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THE NEXT IN LINE

There are several options to exiting a business. Blair Carroll explains why he is looking at a bigger picture when it comes to planning for the future. Where have the last 21 years gone? Before they know it, any business person has to start thinking about their exit plan. I have no wish to work until I drop and so for a couple of years I’ve been thinking about the best way out, not just for me but also for my staff, the majority of who have been with me for the long haul. A couple of years back I considered selling and spoke with a couple of interested parties. Eventually I turned down what was an attractive offer.

When your pension is your business you need quite a large pot to make it last ‘til the grave and by the time the tax man has taken his chunk the pot is a lot smaller. My business isn’t setting the world alight and nobody will miss me when I’m gone but it has served a loyal client base for a long time and I owe it to them as well as my guys to get the best deal. To my mind, that means securing long-term employment for my guys and maintaining the standards of service our clients have come to expect. So why not let it continue beyond my exit? I prefer exit to retirement – it sounds less final. So, I’ve decided on a different approach.

If I can recruit the right person and spend the next couple of years showing them howIdo things, I can give somebody else the opportunity to develop the business. I’m not really a marketer and a bit of a technophobe to be honest, so the right person can take over the business as managing director leaving me to step back gradually and watch the business progress under new leadership. 

I see this as a great opportunity for someone with all the enthusiasm I had 20 years ago to be given a big foothold in an established business with no incoming investment, guaranteed salary and dividends. They can pick up the ball and run with it and see where it takes them and the business. For my part, I would retain an interest in the business with a profit share for a pension but with less and less involvement as the years progress. It could be a win-win. So, in summary, I’ll take succession over sale every time. My legacy is my business continuing beyond my time and that’s what makes the last 21 years worthwhile.

Blair Carroll is managing director of Boosters

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