head Noise: Perspective and Tales from the Executive Suite and Onward & Upward: Motivational Advice for Career Success.

---

Cam, thank you from Kansas City and for coming on the show. We appreciate it.

Thank you, Bob. You’re welcome. I'm glad to be here.

Before the show, I did a little bit of homework. I looked at your long resume of experience. If you could, give us a quick snapshot or thumbnail of your experience prior to here.

It has been an interesting journey. I went to the University of Missouri School of Journalism. I got a degree in Journalism and came out of school. I wanted to become an advertising copywriter. I thought I'll spend my entire career working in ad agencies. Instead, I started out in a marketing job and writing ad copy in a small publishing firm. It was a $7 million business. It got acquired and the new owner said, "We want you to go out and buy companies to grow this thing." We grew from $7 million to $13 million, to $90 million and then we got sold again. We grew from $90 million to $300 million. I stepped in as the CEO of that company and we grew it to $400 million. It was a profit machine. We were throwing off $100 million a year. We had 2,000 employees in 23 US cities in 4 or 5 foreign countries. It was a crazy ride.

[bctt tweet="The integration plan is the absolute make or break of the deal." via="no"]

The management structure changed and I said, "I liked this business model." I took six months off, wrote a business plan, flew around the country, pitched in the concept to about 50 different private equity firms, and ended up landing in a very happy relationship with JPMorgan Chase Banks' Private Equity Division. At that time, they had about $6 billion fund they were working out of. Unlike most PE deals, we didn't start with a direct acquisition. We started on my kitchen table. We went out and sourced a business as a starter, what they call a platform company.

We ran the same model I had been running at the previous business, which they called in the PE world, the leverage roll-out business, where you buy a platform company and then you rapidly begin to tap companies that are strategic fits for your business. You build it up into a much bigger company, then you exit that deal and gain a benefit from scale that we used to call arbitrage on the exit multiple. Meaning if you had averaged all your deals in six times EBITDA, when they're aggregated together and you resell it, you can sell it for 8 or 9 times EBITDA based on the scale of the business and the efficiencies that you've driven into the business.

We did that and then we exited that business. I consulted as a partner in a consulting firm that did exit and transition planning. Over the course of my career doing these leverage roll-ups, to buy one company, you normally look at 30 to 50 companies before you buy one. Over the years, I've looked at well over 500 different businesses in terms of their offering documents and completed 40 buy-side deals. A lot of times, we would carve out non-strategic assets from those deals, repackage them, and sell them off. At any one time, we might be buying 2 to 5 companies and spinning off and selling 1, 2 or 3 companies. We were a deal machine to that process.

[caption id="attachment_5848" align="aligncenter" width="600"]BLP Cam | Exit Planning Exit Planning: If you listen to the employees of the company you’re acquiring, they'll tell you everything you need to know about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of that company.[/caption]

 

What you see with so many business owners, sadly, they don't have the right representation and they leave money on the table. If I was paying somebody $2 million, $3 million, $4 million for their business and if it had been a better package, they could have gotten an extra $500,000 or $1 million. For most people's legacy, that's a lot of money. I developed a passion for that to help business owners. That's why I went into exit and transition planning, where I also helped broker a few deals for those companies.

I spent the last few years doing a very fascinating and extreme business transformation, coupled with a digital transformation for a $60 billion 501(c)(3) organization that looked behaved, felt, and competed like a for-profit company. What was very attractive was the purpose-driven nature of that business. I was under a contract for the board of directors to do that because all the money that business made went to fund scholarships and the endowment for a small private university. It was a very worthwhile cause, but that contract ended and I said, "What do I do with the rest of my life?" I love the transaction business. I love helping business owners to achieve their life goals and financial goals. I started looking around for somebody to join and that's where I found Raincatcher.

What made you decide on Raincatcher?

After I finished my contract, which was very high stress and extremely difficult work environment, it was 10 to 12-hour day for three years, I said, "I don't want to go back into another CEO job, but I want to be challenged. I want to be useful. I get bored way too easy." I said, "I want to partner with either a lower-level market investment banking firm or a higher-level, sophisticated business brokerage." I spent a month just doing research on firms around the country and identified a list of about twelve. I began doing deep-dive research on one of those to proceed with conversations. It would have to be a two-way street, but I was going to be very picky about who I would want to work with.

