Lindquist & Vennum’s Owner-Managed Businesses practice responds to the unique needs of owners of middle market and lower middle market businesses. Our service offerings are built on the proposition that attorneys can, and should form an integral part of business owners’ on-going efforts to build the value of their businesses. We work on an everyday basis to help build the infrastructure on which solid growth is built. That includes processes, relationships and the other intangible assets that are such a key component of establishing value. We also assist owners manage risk as their businesses grow and become more complicated.
Most importantly, we invest in learning both the businesses we represent and the characteristics of the owners of those businesses. That enables us to add value in two critical areas. One is to act as an outsourced general counsel to help owners analyze potential legal services investments to address either problems or opportunities, recognizing that there are many other calls on those company resources and we both succeed over the long haul if those resources are invested prudently. The second is to serve as a “sounding board”, and resource for information about potentially applicable experiences of other businesses, for owners who often don’t have deep executive benches. Our Owner-Managed Businesses practice is firmly grounded in the importance we attach to development of long-term relationships.
We integrate attorneys from other practice areas into the Owner-Managed Businesses practice in an effort to deliver maximum familiarity with the needs of each client regardless of the type of business issue being addressed. For more information about our multi-disciplinary approach, link to OMB Service Model.
Our clients offer a broad array of products and services. Differences in industries can create differences in how positioning for success gets accomplished. Ultimately, though, the common denominator in what we strive to accomplish for every business owner is to continually work to position that business owner for successful transfer of his or her business at the value, and on the timing, that meets the owner’s needs. For that reason, Business Transition Planning is a key focus area of our practice.
Our Owner-Managed Businesses practice employs a multi-disciplinary team approach to helping business owners and executives solve business problems and take advantage of business opportunities. Our model is specifically designed to serve the interests of the type of clients we represent. To successfully implement our model, we need user-friendly service providers possessing a broad array of skills and experience who understand how to cost-efficiently meet clients’ needs. We’re confident that we have that team.
Effective and efficient responses to your needs require us to understand your business at the time the problem or opportunity is presented. That includes understanding the goals of its owners. For those reasons, we continuously invest our own time and resources in ways that enable us to stay updated on the needs, progress and plans of client businesses and their owners.
A key outgrowth of that investment is our ability to offer you the ability to directly contact a OMB team member whose area of concentration most closely lines ups with your current need. Matters that involve business transactions or business planning can be addressed to an OMB attorney whose primary focus is in that area. Calls about matters that involve hiring, firing, motivating or retaining employees can be directed to a different team member without fear that you’ll be dealing with someone who isn’t, or won’t quickly be up to speed on the dynamics of your unique situation. The same service style and personal business knowledge will be available for matters that involve software licensing, technology or problems unique to doing business online; matters that involve real estate purchases, financing and leases; matters where the risks involved, including the potential for litigation, trigger a desire for specific focus on positioning to avoid or manage risk; and matters that entail owner financial planning.
Understanding Your Needs
Requirement #1 for an OMB team attorney is an understanding of what drives value in businesses. All of our OMB attorneys are similarly expected to have or be building a broad enough base of experience so that the OMB team contact can help clients identify issues and opportunities in multiple disciplines even though other Lindquist attorneys may become the primary contact for follow-up activities. We further require that our attorneys have good common sense and personalities. If we’re doing our job right, we’ll often serve a sounding board for owner’s thoughts and anxieties about his or her business. We’ll also jointly go through intense times. It’s hard to do that well without a sense of humor, without empathy, and without the ability to make frank use of earned trust when we feel an owner is going astray.
Lindquist's OMB Service Model
Our Service Model also includes pricing strategies that recognize that you can’t include us involved in all of your value-creation initiatives if the cost of investing in lawyers is too high. We’ll never the cheapest legal services provider. However we strive to always be the best value, especially when compared to the cost of comparable firms. As further explained on the Investments in Client Success page, we are always looking for innovative, customized ways of causing legal service investments to be predictable and reasonable. Most importantly, our Service Model seeks to deliver good return on those investments.
Our Service Model lends itself well to Business Transition Planning and other concentrated efforts to build value in a client business. For more information relating to our OMB Service Model, visit our Investments in Client Success, Client Profile, OMB Service Coordinators, People, and Overview pages.
In its broadest form, planning for an owner exit event consists of consistently taking the steps that build value of a business. Support of successful owner exits is consequently part of our regular service offerings. The fact of the matter, though, is that most owners don’t engage in disciplined exit planning from the day they take the reins of their business. Life, and the daily demands of business, get in the way.
That’s not the end of the world so long as disciplined transition planning begins before it is too late. Now more than ever, failing to focus on Business Transition Planning until right before an attempted exit can be catastrophic. Baby Boomer demographics, alone, are rapidly changing the landscape for those who will be trying to sell or otherwise transfer a middle or lower middle market business. For that reason, we have honed our experience and expertise to be able to address the unique challenges of getting a business positioned for successful transition in the foreseeable future.
High on the list of elements of business value is creation of a company that is transferable. Transferability necessarily means developing an infrastructure that will cause the business to be predictably successful even if it will no longer benefit from the skills, energy and passion of its owner. For the most part, the same value-creation principles apply whether the business is being positioned to be attractive to third party buyers or is being positioned to be transferred to family members and/or employees. No successful positioning can occur, though, without a deep understanding of the broader needs and goals of the current owner(s).
One of the ways in which we have built, and maintain, a leadership role in the world of Business Transition Planning is by raising awareness of the need on the part of the type of clientele we serve to anticipate and proactively address changing trends. Those awareness-building efforts include both writing about the subject and creating cost-effective service offerings to assist middle market and lower middle market clients assess their current situation.
