Everything was going well for Lynn Mustazza, founder of JAWOOD, a provider of business services to the health care payer industry. The family business, founded in 1989, was growing and doing great. When some positive life-changing events happened: Mustazza hit a milestone birthday, her daughters were graduating from college and getting married — it dawned on her that it would be a good time to start thinking about life after JAWOOD.
"I thought I would start thinking about it while everything was good and happy, and that way I felt I could think clearer by going through this process," Mustazza says. "I started thinking about it about five years before I actually sold the company."
To start, Mustazza read books on what to think about when you're selling your business.
"And it was amazing because there were so many things in there that I didn't think of that caused me to get a little deeper," she says. "And one of the key things was picking the right team."
That team included JAWOOD executives, legal and finance. And just through the process of getting prepared, without the expectation of selling in the near-term, the sale of the business happened faster than she expected.
"Just by going through the process of getting prepared sent me down that road," she says. "Things just started falling in place. Five years before it happened, it was just a thought because everything was going very well."
Because she had never sold a business before, so knew having a good team of people who had done it before would be critical. She tapped her bank for advice on how to build that team. They introduced her to a brokerage firm and a law firm, which gave her confidence to tread ground she hadn't walk on before.
"I felt very safe and confident, and if you feel confident and trust your team, you're able to think clearly and go through the process," she says.
Surrounding herself with smart, experienced people is the reason she believes the sale to Genpact Limited went smoothly.
Trusting that team was important, she says, because selling a company is an emotional experience. And there's a lot at stake when facing possibly the most significant liquidity event of your career.
"You work so hard, you build your business and then you think you're going to get this nice chunk of money if you sell the company. So the thought of gifting it away is a little scary."
Her advisers suggest that she put some of the money from the sale into trusts. That's something she says she had to get over psychologically and emotionally, and be logical about it. Ultimately, she set up trusts for each of her daughters, a spousal trust for her husband, and a main trust that they actively draw from.
"There are many layers to it," she says. "I trust my team. The only thing I can tell you is psychologically I had to get over letting go of this money that I worked so hard for and earned and now just to send it away. It was a little scary, but I'm very comfortable with it."
Mustazza, along with PNC Bank's Jacob Taylor, PNC Wealth Management's Daniel Hoops and UHY Corporate Finance's Dan Sporka spoke at the Detroit Smart Business Dealmakers Conference about plotting the future of a family business. Hit play on the video above to catch the full panel discussion.