Keys to Create Your Dream Business Exit and Legacy

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Scott Couchenour, Founder, Serving Strong Enterprises, shares the Keys to Create Your Dream Business Exit and Legacy, helping business owners navigate their business exit with confidence and purpose.

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Scott Couchenour, Founder, Serving Strong Enterprises, shares the Keys to Create Your Dream Business Exit and Legacy, helping business owners navigate their business exit with confidence and purpose.

Scott is a dedicated life coach specializing in guiding business owners through the complexities of transitioning out of their businesses. With a background marked by firsthand experiences of loss and redemption, Scott has a unique ability to empathize with and support business owners facing the pivotal moment of exiting their businesses.

Our guest’s journey began in a small Midwestern town, where he was raised with strong Christian values. His career faced a turning point at 50 when he had to close a long-standing family business. This experience fueled his commitment to help others navigate similar transitions. As the founder of Serving Strong Enterprises, Scott has helped numerous business owners redefine their next chapter with purpose and clarity.

Download our free business valuation guide here to understand more about business valuations and view our business valuation FAQs to answer the most common valuation questions.

Serving Strong Enterprises focuses on empowering business owners to transition smoothly, emphasizing strategic planning, emotional resilience, and community support. Their approach ensures that clients not only exit their businesses successfully but also enter life by design, enriched by their experiences and achievements.

Damon enthusiastically starts the show by getting to know Scott better. He explores what leads him to his current role.

Scott reveals that he is one of five children and recalls his father’s journey into the construction business. In the mid-60s, his grandfather, a pastor, was taken advantage of by a contractor, forcing Scott’s father to step in and help. This led to the establishment of their family business in 1970. Scott joined the company at 24, eventually becoming COO for 24 years.

Do you want to know if your business is ready for your exit or what you should do to prepare? Learn this and more with our business exit assessment here.

The guest further says that the 2008 financial crisis severely impacted their business, causing a five-year decline.

In 2013, Scott became CEO to reinvent the company. He generated new ideas and hope among the remaining employees. However, in 2015, a significant project was halted due to a scandal involving a pastor, leading to the closure of their business after 44 years and 760 completed church projects. This closure left Scott and his wife unemployed, and he struggled with the loss of his identity tied to his career.

With firsthand experience in exit, today Scott works with business owners at various stages of their exit, focusing on the emotional relations of transitioning out of their businesses.

Get the most value for your business by understanding the process and preparing for the sale with information here on our Selling a Business page.

Damon, impressed, asks Scott about the life-changing discoveries he made about himself during the challenging period.

Scott says that the most fundamental discovery he made was that he had been living life by default, simply reacting to life’s ups and downs without strategic direction. He contrasts this with living by design, where one has a broader, long-term perspective. After closing his business, Scott initially panicked, made poor choices, and struggled to adapt to the entrepreneurial role.

It wasn’t until his wife mentioned her five-year work anniversary in 2020 that he realized how much time had passed without significant progress. This realization made Scott get serious about his new agency. He hired a branding coach and found his focus, eventually becoming a strategic coach for Gen X. Scott now views his journey positively, referring it to a steadily upward-trending graph, with daily fluctuations but largely progress.

Damon praises Scott’s ability to overcome difficulties and learn valuable lessons.

Scott believes living by default accumulates regret, alluding to Robert Louis Stevenson’s idea that we eventually face the consequences of our actions. Living by design, on the other hand, reduces regret and increases fulfillment because it uses life’s ups and downs as fuel for one’s goals and legacy.

Damon, curious, asks Scott to talk about his concept of living by design.Scott responds that the meta-theme of living by design is to be in the process of becoming the fullest expression of one’s unique, God-given design. This involves two key outcomes: increased fulfillment today and reduced regrets tomorrow.

He learned from his experience that identity and career are separate entities, and living by design allows one to maintain their sense of self despite career changes or losses.Similarly, the exit maestro outlines a six-point framework for living bydesign, which includes being spiritually anchored, physically fit, relationally rich, emotionally healthy, vocationally aligned, and financially free. By assessing events against these six aspects, individuals can approach challenges more strategically and maintain perspective, even during emotional times.

