M & A Advisory and Business Brokerage

This is the core of our work. If you have built a business that can outlast this generation of ownership, Congratulations! Good work. You’ve done more that the vast majority of business owners. Most businesses don’t outlive their founders. How you leave the business to the next generation could be the most important and most consequential thing you do with your business. Most business owners get only one chance to do it right. There are no Mulligans or do-overs.

The difference is your core values. And we put that first.

Values-First approach

We use our same Values-First approach to help you plan out the next chapter. We get crystal clear with you on what a good exit, transaction or transition looks like for you, for your investors, for your employees, and for all your stakeholders. We help you clearly draw the line between selling your business and selling-out.

Business sales process

Then we craft a bespoke business sales process that puts your values first. Which may or may not be the same as maximizing your enterprise value, after-tax proceeds, or your liquidity at closing. But we can say with certainty, that it will be a process that doesn’t lose sight of your true core values. We spend a lot of time making sure you feel good about what comes next, and avoiding the seller’s remorse so common among people who sell out of alignment with their values. It’s a business sale. Not a “sell-out”.

Identify transaction partners

Like any investment bank, M & A advisor, business broker or sales agent, we will identify a large group of transaction partners, buyers, or investors willing and able to do a transaction at a fair and appropriate valuation. But unlike most of our competitors, we will also vet them according their values, and how closely they match yours.

Learn the values of the buyers

How do you learn and judge the values of all the buyers? It’s not easy. It’s not something they teach at Harvard Business School. It’s not something you learn on Wall Street. It’s something you can only learn by starting, growing, building, and leading businesses according to your core values, and then actually selling that business to new owners, and seeing how the core values shine after the dust settles.

30 years

It’s something we’ve been doing for over 30 years. First with our own businesses, and then helping our clients and our friends achieve the same. We’ve helped hundreds of businesses. We’ve seen it all. The transactions that went well, and the transactions that went poorly, leaving a sour taste in everybody’s mouth. We’ve learned what the difference is.

Traditional Buyers

Traditional buyers are “business first”. Return on investment. Maximize profits.
  • 1. Private Equity- 4500 PE firms in the US.
  • 2. Family Offices – 6000 – 7300 firms
  • 3. Search Funds – equity backed.
  • 1. Competitors
  • 2. Non-local, similar businesses
  • 3. Adjacencies.
Individual and
Family Buyers
  • 1. Mid-career executives that want to work for themselves.
  • 2. Lifestyle business buyers
  • 3. Family buyers
  • 4. Search Funds – Individually backed.
Management or
Employee Buyers
  • 1. Your “right hand people”
  • 2. Key employees
  • 3. Do they have the financial, operational, and leadership requirements to take over?

Alternative Buyers

Alternative buyers are mission driven, triple-bottom line, people, planet profits. Ownership is defined by mission.

  1. Steward Ownership
  2. ESOPs
  3. Purpose Trusts and Employee Ownership Trusts
  4. Co-Ops
  5. Management and Employee Buy-Outs

Certifications and Other Value Commitments

Certifications can help signal your values, and focus your efforts. But they come and go. Will the new owners really continue with the values? Or is it just lip-service?

  1. Organics
  2. B-Corp
  3. Triple Bottom Line Management
  4. LEED

Leadership, Culture and Governance Issues

Most traditional businesses have a top-down, heirarchical management style. Board hires the CEO, the CEO hires direct reports, and the managers all tell the employees what to do. Business performance and financial information is treated as confidential trade secrets, in a black box, only for those with a need to know. Some of our more successful clients have grown more collaborative, transparent, cultures, using tools like Open Book Management, flat organization structures, and employee defined Key Performance Indicators. In these organizations, more employees know what makes the business tick. They know what a good job looks like, not from a once-a-year performance review, but from daily dashboards, and actual financial and operational results.

Alternative ownership structures require transparent and collaborative management. Not every business is ready for it right away. But if you value your employees, and want to have them continue to be an important part of the company after a transaction, you may need to build a more collaborative and inclusive culture and governance system. The good news is, this will make your company more valuable. Not just to alternative investors, but also to traditional strategic and financial buyers.

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