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Last week was one of those weeks I will never forget.

Entrepreneur Retires

Over the course of a few days, we closed a business acquisition and celebrated with another client his retirement afterforty plus years of entrepreneurship. These back-to-back events served to prove the truth that in life one will get what one gives. No matter how long it takes, how you treat others will catch up to you. Good or bad. And last week, I saw firsthand the consequences of how two entrepreneurs lived their lives from both ends of the spectrum.

Special Assets Departments vs. The Entrepreneur

In the past, I’ve shared stories about Special Assets Department bankers who work with entrepreneurs in financial trouble. Employees who work in this department, often referred to as the bank’s work out group, make entrepreneur’s lives difficult. And I am being kind. Last week was no different.

As we sat at the closing table, my client was prepared to purchase a business and payoff its line of credit in full. This is music to the ears of a workout group bank officer. Or so you would think. Unfortunately, the owner of the target business had a bad habit of not returning telephone calls from the workout group banker , and it came back to haunt him. You see, when it came time to wire the buyer’s money to pay off the business line of credit, the workout group banker went radio silent. For four hours we were unable to make contact with the banker to obtain acknowledgement of the wire transfer and finalize the deal. It seemed the banker decided it would be a good time to delay returning the seller’s phone call.

Businesses do not change hands until the transaction attorneys on both sides bless the transfer. And without the banker’s confirmation, there was no deal. You get what you give.

Another Entrepreneur’s Retirement Party

The next day, I attended a retirement party for another entrepreneur who completed his two year employment and earn out agreement. This was quite a different scene. As I parked my car, I began to choke up. I wasn’t expecting that. I was truly looking forward to attending a party and had no intentions of crying!

During the retirement party, the company’s key employees recounted this man’s entrepreneurial journey as if they were roasting a rock star. It was absolutely hysterical. More than one hundred attendees were listening and laughing to the point of tears. And then I realized it. I wasn’t the only one in the room who appreciated how this entrepreneur treated others and this time it wasn’t tears of laughter I was fighting back.

One employee after another shared their stories about how this entrepreneur always did the right thing. He put their welfare in front of his own again and again for forty years. Was it always pretty? No. And that’s what makes it so beautiful. This entrepreneur was totally transparent. He made mistakes, owned up to them and could laugh about it. But above it all, he kept his promises. Reverence for this entrepreneur was immeasurable. You get what you give.

As I reflect on the events of last week, it became apparent to me how these two entrepreneurs ended their entrepreneurial journeys exactly the way they lead their lives.

 

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Holly Magister, CPA, CFP

Holly A. Magister, CPA, CFP®, is the founder of Enterprise Transitions, LP, an Emerging Business and Exit Planning firm. She helps entrepreneurs assess, re-align, and accelerate their business with the intent of ultimately executing its top-dollar sale.
Holly also founded ExitPromise.com and to date has answered more than 2,000 questions asked by business owners about starting, growing and selling a business.
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