Damon finds Scott’s life coaching approach exciting. He seeks to understand how Scott helps people transition successfully, considering that many people struggle with uncertainty about their future after leaving a business.

The Life Coaching Guru guides his clients on having a purpose beyond financial gain when exiting a business. He says that while financial aspects are significant, emotional and existential factors are often overlooked, leading to post-exit challenges like conflict, emotional attachment, retirement anxiety, fear of regret, and loss of identity.

Moreover, the guest introduces the concept of “commencement” which he also calls the “graduation” strategy alongside business exit. It is the idea that exit marks not just an end, but a beginning or transition to a new phase.

He aims to shift the paradigm from a default way of living to a deliberate “life by design” approach.

Agreeing with the guest, Damon debunks a misconception that an exit solely revolves around financial gain. He compares the ideal exit to a celebratory NASCAR (The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) win.

The Certified Life Coach adds that facing the loss of identity during a business exit can lead to self-sabotage. At this point, adopting a life-by-design mindset comes into play which allows people not only to plan post-exit endeavors but also to navigate the exit process strategically.

Intrigued by Scott’s views, Damon seeks deeper insights into the pivotal shifts in perspective that occur as business owners start this journey of self-discovery and strategic planning.

Scott recounts a touching moment with a client who experienced a profound shift in perspective during their sessions. The client, initially burdened by the weight of family legacy and business concerns, eventually realized that the business was just a small part of the bigger picture. This realization brought him a sense of freedom and clarity.

Damon thanks Scott for sharing his insights and contributing positively to others’ lives during their transitional phases. This marks the show’s end.

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ABOUT EXIT YOUR WAY®

Exit Your Way® provides a structured process and skilled resources to grow business value and allow business owners to leave with 2X+ more money when they are ready.

You can find more information about the Exit Your Way® process and our team on our website.

You can contact us by phone:  822-BIZ-EXIT (249-3948)   Or by Email:  info@exityourway.us

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Find our Companies on LinkedIn: Exit Your Way®,  Cross Northwest Mergers & Acquisitions, Bowman digital Media 

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Other websites to check out:  Cross Northwest Mergers & AcquisitionsDamon PistulkaIra BowmanService Professionals Network (SPN)Fangled TechnologiesB2B TailDenver Consulting FirmWarren ResearchStellar Insight, Now CFO, Excel Management Systems  & Project Help You Grow

45:06
SUMMARY KEYWORDS
business, exit, design, talk, years, began, regret, owner, living, today, identity, exiting, work, damon, agency, bigger, emotional attachment, life, default, commencement
SPEAKERS
Scott Couchenour, Damon Pistulka

Damon Pistulka 00:01
All right, everyone Welcome once again, the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon pistulka, and I am so excited for our guest today. I’ve got Scott coconer here today from serving strong enterprises. Scott, thanks for being here today.

Scott Couchenour 00:20
It’s an honor to be here with you. Damon,

Damon Pistulka 00:22
yeah, it’s great because we’re going to be talking today about the keys to creating your dream business, exit and legacy. And wow, am I honored to have you to talk about this today because you’ve lived some tough times. Work through scene legacy. Help people do this? Gonna be so great? Yeah, I’m

Scott Couchenour 00:44
looking forward to it. Yeah, yeah. Well, Scott, as

Damon Pistulka 00:47
we like to start out the show, we always want to understand more about our guests and what really brought you to doing what you’re doing today.

