The process of selling your business can be complex, as explained in our our accompanying article. In this particular case study, we talk to one Barclays client about how he secured his own successful exit strategy, including his motivation to sell and what the end result has meant for him and his family.

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Having invested so much hard work and dedication into building a successful business, there often comes a time when entrepreneurs decide that an exit strategy is the logical next step. Whether motivated by the financial returns on offer, the desire to do something different, or a combination of both, the decision to sell marks the beginning of a journey which can be immensely rewarding, but only if managed correctly from beginning to end.

Entrepreneurial business ventures also have a unique layer of emotional attachment for the seller, and Hugh Templeton’s decision to sell his educational business had extra significance for his family, having initially collaborated with his twin brothers to establish a leading brand of private colleges in London.  An accountant by trade, he entered into partnership with his brothers – one of whom was a teacher, with the other brother working in marketing - after spotting a gap in the market for the style of teaching which they offered. As he explains, “I became a partner with my brothers, after first setting up exam ‘crammer’ colleges, and then we diversified into sixth form colleges having seen a further opportunity.”

Motivation to build, motivation to sell

As with so many entrepreneurs, Hugh explains that he has, “Always been fundamentally competitive and really enjoys the chase for success. The money wasn’t important to me other than one of the measures of success, and it was nice to be in an industry which was helping young people do well.” Understandably proud of his achievements, he realised it was time to sell when a family successor was looking increasingly unlikely, and after an approach from an interested party.

As he explains, “I had a tremendously good relationship with my Relationship Manager, Ian Baldwin. I was impressed by the fact that he wasn’t just a bank manager on the other side of the desk. There was more trust – rather than sticking to the computerised analysis of whether something should be done or not.”  This business relationship in-turn led to an introduction to Michael Barrett in the Wealth Management team, and they started working together to establish a clear exit strategy, identifying potential pitfalls.

“When I first met Hugh, it was evident that an exit strategy was in his best interests, and he had put a lot of thought into the timing and the significance of walking away from something which he so clearly held close to his heart”, says Michael. “I feel we developed a relationship based on trust early on, which was invaluable when discussing the sale of the business and Hugh’s long term goals.”

Education, education, education

Although under no illusions that the sales process was going to be easy, Hugh revealed that after 30 years of building a teaching enterprise, he embarked on a brand new learning process once the wheels were in motion for the sale. Describing the negotiations as being an, “educative process”, he was pleased that he was able to lean on Barclays’ expertise and guidance. Even when he needed tax advice, which is a service Barclays doesn’t provide, the bank was able to draw on its network of contacts and introduced him to a leading global accountancy firm. In his words, “there is an awful lot of jargon and complexity involved in an exit strategy, and I was always grateful that Michael’s team gave me as much time as I needed, to ensure that I was happy. I consider myself a good businessman and entrepreneur, but I was relatively ignorant in matters relating to personal finance, stock markets and investments.”

What next?

With the sale completed just 7 months after the first meeting between Michael and Hugh, he is taking full advantage of his rekindled love for travel, and Africa in particular. He has also embarked on a new property venture with his son but as Michael explains, it is far from the end of the journey: “Over the last 12 months, Barclays has helped many clients secure a rewarding exit, but the post-sale process shouldn’t be underestimated. Making sure your money is safe and working to its full potential is a constant challenge, particularly at a time of economic uncertainty. We have a global network of expertise to lean on at Barclays, and are perfectly positioned to help clients during and after an exit. I look forward to many more years working with Hugh.”

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