Fortunately, the third firm I came to was Raincatcher. I was very impressed with their digital presence and the quality of their website. I reached out to them via their website. I got a call back from the two partners, Marla and Jason. We set up a couple of Zoom calls. We hit it off. We found that we were very much in alignment on mission, vision, and the value of corporate culture in a company. They're marvelous and highly ethical people. I said, "I like how this is going. If you're agreeable, I'll drive out nine and a half hours from Kansas City to Denver during COVID. Let's meet someplace outdoors." We met at an outdoor restaurant and spent five hours together. We went through lunch and dinner. It was great. My wife came out with me because we believe in the family orientation of businesses. She came over after a while.

[bctt tweet="Running a business is in and of itself a full-time job. Packaging a company to sell is also a full-time job." via="no"]

We had to figure out a business model that worked for both of us and rightfully so, that took some time because they were evolving their business. We finally got that all ironed out. We set up Raincatcher Midwest LLC of which Marla and Jason, the two owners and partners with them held a co-firm in Denver, our partners and I'm a partner. We're going to focus on building out the Central Standard Time territory in the United States as part of their nationwide build-out strategy.

It's the chemistry. You think about the importance of that. In your early career of acquisition. When you were rolling up all the companies initially, how important was chemistry to you when you were looking at acquisition targets?

The chemistry portion of the acquisition process is primarily driven through the integration into the business. That's one of the big mistakes that many companies make when they acquire a company. I've seen it countless times. I've done a number of lectures for CFO-type organizations on the whole process of mergers, acquisitions and integrations. The primary thought is you put about 90% to 95% of the effort into identifying the business, doing the due diligence, negotiating the deal, and trying to get the deal closed. Only about 5% of the energy and time goes into the integration plan. The integration plan is the absolute make it or break it of the deal. With the exception of certain terms and conditions in the contract, it's not on the frontend of the business.

As part of our deal machine, we developed a very rigorous approach to try to identify the culture of the organization we're acquiring and to avoid the habit and practice that is so prevalent in deals where it goes like this, "I'm buying you. Therefore, I'm right, you're wrong. I'm the boss, you're going to do it my way." That's where the breakdown occurs in a lot of these integration deals. If you approach it from the standpoint of listening to the employees of the company you were acquiring, first of all, they'll tell you everything that you need to know about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of that company. At the same time, if you listen, you will hear that they are doing things better than you are doing. If you have an open mind and can control your own ego in order to adapt to the best practices of the company you're acquiring, you end up not only a larger but a much better overall and more efficiently run total company with a more compatible corporate culture.

I think about that business owner that their dream is an all-cash offer. I don't think that's all that common. I suspect that earn-outs and performance clauses are in that world. Piggybacking on what you just talked about, the culture and so on. If you're the business owner who has an offer that has an earn-out, what should you be aware of or try to take and see in advance to make sure there's an opportunity to achieve your earn-out?

Some of them are related to the terms of the deal and what the earn-out is tied to. As a seller, if you could get the earn-out tied to top-line revenue, you're in much better shape than if the earn-out is tied to some element of whether it's gross profit, operating profit or net income. Pick whatever profit line you want to take because there are so many elements that become out of control of the seller of that business, especially if he or she exits the business in conjunction with the deal. Even if they stay on for a retained period of time and still get paid an earn-out against some level of profitability, you no longer control all the decisions if you're a minority shareholder in that business on a consulting contract, or just an employee.

[caption id="attachment_5849" align="aligncenter" width="600"]BLP Cam | Exit Planning Exit Planning: With a few exceptions on some of the higher-end private equity deals, there are a few deals that get done these days that are pure cash deals.[/caption]

 

You are correct, Bob. With a few exceptions on some of the higher-end private equity deals, there are a few deals that get done these days that are pure cash deals. They're all either combining a seller note with an earn-out, or one or the other if not both, especially if they're in a small enough range where they're going to have some SBA loan backstopped against them. Almost all of those require some element of seller carryback on a note basis. It’s not necessarily an earn-out basis, but a seller carryback.

The thing that struck me is you’re talking about the chemistry between you and the folks at Raincatcher. I'm thinking about the business owner who maybe has the luxury of more than one offer and you're going to go, "This one's got this. This one's got that. This has got the other." The reason that they're buying my company is because they theoretically like what I do and how I did it. They go, "There's no chemistry. The chemistry is better in one offer than the other." For that potential seller, what do you think are the critical 2 or 3 things you need to have foremost in your mind to make sure you navigate that earn-out properly?