Scott Couchenour 00:58
Yeah? Well, I was, I’m, I’m five. I’m one of five kids, and my dad, back in the mid 60s, his dad was a pastor going through a building program, and the contractor had inflated the final invoice and skipped town. And so dad stepped in to help grandpa finish the project, and someone said, there ought to be a company exists to see this never happens to churches again. So dad helped another church and another church, and before long, he incorporated in 1970 and I was at that time, I would have been five. I joined when I was 24 I became COO, and I was COO for about 24 years, and along that line, I was exposed to life coaching, and we were going to offer that as a benefit to our employees, and we designed to build churches across America. So it was beginning to flourish. We had about 70 employees. At one point we were doing 40, 45 million. And so someone said, let’s, let’s look into life coaching for our our employees. And since I was the youngest of four brothers, I was tasked with the responsibility, not that I didn’t have anything else to do. Yeah, and I fell in love with it. So I hired my own coach, got certified as a coach, and I had that on the side. Never felt like I needed to. I felt it. Never felt released to do coaching full time. So I just did one side. Then 2008 happened. I’m sure your listeners will remember that with fondness. We, we those were good times when the stock market went down quite a bit. Our company then suffered five years of a slide in sales, and we could not figure out what was going on. So in 2013 the board of directors had asked me to become CEO, to reinvent this 40 year old company. And I did. I filled whiteboards, you know, with all kinds of thoughts, and begin after dozens of whiteboards, an idea began to germinate, and the remaining employees and I started to get some some excitement, some hope, about this new way of doing things. But the five year slide from 2008 to 13 made us vulnerable to one project that had to start in June of 2015 so we could bridge, from a cash flow standpoint, bridge ourselves so we can get to the 20 million that we had in design, various projects at different stages in design. And so I get the call from the project manager in June of 2015 expecting him to say, we got started. Instead, he said, Are you sitting down? I said, why? He said, apparently the pastor has been having an affair with the secretary, and that has become public, which was the end of our family business. We could not sustain any further, and so I did the only natural thing, and that was the close the business. After 44 years we had, we had designed and built 760 churches in that time. It was a great run, but that my wife and I were both employed at the time. So at that moment, we became we had no income. My career was gone after almost 30 years, and with it went my identity, because over the years, I fell victim to this, what we all kind of generally do, and that is, we attach our identity to what we do. So we’re in a room networking with people, and they say, What do you do for a living? Or, you know, what is it that you do? And it’s a it’s an innocent question, but it’s really you? You think I’m a CEO of a multi million dollar family business that designs a built churches? Oh, that’s cool. That was all gone, and with it was my identity. So after several years and a lot of lot of anguish, trying to figure out who I am and what I want to do. Uh, there, there began to emerge this idea. And I’m a praying man. I grew up in the church. My dad’s a preacher’s kid. I married a preacher’s kid, and through a lot of prayer, a lot of reflection and advice from counsel, or, you know, a lot of people giving me good counsel, realized that I was sitting on a wealth of experience and a lot of capability. So I began to think about, what was it that I went through, and why did it take so long that then began to what began to emerge was a strategic planning process. Yeah, regain my identity. It was a survival for me. Then I thought to thinking, I think I could be the the partner I wish I had had when that happened, because if I had, I’m convinced I would not have gone as deep as I did in the fog, and nor would it have taken as long for me to recover. So I began to parallel strategic planning and execution, strategic initiatives, all that’s part of business, and started thinking about that from a personal level. Why? Why can’t we see strategic planning and execution for our lives, and so that’s what I’m doing today. I’m working with business owners who are at various stages in their exit and I think there’s a lot of work that’s being good, work that’s being done on the business and getting it ready to sell or to succeed, if there’s a multi generational family, but very little is being done with the inside the owner, himself or herself. What are the emotions that that they go through? And I address that directly, because I’ve been there, yeah,

Damon Pistulka 06:57
yeah, yeah. So, oh. That experience when you went through that, what do you think were some of the you know, you’re setting here? You closed the company down. You said it took you several years to do it. What are some of the real life changing discoveries about yourself that happened during that time.

