Steve Coleman, who leads the Transition Services Group for the Platinum Group, an Eden Prairie-based business advisory and turnaround consulting firm, says he realized that more and more of his clients “were coming to that time when they needed to think about starting to do positive things to step into the next stage of life.” The problem, however, is that these “very focused and very get-it-done people don’t like being told by a consultant what to do.”
But Coleman believed that family business owners would listen to other owners and entrepreneurs, particularly those who’d successfully made their transition. Ten years ago, to provide a place for these comrades in commerce to meet, talk, listen and learn, Coleman created the Transition Forum. At these monthly, invitation-only meetings, a group of about 25 business owners gathers to hear the story of a business owner who has moved from leading a business into a new life direction. The forum offers a chance for family business owners to learn for themselves why a transition plan is beneficial, both personally and for the sake of the business.
Tom Hubler, founder of the Hubler for Business Families consultancy and the creator of the Minnesota Family Business Awards, praises Coleman’s efforts to encourage family business owners and other entrepreneurs to confront transition. Having a clearer picture about what the next stage in one’s life comprises “is part of being able to formulate and tell your story,” Hubler adds.
Transition can be a complex process, one that family business owners need to address early. “You need estate planners, wills, trusts, buy-sell agreements, valuations, financial planners, business planners,” Coleman says. “Very often, the thing that is left to the end deserves and requires the most forethought.” -
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