That can be a huge issue, especially if it's a long-term independent entrepreneur running his or her business and they're acquired by a private equity firm. It's important for a seller in that case, especially if they're going to do a traditional PE deal where they sell off 80% of the business and retain a 20% equity stake, remain involved in the business for the typical whole period of generally 3 to 7 years with a five-year midpoint. It's important for them to do their due diligence on the private equity firm. If it's a family office, it's the same situation by talking to CEOs and former company owners of other firms that investment bank or that private equity firm has acquired.

There's also one other element inside your own business which is a control factor. Many companies have anywhere from one to a handful of what I call key knowledge keepers and/or key points of failure in the organization, where somebody is so critical to the organization either because they have a certain type of unique experience, customer relationships, or some technical capability that is essential and central to the business. A smart seller will not be penny-wise and pound-foolish. He will create some kind of a stay bonus or an incentive structure for those individuals, which accrues over time to essentially put golden handcuffs on them and make it worth their while to stay through that seller's earn-out period at a minimum.

What struck me as we're talking, we always hear that the business owners don't know what they don't know about selling their company. Why do you think there's such a gap between the skillset that they have to run their business and do well running their business, but they're unaware of how to transition or exit their business?

It ties in with the question we get from company owners who talk to us about representing them in the sale of their business. You are correct. They don't know what they don't know. I've never seen an actual statistic, but based on experience, I'd say 95% of business owners have never bought or sold a company before. They have no idea what's involved in the process, how much work it is, how much time it takes, and how complex it is. It is a case of, "You don't know what you don't know." I've been a CEO of companies for about 35 of my 40-plus years in business. I always worked on the philosophy that you know what you know how to do well and you do it. You know what you don't know how to do well and find an expert to do it for you.

In the management world, I certainly know accounting, but I'm no CFO expert. I bring in a top-level expert. I know more than enough to be dangerous about human resources and all the laws and regulations around that, but I still bring in a top-notch human resources executive. It's the same with my technical operation and head of IT. It's no different. There's that old saying in court, "He who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer." There are certain parts of that that apply in the sale of a company. There is a large element also involved with that basic risk mitigation of having the knowledge of both a professional who represents you in the business from all the technical aspects of the deal, as well as someone to look out for your best interest and help you divorce the emotional aspects that go with selling a company. It's a highly stressful emotional process. It's very easy as a business owner to make decisions based on emotion rather than on a solid business principle. That's where we play a critical role.

There are many different ways to go. There's the transaction fatigue factor. I'm sure you've seen folks who go, "I'm just worn out. I'm done. I don't want to play anymore." You've seen it with all the acquisitions where the business owners are responding to requests. How do you see that business owner when they're in the transaction process? How well do they do run their company during that process?

The challenge in selling a company is that’s also one of the things we try to keep an eye on and monitor those owners on. Running their business is in and of itself a full-time job. Packaging a company to sell is also a full-time job. If you don't have somebody who's controlling and doing the work on as many elements of that as possible outside the firm, you can become consumed with it as a business owner. Take your eye off the ball and you can see deterioration in the performance of your business while you're over here focused on trying to package and sell the business and doing something you don't know how to do.

To compound that problem, a lot of times, an owner will try to backstop with their attorney and an accountant. Usually, an attorney that a company works with is not a transaction attorney. They're not an M&A attorney. They may be primarily an HR law specialist or just a general business specialist. It's another case of penny-wise, pound-foolish not to be represented by a special legal counsel that knows all the intricacies and ins and outs of the terms and factors that can make or break a deal. Most deals die not because of the price but because of the terms.

I've heard that enough and I think it's understated or underappreciated on the price versus the terms. People get enamored by the price and then they fail to observe the fine print terms.

They just don't understand the ramifications of those things. How many people have ever had to deal with baskets, caps, escrows, long-term liabilities, and certain financial performance benchmarks that trigger certain factors in the contract? What are the elements of the non-compete, no-solicit, and no-hire elements of the contract? What do all of those mean for that business owner? Those are things that can significantly impact the total value received on a deal.

[bctt tweet="If a business can’t be perpetuated if you got hit by a bus, you have a job and not a business." via="no"]

For the business owner who's out there and says, "I'm ready to sell my business. I'll do it myself. There's a buddy of mine that may want to buy my business. The potential purchaser will just show up," I think the business owners undervalue or appreciate the contacts that folks like yourself have and Raincatcher has on potential acquirers.