Scott Couchenour 07:22
Well, the most fundamental thing was, I was living by default. And what I mean by that is life has its ups and downs. Usually they say there are two things you can count on, death and taxes. Well, I would add a third, and that is the ups and downs of life. They will happen regardless, right? You know, it doesn’t matter if you’re strategic or not. You’re going to have ups and downs. They’re going to be good things that happen to bad things. I discovered looking back on that experience, just how default I was, I was, I was riding the ups and downs as they occurred. And it’s just, it’s what we naturally do. We don’t really think about where am I really headed? We just enjoy that the good times, and we somehow make it through the bad times. And that’s a life by default. What I mean by that, in contrast, is a life by design, where you are working on something bigger you, and it’s a long run, and think of an arrow up above the ups and downs of life that that arrow with the ups and downs of the arrow. If I had been living by design at the time that we were facing these challenges, I would have had a broader context within which to process everything that was going on and and that’s, that’s the fundamental thing I noticed about myself after, oh man, after about six or nine months from the date that we closed the business, I began to then act on panic. Yeah, I made poor choices because I was, I was panicked trying to get a business going. Yeah, I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur 10 years ago, when I was CEO or COO. If someone has said you’re going to be in business for yourself one day, I’d have laughed them off the face of the earth, because that I was content for years, for decades, I was the second chair. Yeah, it was. It was a badge of honor to me to make the the person in the first chair successful. Yeah, that’s that to me, was success. Now here I am. I’m the guy running my own business, and I was operating under panic, which is non strategic, right? I so it wasn’t until after a while, I began to well, actually, five years after we closed the business, my wife, who had. Received another job shortly after, in order to pay for our health insurance and all that sort of thing, she came up to me in 2020 and said, Do you know it’s been my this is my fifth year anniversary at this new job, and that Damon that that hit me like a ton of bricks. Yeah. Oh, my word. I can’t believe how fast this time has been going, and I looked back at that five years, and it was like arrhythmia. I was just I was not going anywhere. I was just playing. I talk about having the laptop on the left side of my desk, and I’m I’m working on my website and building my business. And on the right side of my desk is my iPhone with the indeed app looking for, you know, who could I work for? Right? Yeah, 1099 w2 1099 w2 I was, I was riding the fence, yeah. But when she said it’s been five years, I thought, I have got to make this happen. So that’s when I got really serious. Shortly after that, I hired a branding coach, and we really got serious about this, which is coming out of that I discovered, you know, maybe I’m, I’m meant to address the Gen X generation, you know, of which I’m barely a part, yeah, in 1965 which then that was the stepping stone to what I’m doing now, and as I’m a fourth quarter Strategic Coach, yeah, and it’s not without its ups and downs. The best way to describe this life is like the Dow Jones Industrial graph of 1900 today, if you zoomed in on any one day that you could either be wildly elated or very depressed, but if you step back, it trends upward, right? That’s, that’s the journey on I’m on now, and I wouldn’t have any other way. It is a fantastic journey right now.

Damon Pistulka 11:53
Well, it’s okay, awesome stuff. And thanks for sharing that. Because, man, I just that that, first of all, seeing a family business, having to go out of business like that is super tough on the family. And just you look back and and those kind of things, but as you, as you emerge from it, the things that you learned, I think, are so valuable, though, as well. Like you said, you were living by default. You were just rolling with the punches as they came up down, and just working them through, you know, but I loved what you said right after that, you learned how to to live life by design. And if there’s anything that I discovered later in life is a lot of the same. It’s right. You really, I think you see some people that find this out earlier, that realize that, listen, I just have to have a higher overarching direction, like you said, I’m going here, but you have to decide that early. You have to commit on it, commit to it, and then you even tied it in after, which is so great, it’s going to be like the stock market, where you’re going to see bull days and bear days. But overall, if you stick with it and keep getting better, it will continue to continue to grow if you do that. And is the journey right? It is. It is. And so many people live by default and just think that’s the life that they’ve been given.

Scott Couchenour 13:30
And the ramification of the ramifications of a life by default is that you pile up regret. I think it was Robert Louis Stevenson who said, in the end, something like this, in the end, we all sit down to a banquet of consequences. And I think that, you know, I look back and there are regrets that I have to live with now because of living by default. But life by design. You could start Living by Design anytime, yes, and the sooner you do, the better. And what you do when you live by design is you slow the the growth rate of regret, so that you can look back on a life and say, more likely say, I am so glad that I and then fill in the blank, as opposed to, I wish I had fill in the blank.

