Key Takeaways: the 2016 Metro St. Louis Owners Summit

By all accounts, the 2016 Metro St. Louis Owners Summit was tremendously successful. The summit included cross-industry professionals from legal, valuation, tax, banking, and private equity who gave business owners constructive information on how to protect and maximize value. Billed as a “one of a kind educational event,” it seems to have been just that.

In addition to featuring New York Times Top 10 Best Selling author Tom Deans as the keynote speaker, the Summit also featured a number of expert panelists. A few of them shared the key takeaways from this year’s summit.

Jim Maher, CEO and founder of Archford Capital Strategies and one of the organizers of the event pointed out that it is critical for owners to:

  • identify the drivers of value and threats to value of the organization
  • know the key advantages and disadvantages of exit options
  • take advantage of the knowledge
    of key experts and thought leaders
    , such as those presenting at the summit
  • prepare financially by making sure records are up-to-date and readily
  • prepare emotionally by asking yourself if you are ready to leave the business and walk out the door, leaving behind your role as a prominent business owner.

Maher also emphasized the importance of keynote speaker Tom Deans’ point about the value of a family meeting in family-owned businesses. Said Maher, “I saw just how important this should be in the mind of the business owner. It keeps the family engaged in the business and reduces the chances of any ‘surprises’ if the owner retires or passes away while leading the company.”

Sara Stock, Founding Member of Stock Legal, LLC, found the “Company Characteristics” for private equity—a combination of strong business model and
value proposition, identifiable and manageable risks, compelling and conceivable growth strategy, and people and leadership— intriguing. She learned that 25+ employees is the threshold for a sensible ESOP and found that to be a good rule of thumb to use when talking with clients about viable exit options. She also noted that there is a real need to educate owners on the exit process. “The owners I have met take the decision to exit very seriously and want to take every step possible to successfully exit,” observed Stock.

Finally, Martin Myers, Managing Partner and Founder of pePartners, pointed to these key takeaways from the 2016 Metro St. Louis Owners Summit:

  • Owners should not delay their transition plans. Tom Deans pointed out that over 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day and that a majority of business owners wait too long to transition their business (often times, the business is losing value, instead of increasing in value, at that point).
  • According to statistics shared at the summit, only around 30% of businesses transition successfully from the 1st generation to the 2nd generation.
  • Owners should evaluate selling to private equity as one of their strategic options. If they sell and choose to keep some equity in the business, the right private equity partner can help the company expand and grow to the next level. This can be a tremendous way for an owner to maximize wealth over the long-term.

Business owners who attended the event received real strategies and knowledge to better prepare them for growth or exiting. In fact, 2016 Metro St. Louis Owners Summit was so popular among attendees—with 99% saying they would be likely to attend next year’s event—that it might be wise to start planning for the 2017 Summit, to be held on November 17, 2017. Save the date!

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