That's one of the things that attracted me to Raincatcher and I'd never seen this before. Because of the level of digital sophistication that Raincatcher employs both to market companies for sale, to attract and qualify potential buyers, we have a qualified buyer database of about 8,000 names. It's growing by more than 100 a month because it's a very frothy market. This company has a fantastic track record. Their close rate on deals where the seller signs an engagement letter is something like 85%. That's off the charts. That's partly because of the very disciplined and rigorous process and team approach they take to working with those clients and vetting those sellers. The same goes for the buyer side of things. About 70% of the deals the firm completes in a year are sold to people, companies, private equity groups, investor groups, family offices, or whomever that reside in that database.

You touched on some stuff about a value-add bringing to the table and helping the business owner prep the company for and recognize the value drivers that they need to tend to. Would you comment on that?

Business owners don't realize that there are many factors. I could probably write up about at least twenty different value drivers that can impact a business and either enhance the value or detract from the value. One of the most common ones we see is sloppy financials. If they don't have good financial record keeping or good historical data, if they're running on a checking account payment basis where they get a bill and write a check out of their checking account because they have the luxury of having enough cash on hand. They don't have a full chart of accounts, allocated expenses, and they're not doing cashflow statements and balance sheets. That’s one of the single most significant detractors of business value. The other one and probably number one is the degree of reliance on the sustainability and success of a company by the owner him or herself, either they hold all of the critical knowledge in the business, their primary customer relationships, or the company is dependent on their talent or technical knowledge in some form but they don't have any succession plan behind them.

That's the old job versus business thing. I would love for you to expand on the markers that business owners go, "Do I have a job or do I have a business?" What were the 1 or 2 things that you would see right off the bat that would tell that owner, "You have a job, not a business?"

For a couple of semesters, I taught a course at a local junior college that was sponsored by the SBA. The whole lecture for the day was talking about, "Do you have a job or do you have a business?" It was interesting. We have 30 or 40 small business owners in the room. You could see the reaction on their face that would light up like, "I never realized that. I don't have a business. I have a job." A job is a source of money that is solely dependent on your skills and talent. For example, somebody who is at a solo-practice consulting firm may be billing $500,000 to $1 million a year and taking that money home but they don't have anything to sell because the business is solely dependent on them. That's a typical example.

If there isn't a business that can be perpetuated if you got hit by a bus, then you have just a job and not a business. The other factor that I would lecture heavily on if you're starting a business or in the early stage in a business, you need to be thinking at that time about what your endgame is. How are you going to exit that business? Everybody in the world is going to exit their business. They're either going to do it voluntarily standing up or by getting carted out on a stretcher, but it's going to happen. The tragedy occurs when there is no exit plan and succession plan.

The stories I know of are heart-wrenching about businesses that had true net worth. The owner who was healthy one day had a heart attack and dropped dead. Employees who had customer contact relationships had no direction because there was nobody there to run the business. They walked out the door of the key customer relationships. The value of that business completely drained away. There was nothing left there for the remaining spouse and children or those who would otherwise be an heir to the financial success that that owner had built up over the years or several decades.

There's a statistic out there that somewhere around 80% of a business owner's net worth is in their business. I think about the analogy to selling a home. If you go to sell your home, the kitchen and bath are the best place to spend the money. You typically have somebody or a professional come by and look at your property and go, "You need to stage it this way. You need to clean this up. You need to fix that up." For the business owner who thinks they can sell the business by themselves, I don't know why there's such a disconnect between the same things that you do for a piece of real estate or anything else that you're going to sell. They don't do that or have a checklist. You guys have a fairly robust system for determining the potential value of a company as I understand it.

Yes, we do. It was one of the other things that attracted me to the firm. At no cost to a company that might be interested in selling, we have a very interesting tool called Value Builder. They can take this questionnaire. We don't own that business. We licensed that system and technology. We run those tests and then we will review that. There are a series of criteria and scores that can help them show what their value is and where they need to work on their business. Those who have a high enough score and who might be interested in continuing with consideration of a process to have us represent them in selling their business, we'll take an even deeper dive and do what we call a broker opinion of value for them.

There are three of us working on it. We have a specialist who is a financial analyst and doing valuation work. We'll have 30 or 40 man-hours of work preparing this presentation for a prospective buyer. We don't charge for that service. We are somewhat unique in that we put our skin in the game with that business owner. We only get paid if they get paid. We get paid a success fee on the back end of a deal. There's a very little financial risk upfront for a seller other than perhaps a retainer that we want them to have a little bit of skin in the game, but not a material amount.