Damon Pistulka 14:23
Yeah, that’s incredible. What you just said, slow the growth rate of regret that. It’s awesome, man, because that I just there’s so many people that run around today, supposedly successful by the measures of the world, and they’re building that regret every day. They’re, they’re they’re missing out on what they really want to do. They’re missing out on family. They’re they’re giving up on friends. They’re, you know, loved ones can’t support, don’t support people the way they really would want to. And that regret just keeps building and and live. Living by Design, as you say, that can change all that

Scott Couchenour 15:04
it can. Not only does it slow the growth rate of regret, but it increases fulfillment in today. Because here’s the thing about living by design, as you go through these ups and downs, which don’t stop because you’re living by design, every up and every down, every every opportunity and every threat is fuel for your design. So you’re going through something. Okay, go through it, you know, you don’t, don’t pretend that you’re not a human being. But let’s say someone close to you passes and it was unexpected. You’re going to go through a very difficult time. At some point, you’re going to say, Okay, what is this telling me about my design and where I’m headed and what I’m trying to do and trying to accomplish for my life from a legacy standpoint, what have I learned about this experience, and how can I parlay that information, that knowledge to make me to create an increase in where I’m headed and move the needle on where I want to go in the broader perspective? So I think what a lot of times, we lose our agency. And what I mean by that is when we feel controlled by circumstances or we feel controlled by other people’s decisions, we have lost our agency. That’s what I did. I lost my agency, and it’s not a good thing to make deep decisions when you don’t have agency. I did that. I made decisions out of panic, out of discouragement or disappointment, rather than strategic decisions. The best way to get regain your agency is to step back and download everything and step back from the details. Because here’s the thing, everything we face has context. Every single thing that you face, no matter how good or bad it is, there’s always context surrounding that. But when you’re living by default, you’re you choose to live in the box, in the metaphorical box. While you’re in the middle of the Grand Canyon. You think all there is is this box around me. But when you can get out of that box and say, this box is so small compared to the context that is that is so much broader and deeper than what I’m facing right now, that gives you your agency. When you step back far enough from anything you’re facing, you begin to see options. Those options give you choice, and my definition of agency is options plus choice. You may not like the choices that you have or the options, but at least you have choice, and that is agency. And when you’re living by design, you can regain that agency much quicker, because you’ve got a bigger program that you’re working on, regardless of what’s happening today.

Damon Pistulka 18:11
Yeah, this is awesome. That’s awesome. I just say thank you for sharing this. We got splendor. He dropped the comment in here. It said it’s longer one, but he says, You’re right. I learned a lot of these this year. No matter how successful a business is, challenges are inevitable, including financial strains, regulatory hurdles and market volatility. This underscores the importance of resilience and strategic planning. Life shouldn’t be lived by default, Living by Design, anticipating and preparing for potential problems, helps navigate obstacles and achieve lasting success, and we all learn from our mistakes. And yeah, that’s that very true. And when it you know, when we talk about Living by Design, to me, and I want to ask you a question about this, it means that we’re not necessarily looking at where we’re at today, but the bigger of what, what is our legacy or impact of of our life when I think about that. So explain to to me what your definition of that is so I can better understand that, because that that really, it appeals to me, because I see this bigger picture for us, for our careers, for our lives, for our families, whatever it is we’re talking about, what is Living by Design, really? And that you mentioned that arrow that kind of flies above everything?

