In 1990, Jane Johnson launched a technology consulting business; and, like most entrepreneurs, she eventually decided to sell it.
Then came the proverbial “wake up call”: just because you want to sell your business does not mean you will. Most U.S. entrepreneurs - 85% - decide at some point to sell and only 15% can do so.
Enter Johnson, who in 2013 inaugurated Business Transition Academy (BTA), the first U.S. business dedicated to educating business owners on how to prepare themselves and their businesses to sell - at the right time, to the right buyer, for the best price and without the anxiety, poor advice and high fees that usually come with it.
As Johnson knows, the missing link is education and a strategic exit plan.
“Without a plan, success on your terms is unlikely and consequences can be pretty serious. It’s not unusual for that free time you’ve dreamed of to be replaced by a job working for someone else because you didn’t get enough for your business.”
It was Johnson’s experience selling her own company that inspired her to spend her life helping others avoid the pitfalls of exiting. In Johnson’s case, the business broker she had hired withheld information during the negotiation so that she and her partners would sell quickly for a lot less than the business was worth.
Johnson fired the broker; the sale was ultimately successful; and Johnson’s passion to help owners avoid this and many other pitfalls was ignited.
Enter BTA, which stands alone in taking a “holistic” approach to a business sale at a time when the norm is for owners to hire multiple experts – a broker, wealth manager, attorney and/or CPA - each of whom handles one aspect of it. All BTA exit plans are multi-faceted; and if you are working one-on-one with Johnson, there’s a quarterback to execute the plan for you. If you need an expert, Johnson will tell you and if necessary, recommend the best one(s).
And while the norm is often to get a fast commission, Johnson takes the time to recommend whatever you need. Many times – and especially during COVID-19 – owners need to rebuild their businesses before they can sell on their terms and timeline. Johnson is there for you throughout the process, even if that means five years from start to closing your deal.
As for that future filled with free time, Johnson knows that your life choices are a critical and possibly the most important part of your exit planning. For that reason, every BTA client begins by answering questions related to their exit goals. If you choose to retire, do you know what you want to do next? “Without answering this fundamental question,” emphasizes Johnson, “you can easily wind up with seller’s remorse.”
And, if you are in a family-based business, Johnson will ask you this to prevent serious “damage” that may take place down the road: do you know how to split the assets between adult children who are in the business and those who are not so as to avoid the “sibling strife” that often results, and can sometimes linger for generations? Johnson does.
BTA has a 100% completion rate. Every client can construct a strategic plan that results in a sale – to either insiders or an outside third party.
And at a time when many owners cannot afford to pay the usual $20,000 or more in advisory fees an exit can cost, Johnson had the foresight (right before COVID) to launch the country’s first digital platform aimed at giving owners everything they need – an “exit education” and the templates - to construct a strategic exit plan.
The first level of membership – 100% free-of-charge - helps you, in six steps, understand everything you need to do to exit; the next gives you what you need to put together your own exit plan. As Johnson says, “I care about owners – especially now when opportunistic buyers are ‘dialing for dollars’ in search of businesses to acquire for pennies-on-the-dollar.” During COVID, sign-ups for the free level soared.
As 2021 dawned, Johnson added another crucial program to the digital platform: an interactive “Expert” level that gives small groups of owners everything they need to plan and execute their individual strategic exit plans under the watchful eyes of Johnson and BTA transition mentors who have successfully gone through the process themselves - to advise and answer questions.
This new CEO peer-group offering features live webinars three times/month with Johnson centerstage teaching best practices, answering owners’ questions and interviewing innovative entrepreneurs who have successfully sold their businesses to insiders as well as to external third parties.
You may be wondering – as Johnson admittedly does every day - how is it possible in 2021 that the entrepreneurs who make up this country’s innovative business landscape know so much about business and so little about the one thing they will all seek to do one day – Exit?
With Johnson at the helm, those days are on their way to fading away.
For more information on exit planning and BTA’s educational memberships, please visit BusinessTransitionAcademy.com. Visit the home page for a free copy of Johnson’s Book “Cashing Out of Your Business” and upcoming live webinars showcasing the six steps to exiting well and achieving your goals.
Jane Johnson won a Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year – Business Services in the 2020 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.
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