In the exit planning space, there's a mindset that exit planning preparation is different than running a business or the exit planning fundamentals are different than running a business. What's your opinion on the exit planning value-building steps versus just running your business?

[caption id="attachment_5850" align="aligncenter" width="600"]BLP Cam | Exit Planning Exit Planning: If the business is solely reliant on you as the owner of the business, you're in trouble. You need a succession plan.[/caption]

 

This was another topic I hit on that resonated with people in the SBA course I taught. The vast majority of business owners spend somewhere between 90% and 95% of their time working in the business and only about 5% of their time working on the business. Exit and transition planning is about working on the business. The kinds of decisions and moves that you can make that help extract additional value out of the company.

As I mentioned earlier, if the business is solely relying on you as the owner of the business, you're in trouble. We would counsel you that you're going to need a succession plan and you're going to have to invest into someone who can succeed you or grow alongside of you so when you leave the business, there's someone there who can take it over. The buyer is going to look at that. They're either not going to want to buy your business or they are going to deeply discount it to offset their presumption of risk that goes along with buying a business that is so dependent on 1 or 2 individuals.

The thing that I think is interesting is client concentration risk, "We just went out. We landed the biggest client that we've ever had. They're now 50% of our revenue. Our margins aren't that great, but our gross revenues are amazing now that we landed this big client." What does that do to the value of the business if you do something like that?

Ironically, you might increase both your top line and profit line but reduce your value as a company because of the level of risk in that customer concentration. I would say that's value driver number three. After the reliance of the business on the owner and sloppy financials, then comes customer concentration or it could be customer turnover.

The business owner has their hands full. First, "Can I get the business started? Do I have the courage to get it going?" You started a business on your kitchen table. Your spouse has to be along for the ride as well and be supportive. They run it, get it going, and finally achieved some level of success. It doesn't surprise me at this juncture that they don't understand the value drivers, "I've got my family boat. I've got some vacations in the company on the balance sheet." I'm sure you've seen that a lot through your acquisition career.

I've got a lot of crazy stories. The term that I've always used for that, we'd call it EOB for Excess Owner Benefit. We were buying a company in Denver one time. Their offices were down there in the Centennial Airport off of Arapaho Road. It was a very successful company. The reason their offices were there was because the owner was a pilot. He owned not 1, not 2, but 3 airplanes. All three of those airplanes were charged to the company. Any time he went anywhere, he charged the flying fees, gas, hangar time, and whatever else to the company. That's a steep cost to the company. We see people in the construction business, where they will have their crews go remodel a room in their home and charge that off or allocate that expense to the company. Tons of things with boats being charged with the company and elaborate vacations.

Those are recreation platforms.

There's the favorite one where there are all these family members are on the payroll, none of whom ever comes to the office or have a job description or a functional job. Those are just a few, but there are some creative ones out there.

As you look back over your acquisition career, I was thinking about the business that you bought that you most admired how they had it put together. That was a simple acquisition contrasted with the business that you bought that required the most work. What were the key characteristics of either?

[bctt tweet="You often learn far more from your failures than you do from your successes." via="no"]

I would say it would be a blend of a few things. Usually, if they were working well, they had a strong brand to begin with, they had well-documented systems and processes. In other words, they were a buttoned-up organization. There wasn't a lot of sloppiness. There wasn't the things you see that are traditional devaluing factors in a company. Their employees were well-trained and well-motivated. Those would be the most critical. They had a high customer satisfaction level. We didn't have to go out and put out a lot of fires and fix a lot of customer-relationship issues.

As I think about your years of experience and the business owner who's going, "Why should I take in and hire someone like you?" I think a better question is, "Why they can't afford not to?"

There was an opportunity to leave money on the table. I had a conversation with a company that's considering whether or not to use us. They've been approached by 1, 2 or 3 companies that said, "We'd like to buy you." If you don't know what your market value is, you can do an easy transaction. It could become penny-wise, pound-foolish where if they offer you $10 million for your business but somebody else would offer you $12 million, the fees they would pay us are money well spent in that particular case, not including the other elements of risk mitigation that go along with all that.

I've been working for private equity firms for many years. I've worked with some of the major ones. Besides JPMorgan Chase, I've worked with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, one or the other $6 billion-plus funds, and a couple of other smaller private equity funds for deals of that size. Those guys love to find a company that's not in an auction process because they know they are always going to get a better deal. It's human nature. If you've ever been to any kind of an auction, whether it's an antique auction, an art auction or a car auction, there's an element of competition involved there. It drives prices up until they reach a maximum reasonable level of value for a business with that firm's particular characteristic. You don't know what that is unless you're soliciting multiple bidders.