Scott Couchenour 19:36
Yeah, that’s a great question. I’ll encapsulate it with a phrase, and then get into a little bit more detail, the meta theme of a life by design. In my opinion, my definition is being in the act of becoming your the fullest expression of your unique God given design when you’re. In the act of becoming the fullest expression of your unique God given design, two things happen. Today’s fulfillment goes up. Regret. Tomorrow’s regrets go down. That comes out of what I learned about my the loss of my identity, what I discovered about identity and career is that your identity is and your career is the expression of that identity, which means I can change careers, I can even lose my career, but it’s separate from my identity. It’s kind of like saying I am afraid, which is an identity statement versus there’s the fear, which is, which is a life by design phrase, there’s the fear. So you’re you imagine being on top. You know, we talk about on top and underneath. When we’re sick, we’re under the weather, when we are feeling great, we are on top of the world. See, under on top you can be under the circumstances, you know, I’m okay under the circumstances, right? Who wants to live under the circumstances? Yeah. But if you can be on top of the world, what that means is you can, you can experience fear. You can experience a loss of career, or a shift or an exit of your business, and say, there’s the exit, there’s the career I used to have. I’m still me. I’m still who I am. So to answer your question, Living by Design, the meta theme is being in the act of becoming the fullest expression of our unique God given design. How that plays out. I’ve got a six point framework that allows for my clients to do assessment and also establish aspirational statements for how they want to be, and those six are being spiritually anchored, physically fit, relationally rich, emotionally healthy, vocationally aligned and financially free. So if, if I can identify what is ideal in all six of those hallmarks, I call them hallmarks of a fantastic fourth quarter, then I can bounce anything I face against those six. For example, if, if I got a diagnosis, my mother got, let’s say she got a diagnosis of dementia. And I’m trying to wrestle with that. I can look at that event which is a setback in life, and look at it and say, what is that doing to my spiritual, anchored Hallmark? How is this going to impact my physical fitness, my relational richness, my emotional health, my vocational alignment and my financial freedom, all of which elevates you above that that diagnosis so that you can think more strategically about that situation. Certainly we are, we are emotional beings. We are human, yeah? And I’m, I’m not saying, Oh, I got a diagnosis. Okay, well, let’s go up to the top and look at it from that’s, it’s not that clean, yeah, but you are more likely to get back on top of things quicker in a life by design versus life by default?

Damon Pistulka 23:41
Yeah, that’s, I think that’s a great point, because it doesn’t mean that we’re not still going to struggle through things. It’s just there’s a way to work through them, to get back faster, right? And and that’s, that’s a great the the one thing I had a few questions written down here, because I think what you are doing, helping people get through this is so interesting, you know. And you talk talk about the fourth quarter of a career, the fourth quarter coaching that you’re doing, what are some of the things that you see people and today we’re talking about keys to creating your dream business, exit and legacy. And we all know that far too many people have the opposite. They they either hate when they leave, leave, could be through a situation like yours, they don’t want to be going, or they they exit, and maybe they’ve got money, but they don’t have the legacy or the satisfaction they want. So what are some of the things that you talk with people about, or really see them thinking about, that allows them to make this transition? I mean, you talked about one that I think is is critical in their in that your career is just the. Expression and but it is separate from your identity. It’s expression of your identity, but separate from your identity. But that really help people get past the fact that I’m moving on to something else. And you, you wrote something that was called said, the personal something in personal life to run to. I read that you had written where you got something in life to run to. I mean, let’s talk about that, because I see this happen once in a blue moon where somebody actually exits a business and they’ve taken enough time personally to really go. I am excited about this because of what is next, right? Most people, as you talked about before we got on today, don’t know what the heck they’re going to do Monday,

