What Is It Like To Be A Business Transition Guide?

Episode Description:

In this episode, host Elizabeth Ledoux explores her role as a business transition guide. Part consultant, part advisor, Elizabeth works with business owners and wealth creators to figure out the best options for transferring their assets. Tap or click the play button below to listen to: What Is It Like To Be A Business Transition Guide?

Elizabeth and her team at The Transition Strategists often start the process with learning about their client’s values. From there, they explore what the client wants for their future, and how they want their assets—be it their estate and/or their business—to transition to other people. All of this feeds into what Elizabeth calls a roadmap, which is a way for her clients to visualize and attain their financial goals.

Connect with Elizabeth Ledoux and the Transition Strategists:
Website: https://transitionstrategists.com/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thetransitionstrategists 
Elizabeth on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethledoux/ 
Transition Strategists on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/transitionstrategists/ 

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Get Elizabeth Ledoux and Laura Chiesman latest book, “It’s A Journey: The MUST-HAVE Roadmap to Successful Succession Planning”: https://amzn.to/3oq2LQv 

This episode was produced by Story On Media & Marketing: https://www.successwithstories.com

What Is It Like To Be A Business Transition Guide? Transcript

Elizabeth Ledoux:  

If your invitation to your successor is so important, so once you have the roadmap done, and you can integrate the successors in the roadmap process and developing it, which is also great. But there are no promises that are made. In that process there no promises like, Oh, you’re for sure gonna get the company or you’re for sure gonna get 49% of the company, or you’re for sure gonna get anything. Because along the way, being the guide, lots of times, our clients see something new, or see something different or see a different perspective that they haven’t looked at. There are always consequences that we’re expecting, and they’re also unintended consequences. Sometimes the unintended consequences can be good and positive. Sometimes they can be negative, unintended consequences that we just didn’t know. 

Welcome to the business transition roadmap. My name is Elizabeth Ledoux. And through my years, I have seen how communities thrive. When business succession and transition are done. Well, me and my team at the transition strategists have been helping business owners develop and implement transition strategies for over 30 years. And on this show, we want to help you by giving you the roadmap to a healthy business transition. Let’s get started. Hi, there, and welcome back to our business transition roadmap podcast. You know, it’s been a while since I did a solo episode, and I thought it was about time that you get a little bit of information from me. And so my topic today is, what is it like to be a transition guide? Just some insight into what does that look like? I get asked all the time, what is it like to be a transition guide? And what does that really mean? It’s a little bit different than somebody just asking, Hey, you know, what’s it like to be a lawyer or an accountant or a financial advisor, all of whom we work with all of those people, this is just a little bit different. It’s in the realm of being a consultant, it also is in the realm of being an advisor. And if I had to describe my role, or my job, or any of the roles or jobs of our transition guides, in our, in our company, basically what they get to do is work with somebody, a business owner or a wealth creator, in helping them to figure out how they’re going to transition their assets. Now, those assets could be a business asset, it could be multiple business assets, it also could be an entire estate, sometimes we’re dealing with that, because the business is just a part of it. And they’re trying to figure out how to get their families involved. 

So the way that I think about being a transition guide is getting to know a client from the very beginning, diving deep into who they are, what they want, how their family works, how their business works, what’s important to them in their lives. And, you know, even a deep dive into their value systems, how they love living and how they like treating people in their lives. And so we do that deep dive just to get to know them and understand them. And then as a guide, we help them to determine how and where they want to go with this business how and where they want to go with these financial assets, and how they would like to experience their future. That sounds kind of interesting, I guess, because most of us don’t know or haven’t put very much thought into how we would like to experience our future. I call that the next adventure, or your next adventure. And by design, your next adventure includes fulfillment, it includes fun, it includes hopefully great relationships that are important to you. It includes finance, and how you want to feel when you wake up in the morning if you’re worried about your money, or if you feel like you have enough to get to do what you want to do in your future. And there’s a term that I used in the book, the book is it’s a journey. And I wrote that a couple of years ago it came out two or three years ago. In that book, there’s this term, it’s a Japanese term called iki. Guy and that is your reason for getting out of bed in the morning. 

So when we get to work as a guide, we first again understand where you are today or where the client is today, then we help them to go through a process that helps them to envision where they want to be in the future. And that is just, it’s part of their imagination, their creation, we just facilitating guide them to getting something that’s relatively clear in the future and something that they think they would really enjoy. And then once we get those two points on the map, then we’re able to look at different pathways to get there. So if you start here, and you want to go to a certain point, again, whether it’s pin point, or whether it’s in general, so for instance, is the idea of a roadmap and going on a trip. So if you decided that you were going to Mexico, you might take a completely different route, there are probably many routes to get to Mexico, lots of points in Mexico that you could go to. Or you could go to Canada, you could head that way. And that’s a different direction. Those are both countries with many entry points. So you can start that journey, either going to Mexico or going to Canada, either way, and pinpointed as you get closer, because some people, usually you can see a year or two out, some of the timelines that we work on are 10 years. 

