Keep Your Day Job

By Andy Stockett

A few gray hairs ago, I worked in the Capital Markets Group at Raymond James. For almost 10 years, I helped numerous companies raise capital through initial public offerings and follow-on financings involving both debt and equity.

I changed gears in the mid-90s when I became the CFO of a micro-brewery chain headquartered in Chattanooga. Although moving into the restaurant sphere was a shift for me, my experience in the financial industry served me well as I navigated the ins and outs of growing what became a $90 million company. In spite of my capital markets experience – or perhaps, because of it – I always hired an advisor when the company was positioned to make an acquisition.

You might ask why I spent money on an advisor when I was capable of doing the deal myself. The answer: I wasn’t capable of doing the deal myself. Sure, I had the expertise, the know-how and the network. But I also had a company to run. Initiating and executing a transaction wasn’t included in my job description, and there wasn’t room for it.

Advisors don’t make your job easier; rather, they enable you to keep doing your job. Meanwhile, if you’re unfamiliar with the deal process, they’ll minimize the learning curve. And even if you’ve done it before, like I had, advisors will be an extra set of eyes, watching out for the curveballs – and there are always curveballs.

Equally important: Advisors can be a much-needed source of objectivity. Money isn’t the only thing that’s invested in a transaction. Any owner who has sold a business knows that emotions can run high.

I’ve been back on the advisory side for a while now. But if I ever find myself in the C-suite again, facing a transaction, I’ll remind myself of the wise words my wife shared with me the year I decided to cure hams in our garage: Keep your day job.

And I’ll hire an advisor.