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How to Drive a Successful Business Transition Plan

Apply these lessons from golf to help make a smooth ownership-leadership change more than just a stroke of luck.

A golfer follows through on her golf swing after hitting a ball.

Transferring business ownership can be a lot like golf: rewarding as well as nerve-racking. Here, avid golfer Tracey Gillespie, Senior Vice President – Business Transition Strategy at Wells Fargo Private Bank, offers a few lessons from the links to help make your business succession plan a success.

    • 1. Visualize the big win

Picture yourself on the 18th green doing a fist pump. Are you dreaming about the prize money or the trophy bearing your name?

For some golfers, winning itself is the most important outcome. Some company owners are like those golfers; they’re most concerned with getting the largest sale price in a business transition. But Gillespie notes that most business owners she and her colleagues serve also envision rewarding employees or giving back to their community as part of a successful business-ownership transition. Understanding your ideal outcome can help you properly structure your succession plan around meeting those objectives.

    • 2. Use all the tools in the bag

In our experience, transitioning owners want three things: maximum value, favorable terms, and flexible timing. But just as a driver and a putter aren’t the only clubs needed to birdie a long par-5 hole, you should use all the tools in your bag to achieve these transition goals.

To get there, owners must first understand the range of value for their company and how that correlates to various exit options, as well as how those options align with the personal goals, including financial security as well as family and legacy goals. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.

    • 3. Listen to your caddy

Great professional caddies take charge of the preparation and course planning while the player is practicing.

In business, transitioning owners need similar support by relying on a trusted transition advisor to prepare the appropriate analysis and consider all their plan options as they determine how best to achieve their objectives while avoiding distractions.

The golf pros also rely on their caddies for professional advice to help weather potential storms. As a business owner, you should also consider consulting with financial professionals who can help craft a strategic plan for management and ownership transition. By mapping out a smooth execution path, you can better manage risks as you work toward your goals.

Images by iStock

What can Wells Fargo do for you?

Investing in a business or commercial real estate requires a strategic approach. Let’s work together to create a plan that matches your vision.

Wells Fargo Wealth Planning Center, part of Wells Fargo Private Bank, provides wealth and wealth planning services through Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., and its various affiliates and subsidiaries.

Wells Fargo & Company and its affiliates do not provide legal advice. Wells Fargo Advisors does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax and legal advisors to determine how this information may apply to your own situation.


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