April 23, 2020

Building Maximum Value for Your Business is No Day at the Beach – Or Is It?

By Mike Trabert, CPA, CVA, CMAP, CEPA, CM&AA, Partner, Advisory Services

man on beach with laptop Transaction Advisory

Author’s note: The current COVID-19 situation impacting our country and our world is deadly serious, and it likely will continue evolving in the weeks and months ahead. While the event and associated learnings described below occurred before cases of the virus were reported and later confirmed here in the U.S., I hope that when better times return, you will consider the Owners’ Roundtable a valuable event worth looking forward to, both personally and professionally. I send my sincerest wishes for safety and health to everyone, and I will continue to hold those already impacted by the virus in my thoughts and prayers.

Picture this: It’s mid-January, and I’m ensconced in a plush lounge chair amidst the silky white sands of beautiful Turks and Caicos. Ocean waves lap gently upon the shore, the sun casts its brilliant luminescence and a cool breeze envelops this ethereal, groovacious chill-verse. As I sip my umbrella drink from a Tiki mug, I can’t help but think how truly blessed I am.

But wait…

Group Photo

These feelings of gratitude aren’t tied to my current situation. I’ll admit—it’s a nice gig. But what really warms my heart with joy at this moment is knowing that the reason I’m in beautiful Turks and Caicos is to help business owners maximize business value, eventually exit on their terms and by doing so, make their dreams come true.

The 19th Owners’ Roundtable (and second international edition) took 15 business owners and their significant others (including four repeat Owners’ Roundtable attendees) on a once-in-a-lifetime value acceleration journey. These owners come from different backgrounds, run different types of businesses and find themselves at different stages of their careers, but they all share a common goal of building maximum value for their business.

Of course, attaining that isn’t easy. Ask any business owner, and they’ll be the first to admit it. In fact, the biggest business challenge that many Roundtable attendees cited was the need to work on the business—not in the business. After all, it’s just not feasible to grow a business and build measurable value when you as an owner are mired in its daily minutiae.


The Owners’ Roundtable is designed to help participants meet this challenge – and it offers a wealth of additional strategies and practical tactics to position a business for a successful transition in good times or bad. In our Turks and Caicos workshop, (as with all Owners’ Roundtable workshops), we explored in detail the Five Stages of Value Maturity that I wrote about in my e-book: (1) Identify value; (2) Protect value; (3) Build value; (4) Harvest value; and (5) Manage value. Half-day sessions occurred in the mornings, which left plenty of time for reflection (and other pursuits) in the afternoons.

What else was on the minds of workshop participants in Turks and Caicos? Plenty, it turns out. Many attendees cited significant concerns about preparing their business to properly leverage the expected tidal wave in business transitions over the next five to 10 years. According to the Exit Planning Institute, approximately 50% of private U.S. businesses are expected to transition within the next five years—and up to 75% are expected to transition over the next 10 years. The market for private domestic businesses is on the cusp of significant change. Attendees of the 19th Owners’ Roundtable understand this and are taking steps to position their businesses accordingly. If you own a business, you should, too.

Some other challenges of note cited by participants (see if these sound familiar to you):

  • How the four types of intellectual capital (human, customer, structural and social) create value
  • Tactics for building value now (e.g., implementing systems, processes and technology)
  • Driving revenue
  • Enhancing internal culture through targeted initiatives
  • Building and nurturing employee engagement through best practice human capital management

A Picturesque Backdrop for Deep Discussions and Creative Thinking About Business Value – and More

No two Owners’ Roundtables are exactly alike. While foundational elements are consistently taught, each workshop includes a diverse roster of attendees and sparks unique discussions about value acceleration challenges with insights and ideas you can’t find elsewhere. Still, holding the workshop amidst the splendor of paradise offers participants added value—some expected, some not.


How so? It’s natural that being in a beautiful, sunny and warm locale during the depths of winter allows us to unwind, unplug, kick off our shoes, set aside the aforementioned daily minutiae and open our minds to new ideas and new possibilities. With this year’s Turks and Caicos workshop (and last year’s Caribbean/Cuba cruise), this happened in abundance, which sparked dialogues about business issues that haven’t traditionally been covered in past workshops. Notably, attendees shared stories about challenges in their own businesses. For this workshop, one case related to a family transition, while the other touched on issues associated with the sale of their family business. Sometimes, we just have to remove ourselves from our everyday comfort zones in order to see things differently (in this case, in a zone of distinctly different comfort).

As for unexpected value, this year’s international Roundtable featured a brand-new exercise designed to help participants broadly understand the attractiveness and readiness of their business for transition. Owners used a ranking system to evaluate dozens of factors related to their business in order to determine a generally accurate strategic business value—and quantify the value gap with its potential value.

We also unveiled a new exercise this year – Grouper Tank – which is modeled on the enormously popular show Shark Tank and used a fictitious business – Cabana Cigar Company – to help underscore the vital importance of value drivers and detractors—and also of being truly prepared to sell one’s business.

Beach Chair

And how’s this for unexpected value? On the last day of the Roundtable sessions, we were extremely blessed to be joined by the Hon. Mme Justice Margaret Ramsay-Hale, Chief Justice of the Turks and Caicos Supreme Court. The Hon. Mme Justice spoke to participants about the multifaceted effects of culture on law.

It’s true: maximizing business value isn’t a day at the beach. But on this particular beach, at this particular time, the challenge was brought into manageable focus. Overall, business owners who attended came away energized and armed with 90-day action items for relentless execution to propel them on the superhighway to value acceleration—and keep the momentum going en route.

In case you’re wondering about next year’s international Roundtable, I’m ecstatic to announce that it’s planned for a long Valentine’s Day weekend – again at a fabulous Caribbean resort – from February 11-15. As always, I look forward to future Owners’ Roundtable workshops – on white sands and terra firma – and I encourage business owners who are interested in attending to contact me to learn more.

Do you have questions about maximizing the value of your business or value acceleration/exit planning issues? Please contact Mike Trabert, CPA/CVA/CMAP/CEPA, CM&AA, at 440.459.5700 or [email protected].