Scott Couchenour 25:48
right? Right? Let’s have nothing to run to Sure. And I will give you a little bit of give you a story first, yeah, working with, working with a client, and we’re talking about his exit, yep, and he said, I’ve got a friend who came to me. He said he invented this, let’s say, to keep it, this person anonymous, he invented a thing that became very valuable to somebody, to such a degree that this somebody came to his office, laid a blank check on his desk, and said, you fill in the amount, and that’s what I will buy this business for which he did. I mean, that was a total windfall, right? More money than he’d ever, ever dreamed. Right? My client is conveying this story, and he said, This guy, three years later, came into my office and said, Can I buy your business? I have nothing to do. I don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve got all this money. The guy gave me a blank check, and I gave I put as many zeros on there as I could, and I got the money. But three years later, I don’t have purpose. I don’t Yeah, I don’t know what I’m going to do. So I think that there’s a lot of attention, and rightly so, on getting the cash flow and the standard operating procedures in place and taking care of the the financials and how they look, so that the sellers can have a so that you can get the most multiple from your business. That, I mean, you can’t ignore that. You can’t just say, Hey, I’m selling my business. And you know, so the stuff you do is very valuable at the same time, there are, I’ve identified some things that we all kind of go through, and it’s born from my experience, no one talks about the conflict that is associated with exit, especially in a In a family business scenario, or there’s a strong personality in the second chair, the CEO, where the owner is trying to exit, but the CEO is there’s a contentious thing, or there’s multiple owners on the board, so conflict needs to be dealt with. There’s also an emotional attachment that the owner has to this business. Think about it. If I, if I started a business with my own blood, sweat and tears 40 years ago, 45 years ago, and I brought on staff who are now like family to me. Yes, the whole concept of exiting is quite truly a grieving process. Yeah, you know, the word exit can mean termination, you know, the end of something. So there’s an emotional attachment that they have to process. There’s also retirement anxiety, you know, what am I going to do? Who? Who? Who’s going to need me when I’m done, when I exit this business? Then, of course, there’s fear of regret. That’s another one. Should we wait a year and maybe get more money out? Right? You’ve probably dealt with that before. Oh yeah, it’s coming from regret and and then, of course, loss of identity. You know, I’m afraid of I’m afraid of who I’m, who I am, if I’m not the owner of this business. All of those emotions, conflict, emotional attachment, they come from a lack of design, Living by Design. So what they’re dealing with? Those who suffer from those types of emotions they’re dealing with, the with the the moment, the whole process of exit, as though the exit in this business was equal, like if their life was a circle, it was the biggest bubble inside that circle. Mm. Yeah, and what I talk about is, let’s step back and get context. This business that you’re exiting is a small part of a big life. And let’s decide what are you going to fill, what are you going to do with this time and this energy and all this wisdom and experience. So I think that’s what it’s all about, that’s life by design, going through an exit with a purpose. Yeah, and

Damon Pistulka 30:32
I love that. I love that viewpoint, because I can totally get and understand how a business owner like you said, many, many decades of of sweat, tears, agony, you know, worrying about, are we going to make it? Making it doing well, all this and and what they missed, and all of that is many of them, then during this time, are also raising families, seeing their families have families, seeing their their employees have families. And they really don’t realize that their life is much bigger than just the business part of it and they they kind of it gets comboulated together almost, and because they’re at work or doing what they’re doing with the business, a lot, they don’t really realize the contributions that they make, without even realizing it, that are outside the business, the people contributions. Yes, that’s a great I hadn’t thought about it like that before, but that the business. Yes, it’s a part. Yes, it’s something that you’ve done. Yes, it’s part of that, but nothing like your overall life. Yeah, that’s awesome.

Scott Couchenour 31:49
I would like to introduce the concept along with exit. Is a commencement strategy, or a graduation strategy. You know, we always talk about when our kids or when we graduated from high school or graduated from college, it was the sense that there was an end, right? But look at the words, look at the word commencement. That’s beginning. Yeah, graduation, you’re going to a different level. So I like to add the words commencement or graduation to the word exit, because exit, there’s so much more to exit and and I think we what my dream is, to eliminate life by default as a standard way of living, and introduce life by design, so that maybe you’re going to exit this business and you’re going to start another one in your 60s or 50s, and you exit that one and you start something else. Or, you know, the the Hallmark having to do with vocational alignment. When I think of vocation, I don’t necessarily mean the job that you’re doing for a paycheck. It’s whatever you give your time and your attention and your your energy toward. And I’ve noticed, I’ve seen people who will exit a business and then start a foundation, yes, based on what something, you know, I was talking with someone the other day, and one of their grandchildren was diagnosed with cancer, a real rare cancer, at at two years old. And so they’re exiting their business, and they’re thinking, what am I going to do? Let’s start an effort to fund the research for children childhood cancer. Yeah, now that’s very See, that’s an expression of who he is. Yes, that’s an expression of his identity. And it’s something he can run to, something he can get involved in and give his time and energy and attention to

Damon Pistulka 34:01
and it’s, it’s so great that you’re bringing this up, because so many times people think that an exit means that I’m going to get a pile of money and then I’m going to figure out what I’m going to do. And it’s almost like, how many lottery winners are really happy they’re not, right, right, right? And, but when you put something out ahead of you, that is, this is what I want to do. You want that exit? I mean, I I’ve you explain it so well. Today I’ve tried to explain in many different ways. You know, to me, it should be a wonderful party. And I always, I always, there’s a picture that I use in presentations a lot. It’s about a NASCAR winner, and I think that’s, you know, doing the burnouts, having a good time waving the flag. Man, it should be like that for that owner, because today I’ve won, and I’m going to get back in the car my. Be a different car. Might be a different track tomorrow, but I got something else I’m going to do,

