One of the challenges facing the Welsh economy and SME businesses is how to persuade our successful owner managers and their management teams to think about succession planning early by making it part of their growth strategy.
Development Bank of Wales recently hosted a round table at their Cardiff headquarters where a panel of local experts shared their expertise and experience on how to plan for and profit from a smooth change of business ownership.
The roundtable of experts advised that by thinking about the bigger picture and planning ahead from the start you can build a stronger, better-resourced and more competitive business. The result would be a business that is ready for sale, attractive to a number of potential buyers and capable of securing funding for the transaction.
Finally, the panel agreed that a phased handover would also significantly ease the transition process and help the new business get off to the best possible start. The next phase of the business growth journey could also require growth capital to help drive the business forward and achieve its future plans.
Summing up on succession the panel of experts finished the day with a final say on the subject:
“When business owners and their advisers have the vision to view succession as a marriage rather than a wedding it can help to plan the transaction, smooth the transition period as well as support the new management team in the first few months.”
“Letting go of the reins isn’t easy for any business owner but relinquishing control is key. Establish good governance and accountability within your management team and put your business in a position where it can be run without you.”
“Don’t overlook the benefits of introducing specialists to the management team as the business grows. A strong management team and timely, meaningful management information will give a potential funder confidence and allow the existing owner to step back which is fundamental to realizing maximum value upon exit”
“I always encourage business owners to consider a phased handover. It can pay dividends for all parties: it’s tax-efficient, ensures continuity and better knowledge retention whilst building value and increasing the potential money a vendor eventually gets paid.”
“Start early in order to sell the business effectively. A lot of businesses I speak to don’t have succession on their radar until it becomes crucial or critical to the continuity of their business. Succession should be part of the business planning process almost from the beginning.”
“Getting the right people in place can take time. Vendors should try to identify their core management team and any potential successors as early as possible. Then they can recruit the necessary experience to fill any obvious gaps and put a strong management structure in place.”
“Proper tax planning is a vital element and early engagement with a tax specialist can deliver significant value to all parties. From the seller’s perspective, the objective is to structure the transaction in order to benefit from low capital gains tax rates available. Successors would focus on tax planning related to funding the transaction and becoming shareholders.”
“For me it’s about challenging people’s thought processes. Vendors and new management teams may need to find arenas where they can engage with experienced individuals and be receptive to looking at their long-term strategy in a different way if it still helps to achieve their ultimate goal.”
“Get professional advice early on. This will give you time to develop a trusted relationship with your advisers. They will help you understand the bigger picture, such as, when is the right time to sell and who is likely to buy, giving you more options further down the line.”
Ten tips to build value in your business
- Plan as early as possible
- Identify your goals for sale
- Learn to step back from the business
- Develop your management team
- Introduce good governance and processes
- Be realistic about value and price
- Build strong relationships with your advisers
- Network with people with experienced vendors
- Lock down any intellectual property
- Take advantage of tax benefits
Development Bank of Wales has a range of funding for small and medium-sized businesses including a specialist £25 million fund, The Wales Succession Management Fund to help Welsh managers and management teams buy established Welsh small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
To find out more about how we can help contact us.