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a blog by Chris Barrow

What would happen if you never sold your business?

Thursday morning I was coaching my most successful UK client and the ONLY client I work with on a 1:1 basis. He took me back to my financial planning days by showing me a future cash flow forecast he has created, showing his net worth and income from his current age of 45 through to an assumed life expectancy of age 90. How’s about that? Planning assets and income 45 years ahead? Obviously the planning assumptions could be way out over time – but they can be tweaked regularly to reflect experience. The objective of the exercise was to help him answer a fundamental question – “what age should I be planning to sell my business?” I’ll fast track you to a surprising conclusion that we reached after an hour’s discussion – answer = never. Never sell your business. That’s radical – what about life balance, what about a golden retirement, what about health and ability? The scientific answer was that his business provides the highest return on investment (ROI) of any asset that he owns – by miles. So why would you sell the cash cow? Because you either don’t want to or cannot go to work anymore? But here is the distinction – you can stop going to work but still own it. We have decided that his biggest business objective for the next 3 years (and I’ll be working closely with him) is to re-create his business without him showing up (but still owning it). Strategy – a cash cow that will last 45 years. Tactics – build a world-class management team operating robust systems + groom a leader. This will be a fascinating project.

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