The Secret Power of Story Telling in Exit Planning and Master Business Planning

What is your favorite family story? Mine is a story regarding my Great Aunt Margaret. Margaret was sixteen, unemployed, and in charge of her three siblings in rural Oklahoma after her mother disappeared in the mid-1930’s. Needing money, Margaret had heard that there were factory jobs in California, so she rode in the back of a truck for three days with no food to get to California. Shortly after arriving, she interviewed with a nice man, Herman, who was eating lunch at the time.  While Herman interviewed her, Margaret mostly stared at his lunch. He offered her a job, a sandwich and within three weeks they were married.

I heard that story over twenty years ago at the dinner table the first time I went to see them in California. Why can I remember all those details, but I can’t remember my calendar for next week?  The reason is storytelling. Stories have always been the primary communication between humans and we remember stories because they connect us to emotions. The story of what my Great Aunt Margaret had to do to save her sisters and brother left an impact because that is what good stories do.

In exit planning, stories are used to break down barriers between generational owners. Business owners want the succeeding generation to acknowledge and respect the work and risk they took when creating or growing the business.

When the next generation is considering and/or pushing for the transition of the management or ownership of the business, I ask the current owners to present their story of the journey they took toward owning the business. The best use of this technique is to have the youngest generation interview the oldest living owning generation.

I suggest they gather the financial information, pictures, products, customer lists and recreate the history of the business. The power of the journey allows the receiving generation to emotionally connect to the formation of the current owner’s identity, financial history, and where the company was, where it is and what the future could hold.

Storytelling helps us understand the business’ origins, turns lessons into meaningful cautionary tales, it links partners, families and sometimes sellers with buyers. The business owners’ story can be motivating and gives life and personality to numbers on spreadsheets. Come and hear about how I use this powerful tool in my consulting practice on my webinar hosted by the Exit Planning Institute on April 4, 2018, at 1:00 pm.

ICYMI: Watch the broadcast 


About Exit Planning Institute:

EPI LogoThe Exit Planning Institute (EPI) is an education company that provides exit planning education to advisors and middle market business owners.  We view exit planning as a strategy, not an event.

EPI leads the professional services profession with the best industry content, ongoing support, and owner education platform, all of which align with our mission: Change the outcome.

Only 2 out of every 10 businesses that come to market actually sell.  We want to increase the number of saleable businesses.

Only 30% of family businesses successfully transition to the second generation, only 12% transfer to the third, and the success rates diminish from there.  We want to improve those intergenerational transitions.

Of those that succeed in the sale of their business, 75% experience “profound regret” within one year of exiting their business.  We want to understand why and create strategies that achieve profound success, wealth, and satisfaction.

EPI is an education company, powered by an elite community of top advisors and owners, all focused toward creating a valuable, transferable future for the business marketplace.

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