Notable Partner Organizations
Another way we maintain a leadership role in Business Transition Planning endeavors is to participate with providers of complementary services to develop comprehensive, innovative ways of helping clients get themselves properly positioned. In that regard, we have been involved in organizing local chapters of the Exit Planning Institute and the Alliance of Mergers & Acquisitions Advisors. We have also sponsored joint efforts to develop and deliver relevant information to business owners in this region. An outgrowth of our holistic approach to Business Transition efforts is the creation of an internal network of high-quality complementary service providers to whom clients can be referred to provide “boots on the ground” services to advance a strategic transition plan. That network specifically includes people who deal with the legacy and family dynamics components of business transitions.
Finally, we maintain a leadership role by the quality of the services we offer. Just as we employ a holistic approach to working with outside resources to accomplish successful owner exits, we utilize a cross-disciplinary approach internally. The same OMB Service Model that is implemented to address operational considerations is utilized in connection with Business Transition Planning initiatives. We develop collective experience that can be cross-applied to new Business Transition Planning engagements.
For more information about the Business Transition Planning component of our Owner-Managed Businesses practice, visit our OMB Resources page or to our Investments in Client Success tab. For information about our providers of Business Transition Planning services, visit Service Model, OMB Service Coordinators or People.
Investments in Client Success
We view a business’ decision to make use of our services as an investments in building and maintaining value in that business. As a result, we work hard to try to avoid the common disconnect between “legal” tools, which out of context are often unfamiliar to business owners, and the business purpose the customized tools are designed to accomplish. Most of what we do in the Owner-Managed Businesses practice involves either development of a company’s intangible assets (processes, people, relationships, protection and use of information, and other forms of intellectual property) or helping the company avoid putting its assets at risk.
A company’s return on its investments in legal services, though, is difficult to objectively measure in the short term. The value being built is often not fully quantifiable until a business is sold or transferred to the next generation of owners. We consistently strive to provide good return on client investments with Lindquist & Vennum by providing top quality legal work in a practical, creative and cost-effective manner. We also explore ways in which we can measure the benefits being obtained.
In furtherance of our commitment to alignment of interests with clients, we also invest in programs designed to make clients’ relationship with Lindquist & Vennum a key component of the success of their businesses. We have leveraged the insight we obtain from involvement in transactions in which sophisticated parties are determining the value of businesses to design and develop those tools. Our “Investments in Client Success” services include:
- Familiarity With Client Goals—We can do a better job for you if we understand your “big picture” goals and what you need to do to accomplish those goals. You can also obtain value from having your key service providers, including business consultants, accountants, and bankers, working collectively to support your efforts. Therefore we will invest in your success in two ways. One is to accept the onus of setting regular lunch or other “social” (i.e. non-billable) get-togethers just so that we can hear how you are doing and what you are thinking as a business or business owner. The second, if you so desire, is to help organize similar forums for multiple service providers so that we can collectively gather information and offer input on business-building initiatives. We both win if our attorneys can quickly put into business context the specific requests for legal work that you make of us. For that reason we are happy to invest our time and resources in acquiring the information we need to better serve your needs.
- Familiarity with Complementary Services—When we talk with you about your business, those discussions often involve issues that are broader than pure “legal” considerations. We believe that our attorneys provide insight and value that goes well beyond legal advice. However the best advice we can offer may be to find a specialized resource that, alone or in conjunction with our services, can help address a specific challenge. Identifying the cause of a business problem and charting a course to success is not a simple task. As a result, our OMB attorneys are consistently working to identify and become familiar with business resources that may be of future benefit to clients. That includes sponsoring organizations that address needs of the types of clients we represent. It also includes working with complementary service providers to develop programs through which we can work in a coordinated fashion to build value to common clients.
- Client Resource Center—To help you and your managers use legal services wisely, we are creating an online Client Resource Center available only to clients of the firm. The Client Resource Center will contain:
- Information to help you and your managers develop a better understanding on how to utilize lawyers effectively.
- Information to help you and your managers understand the business considerations underlying common terms of commercial arrangement so that you can both recognize potential issues when dealing in these areas and efficiently provide needed information when dealing with our attorneys about those subjects.
- Presentation and seminar materials to allow you and your employees to gain a deeper understanding of legal issues that may impact your business.
- Links to other resources that may provide value to your business.
The Client Resource Center will be built incrementally. When fleshed out, though, it should enhance clients’ abilities to work more efficiently with Lindquist attorneys in accomplishing desired results. The Client Resource Center represents another embodiment of our belief that the long-term benefits of creating better alignment of interests of attorneys and clients are well worth the up-front investment of resources.
- Cost Predictability--We recognize that understanding and controlling costs is a major part of any investment decision. In general, we work hard to employ both hourly rate structures and problem-solving approaches that deliver better value than our competition. However, there may be situations where it makes sense for you to remove the stigma of hourly charges when using us to work in an integrated manner with your employees to develop key components of the infrastructure of your business. In those situations, we will mutually create fixed fee programs where you know what you’ll be charged each month for our contributions to that endeavor. Where feasible, we will also work with you to fix costs for specific projects. Again, we share an interest in making it easier for you to analyze the cost/benefit of a contemplated investment in our services.
For those of you who are getting closer to an exit event, we provide more tailored Business Transition Planning services. For information about members of the Owner-Managed Businesses team, visit the People tab or the OMB Service Coordinators page.