As you look back over your career, there might have been one mistake maybe somewhere along the career, which at the time seemed to be profound or remarkable, but it stood you in good stead later that helped you be better at what you did. Has one of those come to mind for you?

Yes, it ties in with what we've been talking about with corporate culture. The company I worked for when they told us, "You're going to grow by going out and doing an acquisition," we've got the money to get started, but they didn't train us on how to do any of that. They just said, "Go do it." It was the proverbial equivalent of if they got a six-month-old baby, dropping them in the swimming pool, they swim. That baby instinctively is going to know how to come out, but they're not necessarily going to know how to do it right. Quite literally, the very first deal I ever did, which was the first one our company ever did only because that was the one we found first. I was responsible for it.

We did what we thought was a good due diligence on it. It was a small deal. I think we paid $1.2 million for that business which by the standards of what we were doing was tiny. It was a lot of money, but it was tiny for that scale. About six months later, we had that single point of customer relationship in that organization. It was the owner of the business. He couldn't deal with a more corporate environment and said, "I'm out." We thought, "We're not worried." We've got a backup for him, but we did not properly assess his skillset. He could not sustain those customer relationships. Within about eighteen months, we killed that business.

The key takeaway from that was we dotted the I's and crossed the T's, all the accounting, and everything that you could add, subtract, multiply and divide, but we did not properly assess the human aspects of that business and how that was going to relate to integration on the back end. They always say that you oftentimes learn far more from your failures than you do from your successes. We never screwed up in integration after that deal because we completely changed our process about how we evaluate, assess culture, talent, and the fit for those individuals in our organization.

They say tuition is expensive. In the SBA classes you've taught at the junior college level, you've worked with your teams, and built your teams. You taught them processes and systems. I think about the resource that you can bring to the table for that business owner. Is there anything about the transaction process that you would like to share with that business owner that I failed to ask?

There are a few quick things. Number one is it's highly stressful for that business owner. It is a tremendous amount of work. There is much uncertainty. It takes a long time to do. In a perfect world, you might get a deal done from the day you signed the engagement letter. If you're super lucky, you might get it done in four months. The average is somewhere between 6 and 9 months. I've seen them go for well over a year, depending on complicated factors. The other factor is, what does that business owner need to think about with his or her own personal life? What does life look like after that company is sold?

That's part of the reason I'm in this business is to help them because I've seen way too many business owners emotionally crushed and burnt. Many owners battled depression after they sold their company because they were so consumed with running their business. Their social structure was often dependent on their business, either through vendors, employees or what have you. They don't have a life outside that company and they haven't thought about how to build it. We spent a lot of time talking with them about that part of the process, along with the technical aspects of conducting a transaction.

I would second that thought. The statistics are somewhere around 75% of all business owners who exited their business wished they hadn’t within twelve months, particularly for the ones who haven't created the vision for post-sale. It's what we see. First, I appreciate you taking the time and sharing some of your wisdom from all the years of doing this. There's talking and doing and you've been in the doing phase for a long time. For the business owner out there who's considering bringing his company to market, the biggest mistake you could make is not reaching out to Cam. It's a phone call. With that being said, how do they find you? Where are you on social media?

We're www.Raincatcher.com. That's the fastest way into our organization. You can reach me at Cameron.Bishop@Raincatcher.com or they can find me on LinkedIn.

Cameron, I must say thank you for being kind enough to send me your books. They were a good read with a lot of information. For the folks out there who are looking for some tips, pick up the books or reach out to Cameron to get the books. I thank you again for taking time out of your afternoon. For the business owners who have the opportunity to work with you, they're fortunate indeed.

If they would like to have us, we can help.

On that note, Cameron, thank you so much for your time. I look forward to catching up with you soon.

Thank you, Bob.

 Important Links:

About Cameron Bishop

I began my career as a copywriter in a company that had 90 employees and $7 million in revenue. Over 23 years, a great team of us built that company into a business with nearly 2000 employees in 23 U.S. offices and several foreign countries. In my final year there as CEO, Intertec generated $400 million in revenue and $100 million in EBITDA. Success was achieved with a diversified portfolio of media properties including 100 trade journals, 300 technical book titles and a $40 million trade show and conference group. We succeeded while being challenged with 5 different owners.

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Join the Business Leaders Podcast Community today: