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DBA Members’ Forum | September summary

In the latest DBA Members’ Forum we focused on succession planning, or another way of looking at it, your Options Strategy – the plan that demonstrates that you’ve given the long-term future of your business some thought. We heard about some of the options open to owners and senior management teams, and we also heard from those who had been through the experience from a buying perspective. 

For business owners

  • DBA expert Jack O’Hern, partner at Wright Vigar shared a wealth of information on the options available to you when it comes to succession planning and you can read more about them in this resource.
  • The key piece of advice I took from Jack’s advice was the importance of planning, and dedicating time to getting the right plan in place for your business. Do you have a continuity plan if the worst should happen tomorrow? A 2-3 year lead time will mean you can get the business running as profitably as possible before you undertake either an internal or external sale.
  • It’s important to ask yourself why you’re doing this and what you want to get out of it.
  • Considering the net amount you’d want to get out of a sale is important, and working towards that, whether through multiples of revenue or as a shareholder option.
  • Can you take a decent holiday and switch off? Often this is a useful way to see how reliant the business is on the current owner – the more interweaved the business and the owner are, the more work will need to be done to get in a position to sell.
  • An often-undervalued option is to retain ownership but not spend your time working in the business, so you can focus your energy on a new project. This is a great way of gearing up for a sale and getting all your ducks in row to keep your options open.
  • Management buyouts are a popular option in design, but very dependent on the internal team you have, especially in this labour market when it might be difficult to plug any gaps in your team. How ready are they for this, and what can you do to bring them on the journey to ownership?
  • I recommended you subscribe to the 2bobs podcast, this episode on what an acquirer will care about is a good one, but worth subscribing, they’re fantastic, and funny! 

For buyers

  • Chris Lang, DBA Expert and Founder at Flash Partners shared an important update on Employee Ownership Trusts and the zero tax option this approach can offer you, you can read more about this here. There is a very good book on EOTs by Chris Budd called The Eternal Business.
  • One member shared their experience of a MBO and their top tip was to have some clear boundaries and non-negotiables from the outset to save time and help when it comes to decision making.
  • Surround yourself with those who have been through the process before you if you don’t feel you’ve had enough training. The DBA’s Twenty/Twenty mentoring programme can offer you the external support you need, find out more here
  • Does everyone know the risks involved and understand what they want to achieve? Getting buyers and owners on the same page at the beginning of the process will help keep everything on track. 
  • Seek legal advice, both parties need separate representation, you can check out the DBA experts register
  • There are a multitude of finance options open to MBO teams, from invoice discounting to Northern Powerhouse Investments, there are ways of being involved in an MBO without a privileged background, so it’s worth doing your research into options available to you.

Our Members’ Forum takes place on the first Monday of each month, at 4 – 5pm. If you would like to attend, get in touch here

Our next members forum will be taking place on Monday 3 October.


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