Your Business, Your Future at the Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh
What a stunning venue for an event: the private yacht of the royal family. Impossibly luxurious, yet somehow cosy and homely. Launched in the Queen’s coronation year, and in service until 1997; it is now an incredible time capsule of history, where presidents, dignitaries and megastars were entertained, Frank Sinatra crooned, and Charles and Diana spent their honeymoon. All the clocks onboard read one-minute past three; the precise moment the vessel was decommissioned.
On one of the coldest nights of the year – with snowfall looming - BCMS was there too. We were hosting a dinner and discussion event with our partners, investment management specialists Rathbones and Brodies LLP, one of Scotland’s leading law firms. The topic: succession planning, exit strategy and business sales, set in the opulent surroundings of the State Dining Room. Our guests included owners of businesses across sectors and borders, including some of Scotland’s highest-profile companies, alongside our own past clients.
Despite the formal surrounding, the keynote for the night was surely fun. Brodies’ Alan Barr spoke eloquently and humorously on the role of the corporate lawyer in any business sale transaction. Rathbones Simon Dewar offered brilliant insights on how to secure your financial future post sale: with a 277-year history, and over £44bn under investment, Rathbones know a thing or two about maximising investment. BCMS Dave Rebbettes gave a fascinating, fast-paced insight into the key aspects of any transaction – the four pillars of a business sale. What he said resonated with many owner-managers there. As one delegate told me later: “This evening has certainly changed my thinking.”
We finished the night with an open Q&A with the only people who can really tell you what to expect from a business sale: our former clients. On the panel were Alison Cooper, formerly of En Route International, John Ward of Scotland’s Fasteq, and Marc Wileman, who may be known to you from BBC TV’s Dragons’ Den. His award-winning science education business Sublime Science received investment from two dragons: Nick Jenkins and Sarah Willingham. Advised by BCMS, he sold to private equity last year.
These three are all exceptional speakers, and they answered some probing audience questions with straight-talking, clear-thinking intelligence. Alison – ready to launch her next venture - discussed how an earn-out can be the best option for business owners longer-term, both financially and personally. Ever the hard-wired entrepreneur, John described his post-sale ventures; amongst other things, he’s now chairman of Scottish Premier side Livingston FC. Marc spoke freely on the emotional aspects of a deal: what it feels like to sell a business you have built from nothing but the germ of an idea.
Inspiring and informative; this trio are proof of the power of a business sale to change your life, and the perfect conclusion to a thought-provoking evening.