Some of them go all the way until even people are no longer on the planet, that’s part of our part of their plan is to do that, to own it and keep it and be a part of it until they’re no longer here. So we don’t have clear vision, far into the future. And sometimes we actually, in all honesty, don’t really know what’s going to happen to us tomorrow, we just have a good idea and have a plan in place. That’s about it. So once we know where they are, and help them to clarify where they want to be, then we get to help them see a pathway forward, that’s going to be fun for them. It’s been a guide is one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever been able to do in my entire career. It has created incredible relationships with people that I never thought I would know, I’ve had the opportunity, and so do our other guides have the opportunity to work with amazing advisers. So people who are incredible estate planning attorneys, people who are amazing tax strategists and tax accountants, we get to work with merger and acquisition advisors, we also get to work with people who are specialists in valuation. And just love that, helping owners to figure out how much is this thing worth when they don’t know, all part of the strategy and part of the pieces of the puzzle. 

And there’s basically financial advisors and anybody that would be a part or play a role in making sure that they’re that the clients roadmap works for them. We try to cover all the bases. So we get to be kind of a quarterback. And being the quarterback, again, there’s just amazing constant learning. I can’t tell you how much in my 20 plus years of doing this transition work. I’ve been a consultant now for almost 35 years, it’s long time makes me feel old. But it’s been quite an amazing opportunity for me and I have learned so much with regard to how businesses work, and also how people work. As you get that roadmap built and you get it developed. One thing that happens as a guide is you get to be an integrator, in a way, we get to take different people’s values and concepts and dreams of what they want, and how the business will support that. And bring them all together so that we can see everybody’s objectives. And then once that roadmap is in place, and it’s ready to go, many times we’re lucky enough to be able to work with the client work with the people transitioning and also the successors who are trying to figure out how to come in and walk them through shifting governance, shifts and thinking new things that they’re learning and doing. There’s always work on the successor side to be engaged and take something on. And many, many, many times we’re working with the people transitioning the what you would call older generation, to help them to let go

Change is always a challenge and trying to help them walk through it with ease, keep communication open, do all of those things is super rewarding. So I talked a little bit about the constant learning because and one of the cool things about the ability to be a transition guide is every single project is different. So, you know, I’m sure you’ve heard or even said it about you and your business, that well, my business is different, my business is special. And that’s true. Your business is different, your business is special. And absolutely, so are you. By the way. When you look at it, though, all the businesses have commonality. And so do the people. Like we’re all human beings, we work in a certain way, we have patterns. And same with a business, a business has similar things. It’s got sales and marketing, and it’s got finance, and it’s got processes and procedures. 

And even if you’re not doing a lot with sales and marketing is still are exploring and learning in that realm. So because there are commonalities, the framework that we have it, the transition, the transition strategists, which is my company, that framework, we built that over many, many years. And it’s been used all over the world, to help business owners try to figure out how to navigate transition and to build those roadmaps. The cool thing about that is in the framework, when you start to look into a business, even though it’s different and special, and even though all the people are different, I call them the characters, right? Because you can imagine some of the characters that are in the businesses that we need to work with, and also some of the characters that are in the family. So I think of them as characters in a book or characters on a stage on a play, that you might be watching. And when you start to look at the different people, how they operate, what is important to them in their lives, how they want to work, and what would be fulfilling to them, because different people have different things that fulfill them. 

And then you start looking at what the assets are. Is it a business? Is it a business and another business? Is it a business and some other assets, when you start to look at what those assets are, and then you start to look at the desires of those leaving, including their financial, their financial independence, once the business is gone, which is very important. You end up with what I think of as pieces of a puzzle. They’re all different pieces of a puzzle. And some of them have conflict in them. By the way. In order to be a guide, you have to be ready to walk some people through some pretty tough conversations sometimes, and do it with grace, bringing people together, it’s almost like being a I don’t know, a mediator in a way, bringing people together and helping them to see the other side. So we put all these pieces of the puzzle together once we have them and there’s always missing pieces to the puzzle. reason why is because you’re not there yet, as an owner, the clients not there. They’re just trying to figure out what do they have? How would it fit together, which pieces don’t fit together? 

