Just about everyone with an IT services business has given at least some thought to getting out.
But noticeably few give much thought to passing their companies along to relatives, according to HTG Peer Groups founder and CEO Arlin Sorensen.
Next month, Sorensen is inviting business owners to Omaha, Neb., for the HTG Legacy Summit, a two-day gathering to learn about business transition, with a special focus on generational transition.
The Sept. 13 and 14 sessions will be held partly at “The Farm,” close to nearby Harlan, Iowa – Sorensen’s home and the location of HTG’s offices.
“There are a couple surprising things to me as I consult with business owners,” Sorensen explained in an online description of the event. “First, they often don’t even consider the possibility of transitioning their business to family.”
“On a number of occasions, as an owner considers options for transition, I’ll ask if they have discussed it with family members,” he went on. “Almost always, the answer is ‘I don’t need to do that, I already know they aren’t interested,’ at which point I typically insist that they have the conversation because more often than not they are wrong.
“And even if the outcome is not for those folks to take over the company, they do have input into the legacy related to it.”
Folks who visit The Farm are subject to a unique experience in which they're more likely to appreciate HTG's rural roots and how it contributes to the broader peer group culture.
"It allows us to give them exposure to agriculture and how technology has changed that world, which is particularly relevant with the focus on IoT and all the change that lies ahead," Sorensen said. "People love climbing into the big tractors and seeing technology at work."
HTG typically holds three of four events at The Farm, in addition to a number of smaller activities.
"We’re proud of our heritage and love to show people the reality that you can run a successful business from anywhere - even from the middle of an Iowa cornfield," he said.
The summit is open to anyone – regardless of industry or HTG membership – and is deliberately priced low enough to encourage families to attend together.
Cost is $249 per person or $149 for HTG members.
In his experience, Sorensen said, business owners tend to underestimate the complexity of transitioning a business to relatives.
“It is filled with landmines and challenges…but so is every other transition method,” he said. “It’s not easy, and we want to do everything we can to equip you with the facts and some creative ideas to make things work for all concerned.”
In addition to Sorensen, scheduled speakers include estate and probate attorney Robert D. Hodges, and family business expert and author Wayne Rivers.
For more information or to register, visit the HTG Legacy Summit webpage.