Unsuccessful Succession Plans

My Uncle Joe seems to be in a perpetual state of selling his business. Seriously, he’s been in a state of stepping out of it for what feels a good twenty years now; his exit strategy is forever being amended. It makes me wonder if he’s ever been serious about retiring. He’s about to turn 80, though, and his health is beginning to insist that something needs to change. 

Not that I’m any kind of expert on succession planning for business. Melbourne might not be the easiest city in which to sell a publishing company, especially one that specialises in printing novelty year planners – its competitors are all digital these days. Still, business is pretty decent, and it seems like there should have been at least one prospective buyer out there over the past decade.

Granted, the whole thing of buying and selling businesses must be a bit of a process. For starters, there are the partnership and shareholder agreements to take care of, insurance arrangements to be made, and all that jazz. Then there’s the question of finding a buyer who’s willing to pay the asking price, and – in Uncle Joe’s case – making sure they won’t proceed to ride roughshod over your life’s work.

I’m not sure what can be done about the last point, other than allowing the sale process to be drawn out for as long as need be. I assume that’s what’s causing the hold up. Still, I do wonder if Uncle Joe has sought assistance with the more technical matters. I mean, he might be a CEO, but he’s no legal expert.

Who are the best commercial lawyers, Melbourne business people? If I know Uncle Joe, I know that he prefers to present as someone who’s able to do all things single handedly, and I suspect he’s resisted recruiting assistance for this reason.

Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s great that he’s still has the energy to be at it. But I’m getting the impression that he’s finally at the point of wanting to cash in his hard-earned retirement.