Because we nobody ever gets what they want everything they want. I don’t think that that’s true in life, we always have the given the take. So we’re putting all those pieces of the puzzle together and figuring out which pieces are missing. Once we do that, as a guide, the roadmap helps us to start in a certain location and helps the client to navigate forward. The missing pieces of the puzzle or the pieces that don’t fit together are the ones that are going to be discovered on the journey. I can’t tell you how often somebody will come up to me and go, Oh, I’m not ready. I’m not ready to start this transition process. Because I don’t know what I want. I don’t know what I want. I haven’t had time to think about it. Been busy in my life busy doing what I’m doing building and growing the company. It’s a long way off, which is fine. The longer your runway, the better you the more choices you have. But they’ll say gosh, I don’t know what I want to I can’t come build the plan until I know what I want. And I like to flip that around a little bit. If I’m a, if I’m a client, let’s say I wanted to go climb a mountain that I’d never climbed before, ever might I hire a guide who had climbed it before, or taken many people on the journey, so that that guide, I could put some trust in them, we could work together. And we could get to the top together, so they can show me the ropes, they can show me the roadblocks they can show me that what I need to take along, who do I need to talk to? What do I need to do to prepare? What kind of food do I need, they can tell me all of those things. 

So when a person starts on this journey, I kind of like it, when they don’t know what they want. I think that’s the perfect time to start. Because otherwise you’re struggling to try to figure it out. And literally, you don’t have a streamlined way of doing that except to maybe go on a retreat by yourself. Or sometimes what happens is people get clarity, when something else happens, like a health scare, or somebody around them passes away, could be suddenly or not, but usually it’s a it’s usually a challenging event that happens. And it sort of resets that person who’s transitioning and says, Oh, my gosh, I want to not do this business for the rest of my life. And I’m ready to figure out something else. So in that event, also, usually they don’t know what they want, it’s just that they have the motivation to say, I gotta get on this, I’m ready. Because they’re ready for that change. I was doing a little bit of reading, and it’s on a family, just to it’s for larger companies. And basically, they’re 69% of families. 

Businesses are thinking that they’re going to transition in the next 15 years, that’s a lot. And 40% of them, of those 69 40% of the 100% don’t have a successor in mind. And they don’t believe that there’s anybody that they know, who could do the work, who could take this forward. That tells me that there’s a little bit of a dilemma out there in the marketplace, and finding that person or those people doing it the way that you want to do it. So that it’s not, it doesn’t happen. It happens by choice for you. And not by default. By default hard on people by choice is fun. So we get to guide people through not only discovering what they want for their business and for people, for themselves, for their spouses, for their families, for their employees, for their business, for their vendors, for their customers, all the people that this business touches, including their philanthropic things, like churches, and kids soccer and all those kinds of things, we get to guide people along the way, on a journey that usually they haven’t been on before. Or if they have, it was a different journey. 

They’re trying to do it differently. This time, they might have been the successor on one journey, and said, don’t want to do it that way again. So we’re doing it differently in our in our strategy and in our planning. We get to help people get through their dilemmas because we all have them. dilemmas, by definition are it’s just something that when you think about it, or envision it, you believe that there’s something that will go there’s something that you won’t want in either direction or any direction. So for instance, I’ve used this one before, and I use it all the time. Just a client that said, you know, I can’t bring my son in to work with me, because if I do, then my daughter will be angry with me because I didn’t give her husband a job. Okay. And then the dilemma is, but I want to bring my son in. I think he’s the right person to come in. I think it’d be great to be able to work with them.

And I don’t want to make my daughter I don’t want to make her mad at me to where she’ll never talk to me again. So those are fears that we have in those dilemmas and we help owners walk through them. Sometimes you can’t see if they’re true or not. It’s just the way human beings work, we, we get something in our head that might happen. And then we spin it up. We just do that. Best example of that is I was talking to a client the other day, best example is, you get a call from your doctor that says, hey, you need to have another test run on whatever, you have to have another test run, because there’s a question. And all of a sudden, you’re like, oh, my gosh, there’s a question. And then oh, my gosh, it could be this, oh, my gosh, it could be that, oh, my gosh, it could be this. 

Oh, my gosh, and by the time you get to the test, it’s like, oh, my gosh, I’m gonna die. And that, actually, our minds spin things up like that. So sometimes it’s great to have a guide, or an advisor, who says, who just stops you and asks, Is that true. And there are many, many, many, many dilemmas. As somebody navigates a transition, there’s so many of them. And they’re all different for everybody. So fun to have this framework where we put everything in, we find the pieces of the puzzle, we’re able to help them to see them the client, and help them to understand how to get from where they are today to where they want to be. The fun for me, in this is helping the clients to literally go where they want to, there’s so much opportunity in this world and so much abundance in the world that we live in, we are so fortunate to be able to be owners be able to have choices, then be able to make decisions. There’s really no reason that a strategy can’t come together, it’s just that sometimes we have the ideal strategy, that won’t happen. 

