A potential client asked me yesterday what I mean by Plan The Last Day First. Rather than give her our well honed explanation I pointed her at yesterday's post on Jerry Solomon’s blog.
We don’t disclose our work with our clients unless they choose to do so. So everything here is information that Jerry or his partner Mindy Goldberg have already openly discussed on Jerry’s blog or on our website.
When we first met Mindy, Jerry and Jeff Preiss they were engaged in a process of redefining their partnership. A process that challenges the most self-effacing and self-aware by demanding that you compare your value with that of other human beings.
Conversations about better or worse anything quickly become emotional. Add to that the financial stakes of sharing the ownership of a business and you get, as Jerry described it, a recipe for impasse.
They hired us to help. We were able to do so. And the impasse was resolved.
Which is part one of the story.
Part two manifested itself in Jerry’s blog yesterday.
We believe that the best companies are built from passion, and towards a purpose.
Most business owners depend heavily on the passion part of the equation. And spend little time defining where they want to end up.
Which seems to miss the opportunity to apply one of the few constants in the life of an entrepreneur. The absolute inevitability that there will be an end.
Some entrepreneurs love what they do so much that they want to die doing it. Others want to capitalize on their success by selling their business one day. In either case, leaving behind a legacy of all the effort, thought and personal investment becomes increasingly important to owners over time.
Many business owners treat the end as an issue to be avoided until their own enthusiasm starts to wane. By which time their ability to affect their own outcome lies somewhere between limited and non-existent. We see this particularly in creative companies, whose founders have a difficult time separating their own value from that of the business.
However, it is the ability of an owner to ultimately make themselves irrelevant to the success of the company that creates the most dynamic future for any business. By empowering the employees left behind. Increasing dramatically the value the business has to potential buyers, or a new generation of owners. And ensuring the DNA of its founders lives on in the soul of a business long after they have ceased to be its daily heartbeat.
In Jerry’s blog yesterday he describes the decision to hire Lisa Margulis as his replacement as, “a conscious choice on whether to remain a life style business or build a company that lasts beyond the partners.”
This is the essence of Plan The Last Day First.
And the key word is conscious.
Every business owner makes a choice about the future of their company every day. Many times they don't recognize it as such. But in all aspects of life, the absence of a conscious decision to do something is an unconscious decision not to.
Deciding to take control of your future requires that you be willing to give up some control of the present. By involving others and helping them to grow. A win-win on a thousand levels.
I don’t know Lisa personally. But I suspect that she will enjoy working at Epoch a great deal.
Both because it is a company filled with extraordinarily talented, inquisitive, genuine people.
And because its owners are building a business that is committed as much to her future as it is theirs.