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You May Kiss the Bride, The Wire Transfer is Complete

It’s all we talked about around our house for nine months. My daughter was getting married, and she and her mom (my wife) had plenty of time to plan a wonderful celebration for family and friends. My daughter is very responsible; I gave her a wedding budget, and for eight months and two weeks, she reported her spending with precision and confidence. I was so proud of the way she managed the process, staying upbeat and charming through it all. I remember thinking, why does everybody say planning a wedding is stressful?

Then, about two weeks before the Big Day, everything changed. I started writing checks and credit card authorizations to names I didn’t recognize, for things I didn’t know we needed. Attitudes changed, and temperature levels went up (and I don’t mean outside).

But guess what? The Big Day finally came, the event was glorious, my daughter and her mom were beautiful, and wonderful memories from that day six years ago live forever in our hearts. And oh yes, we now have two precious grandchildren.

Which leads me to wonder, why do weddings always seem to follow this pattern: start with excitement and smart planning, then towards the end you encounter chaos and anxiety, followed by wonderful memories after the Big Day. I don’t know any father of the bride who hasn’t gone through this cycle.

Planning and executing a wedding is remarkably similar to selling a business. Once the engagement is set (LOI is signed), everyone is happy and smiling. But when the planning (due diligence) starts, things can get stressful. Then, almost always, come the final days before the Big Day (closing), nerves are frayed and everyone is wondering why we started this in the first place. Then, the Big Day comes and goes, and everyone is smiling again, looking at beautiful pictures (bank account) to remind us what happened on that Big Day.

I don’t think I’ve been in any deal when the final days before closing weren’t stressful for everyone. Even when the buyer and seller have a good relationship and the deal is in everyone’s long-term interest, there is always anxiety and a fire drill just before the closing. Even with my considerable experience managing deals, I can never anticipate what will trigger the anxiety. If I knew in advance, I’d head it off, right? The trigger can be something learned in due diligence, the seller’s sense of remorse, the buyer’s late fear about taking this big step, or some confluence of all these factors. I may try to figure this out and make it my next book. But for now, I do my best to keep the parties focused on the “why?” that brings them to the altar (closing table) in the first place. If everyone can remember how they felt at the engagement (signed the LOI), then the wedding (transaction) has a much higher probability of not being derailed.

After all, nothing is sweeter than the words “you may kiss the bride” (“the wire transfer is complete”).

JIM CUMBEE is President of Tennessee Valley Group, Inc. a retainer-based business brokerage and transition mediation firm in Franklin, TN. Cumbee is an attorney and has an MBA from Harvard Business School. Jim is the author of Home Run, A Pro’s Guide to Selling a Business. .  He has a wide range of corporate and entrepreneurial experiences that make him one of the most sought-after business transition advisors in the state of Tennessee. The principles above are true, but the story, names and fact patterns are changed to preserve the parties’ identities.

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Tennessee Valley Group

Jim is an attorney (non-resident status with the Missouri Bar) and though he no longer practices law, he has read and negotiated enough legal documents to fill a cargo tanker. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and knows how Wall Street and private equity operates. Jim is a Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 31 listed general civil mediator with tons of experience helping business owners (large and small) work through sensitive problems to achieve winning results. He is the author of "Home Run, A Pro's Guide to Selling Your Business, Seven Principles to Make Your Company Irresistible."

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