Peter Christman’s rise to success didn’t follow the traditional belief of work hard and keep your head down. He worked hard, sure, but his big moment was a singular idea—an epiphany that changed his future.
Back in 2000, Christman was independently working with privately owned businesses to sell their businesses using an exclusive auction process on the open market. Then he had the idea of an extensive exit planning process, which came to him because he realized his clients were focused on the transaction and not on tax-planning, estate-planning, and life-planning issues. They were planning after the liquidity event, instead of before it when they could keep a greater percentage of the proceeds and receive greater benefits from this planning.
Among other things, the process details the precise moment in which business owners can get the best value for their company, factoring in tax planning and the liquidity process. This revelation led to co-publishing the book The 10 Trillion Dollar Opportunity in 2005 and founding the Exit Planning Institute in 2006.
Just like the companies he worked with, Christman sold the Exit Planning Institute in 2012 and now solely focuses on the Master Planning Process. Rather than selling companies, his team mentors business owners through the exit planning process, helping them maximize and maintain the value they get for their business.
To do this, Christman has developed a process that he depicts in what he calls The Three Legs of the Stool:
First Leg: Maximize the value of the business.
Second Leg: Create a personal plan that includes your tax, estate, and financial points of view. This ensures that you keep most of what you get from that value.
Third Leg: Develop a life plan so you can picture how productive your life will be after you transition from your business. This is historically the most neglected part of the process.
The three legs guide a business owner through the pre-transition, the transition, and the post-transition events, both in their business life and personal life. “We are the only company that coordinates all three legs of the stool in an integrated process,” Christman says. “I am really proud of that because it’s a really valuable service for business owners to help them hit their goals and objectives.”
When asked about his target audience, the exact business owner he wants to help, Christman is very specific: “Baby Boomers who own privately held companies, whose values are between 2-3 million to 150-200 million. Those are the people that we can really mentor for the rest of their life.”
Christman says the real challenge is to educate business owners and their advisors on the value of this process. The problem is that most of these advisors work in silos and don’t function as a team for the business owner. In these scenarios, Christman says, “It’s really an educational process to educate the advisor,” once they “find out that we are not a threat to them and their style,” that is.
It is the integrated three-legged stool process that allows Christman to have positive relationships with people who might otherwise be considered his competition. Of those people, Christman says, “They’re pleased to work with us…and once they’ve been educated on our process, they love it.” It becomes a true team process. And the benefits to the business owner are enormous compared to current procedures in transitioning a business.
Christman understands that business owners are suspect of any type of advisor and are “always wondering what the hook is.” He truly believes, however, that business owners have to realize that they are human and have a responsibility to themselves, to their families, and to their employees to have a Master Planning strategy.
He provides the statistic, 50 percent of business owners leave their business through “The 5 D’s”: death, divorce, disability, debt, or disaster. “There is no excuse for doing that,” he says. “There are no guarantees in life, and families depend on that business owner being responsible.”
Christman has a new book out called The Master Plan that details all of these processes and much more. The book is purposely designed to be a short read, perfect for busy business owners who don’t have a lot of time on their hands
About Peter Christman
Peter Christman is the founder and CEO of the Christman Group. Peter sold privately held companies on the open market with an exclusive auction marketing process. He made his claim to fame with creating and founding the exit planning process, which lays out, among other things, how to get the greatest value for your company. In 2005, he co-wrote the book The 10 Trillion Dollar Opportunity (a book about the plight of Baby Boomers in the coming years) and co-founded the Exit Planning Institute the following year.
Today, he no longer sells companies, but mentors business owners through the Master Planning Process, which ensures they get the best value from their business and achieve their lifelong goals and objectives. He also is founding the Master Planning Institute to educate business owners and their advisors in the Master Planning Process.