But it doesn’t mean that we’re getting any younger, doesn’t mean the business doesn’t need a successor, it doesn’t mean that the successors aren’t ready to go. And sometimes I think it feels like the person transitioning is dragging their feet a little bit. And probably we all do that, right? We all go, gosh, that’s a big challenge. And I don’t really know if I’m ready to take that on. goal is to have the client come out confident, and have the client come out with clarity. If you’re that invitation to your successor is so important. So once you have the roadmap done, and you can integrate the successors in the roadmap process and developing it, which is also great. But there are no promises that are made. In that process. There are no promises like, Oh, you’re for sure gonna get the company or you’re for sure gonna get 49% of the company, or you’re for sure gonna get anything. Because along the way, being the guide, lots of times, our clients see something new, or see something different, or see a different perspective that they haven’t looked at. There are always consequences that we’re expecting, and they’re also unintended consequences. Sometimes the unintended consequences can be good and positive. Sometimes they can be negative, unintended consequences that we just didn’t know. We’re trying to cover those unintended consequences as much as possible. So when you get the roadmap done, and you’re ready to talk to your successor, this is the fun part two is creating the invitation. 

Positioning conversations is one of my favorite things to do. somebody’s walking in and they’re gonna have a conversation and they’re ready to have that conversation and that confrontation. When just a little bit of a shift in thinking, or shift in heart, a little shift in mindset says, Well, how about if we approach it this way? So the invitation typically, is one of the most important pieces. It’s the part that says you know what you’re doing as an owner. And it is the part that then gives the successor clarity in being able to accept. So I use this example that if I invited you to dinner, and I said, Hey, would you like to come to dinner at my house? And you’ll be like, sure, when is it on? Like, I don’t know. But someday would you like to come to dinner at my house? Like or is it gonna be inside or outside? I don’t know, is it gonna be in the summer or the winter? Not really sure. But do you have any like, you know, food allergies or anything that I should keep in mind? Maybe I’ll ask that. It’s pretty hard. I could say, you can tell me Sure. I’d love to come to your house Elizabeth for dinner. But why don’t you get back to me when it’s a real invitation. And sometimes when we’re going through business transition, the owners, they start to talk like that, they say, Hey, someday this business is going to be yours. Promise. And yeah, I promise there. Some day I you’re going to be an owner someday, that would be great. Would you like to be an owner someday? Those are all good things to have. 

But in all in full transparency, and in all reality, the the successor, whoever you’re asking to weigh in on that, and respond, they have no idea what they’re responding to, they don’t know when they don’t know how much they don’t know what it means they don’t understand the taxes, they don’t understand the implications to the business, they don’t understand that the business might have to pay you and so that it won’t be able to grow as much they don’t understand that they might have to put their house up for you know, against as collateral for debt. They don’t know any of those things. So it’s very difficult. If you just say, hey, you know, the invitation, want to be an owner someday, pretty big. With this invitation, after we get the roadmap done, it’s so rewarding to give the owner enough clarity, to invite somebody else on their journey. So then they get to walk together. So if you can imagine, we started at the bottom of the mountain, we figured out where we want to go to the top of the mountain, we pick the pathway, start the path, start moving forward with the client, invite in the successor. And now there’s now they’re working together. 

And there’s guiding that can continue to be done there. To keep that relationship whole, hold accountability, make sure that they’re on track, even check in at certain, you know, certain milestones to make sure that they get to the top and they get there together. So you can see that it’s a fun thing for me to do. And we have guides in our company that are doing the same. It’s just so rewarding. And the goal is to get that roadmap done, and help those clients get clarity so that they can confidently walk forward and bring other people along. Because we all know that a great transition, business transition or asset transition that starts today is only going to be successful if you have somebody else who’s going to be your successor, and take it over. So business transition is a team sport. Anyway, being a transition guide, I’ve been doing it for a long, long time built the whole company and my whole life around it. And I so enjoy it that I wake up every day and can’t wait to be able to work with a client and help them get to where they want to go. So thank you for joining me today in the business transition roadmap. I hope that me sharing being a guide. And what it means gives you an idea of what my role is in the process or what my guides role is in the process. And also maybe gave you a few insights into some of the things that the clients are trying to figure out along the way. So thanks for joining, and I’ll see you next time. Thank you for listening to this episode of the business transition roadmap. If you are listening to this and you find yourself wanting to go deeper into these topics and start the process of putting together your transition strategy. I’d love to offer you a free initial strategy session with my team, where we’ll help you to explore the future transition of your business, head over to www dot transition strategies.com To schedule a call. Thank you again for listening, and I’ll see you on the next episode of the business transition roadmap.


The Business Transition Roadmap with Elizabeth Ledoux

How do communities thrive? When businesses experience healthy growth and transition. Join CEO of The Transition Strategists, Elizabeth Ledoux as she and her guests identify what makes a successful business transition roadmap. If you know you want to transition or exit your business “one day”, today is the right day to start planning. This show will give you the roadmap.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, you can check out other episodes here: Podcasts – The Transition Strategists
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