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What is keeping you awake at night?


What is keeping you awake at night?

By , August 21, 2018

Focusing on business succession and exit planning is often a matter of facilitating solutions to other more pressing problems first.

We often ask our clients, “What’s keeping you awake at night? What’s worrying you? What are the issues that you are finding difficult to solve within the business (or otherwise)?”. If these pressing issues are unresolved then there is little point in trying to provide strategic solutions or an exit strategy.

With several clients in the last few months we have had to stop our normal process and introduce one of our referral partners to solve specific issues. To complete a valuation for example, we often ask for three or four years financial statements. Occasionally, “these haven’t yet been completed by our accountant” is the response we get. This highlights a much greater problem. In my view, business owners must be surrounded by proactive advisers. In the case of an accountant, someone who is prepared to meet on a quarterly basis to review their current financial position and provide proactive advice. On this basis we recommended a change of accountant prior to finalising our strategy. This has led to substantial improvements in financial performance within the business and we are now able to use accurate and reliable information to complete our business valuation and introduce an employee share plan to fund succession planning within the business.

In another example, the business owner was very stressed and completely unable to focus on key business issues as both he and his wife were working ridiculous hours within the business. He was stressed and worried and this uncertainty and distraction had rubbed off on the staff. The business was leaderless and was basically wandering around aimlessly. As a result again, we had to stop our process and introduce a business coach who is now working on resolving these issues to allow us to have the strategic conversations we need to have in the future.

One of the greatest traps for a business adviser is to be so focused on their solution they lose sight of the fact that something else is keeping the business owner awake at night, and therefore unable to even see the solution or how it might pan out within their business.

Want to have a chat about what’s keeping you awake at night? Book an obligation-free appointment with one of our advisers today.

Craig West

Craig West

Executive Chairman | Succession Plus

Craig West is a strategic accountant with over 20 years of experience advising business owners. His background as a CPA in public practice has provided invaluable experience in the key issues of concern to business owners.

In March 2014, Craig was appointed Executive Chairman of the SME Association of Australia, Australia’s largest small business organisation representing over 300,000 business owners.

In October 2014, he was awarded the Exit Planner of the Year at the Exit Planning Institute Annual Conference in Texas, USA, due to his innovative development of an exit planning process to help business owners maximise business value and achieve a successful exit.

Craig’s proprietary structure - a Peak Performance Trust - has won the Australia-wide award for the Employee Share Ownership Plan of the year twice in four years.

In November 2018, Craig launched SME Experts in partnership with Mark Bouris’ Mentored on Podcast One and quickly grew the monthly podcast audience to over 26,500 downloads; in October 2019, he released a new podcast focused on medium-sized businesses - Mid-Market Matters.

In July 2021, Craig joined the NSW Committee for STEP (Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners) – focusing on advising families across generations.

Craig has also launched a SaaS platform, Capitaliz (which captures the 21-step process), to assist other advisers internationally deliver advisory services at scale.

In November 2021, Craig was appointed Executive Chairman of NSW Leaders, a business mentoring group for leading NSW businesses.

In July 2022, Craig West received the award of Doctor of Business Administration for his research thesis titled “Examination of the key factors driving business exit options in Australian Small and Medium Enterprises.”

Craig is passionate about encouraging business owners to think strategically, maximise the value of their business and achieve a successful exit.

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