Scott Couchenour 35:04
a different race, right? Different race. And,

Damon Pistulka 35:08
you know, because it’s not the end, because most of the time these exits, what they really do, as you said, creating the legacy, of course, with the business and doing that that’s super important, like you said, getting it because, you know, if you work that hard, you want to see it go on like you want it to go on, but it positions them. When you look at your your six pillars there that you talk about, that financial freedom allows them, as you said, I can go out and work on childhood cancer. I can go out and I could, I could open a startup lab where I just help people start up businesses, because I appreciated that when I got that help, I can mentor people. I can do whatever I want and it but thinking about that, Living by Design, knowing where I’m going after this is done, also gives me the energy today to make some of the tough choices that I have to that might tell me, yeah, I kind of got to get it out of that role. I’ve got to do some of these other things, because what we see in the end is that conflict and anxiety and the fear of change slows people down at the end and really prevents them from a maximizing the return on their business as they exit, and them just having the enjoyment in the process. Right?

Scott Couchenour 36:29
If, if I am wrestling with the loss of identity as I think about exiting a business, and it’s looming, it’s coming and coming, yeah, and I’m dragging my feet, but I want this business to succeed, and yet I’m dragging my feet. I’m actually colluding against myself. I’m actually creating the thing I don’t want to create because I don’t know who I’m going to be if I knew I was going to see this isn’t just a a life by design to to say, this is, this is where I’m headed and what I’m going to do post exit. But if you’re living life by design, you will work. You will look at the exit itself and do as much strategic thinking about the exit itself, you know, yeah, so that you can, so you’ll make demands of the of the buyer and and it’s just, it’s coming from a strategic mindset, as opposed to, I have no agency, you know, this whole circumstance of exiting, I’ve got to do it because it’s, I know It’s the right thing, but I’m not really in charge of this. I’m not, I don’t feel like I’m on top of things, you know. So it cannot, not only help designing what you’re going to do afterward, but you you can be more in having more agency in the exit process and enjoy the exit process, that much greater. Yes,

Damon Pistulka 38:00
yes, because I’ve seen in in professionals, I used to work with investor owners and and some were smaller groups where, you know, you had a few, few of the people that are owners, and some are actually owner operators. And when they would do it, it was so much different, because it was like, Hey, we’re growing to the value, and we’ve gotten there, it’s time for us to do this. And they, they this is going to be a great celebration when we’re done, and we’re we’re going through this. And then when you see some founders that do that, it’s, it’s completely different, but it can be just like that for anyone. If there’s that something else after that, like you said, Living by Design, there’s something beyond this that’s just just graduating to and moving into that this is just the beginning of something else that’s even more wonderful.

Scott Couchenour 38:49
That’s right, that’s right. In fact, I would venture to say that if you’re so excited about what you’re going to do after you won’t be able to wait until this exits over. I mean, it would be like, Come on, let’s get this thing done. I’ve got other things to do, right?

Damon Pistulka 39:04
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that’s, that’s really, I mean, when you see that happen, it’s just a thing of beauty, that’s for sure. So as you are talking to people and helping them do this, what are some of the things that they talk to you about, when they when they when the lights start to come on, and they start to think about, they go, Wow. I just, I just never realized, you know what, what are they saying when they because, I mean, it’s got to be pretty, it’s, it’s got to be pretty, a big eye opening experience for them. I,

Scott Couchenour 39:37
I’ve had many times when that’s happened and some of them are, they’re in tears. Yeah, they’re, they’re, I mean, I remember one in particular, who’s who was talking about how he he awakened to the fact that this big thing that he was wrestling with, he had two family businesses, one run by his father, one he ran with, and he didn’t care about. The one his father was running, and they were trying to sell it, and it was going very poorly. There wasn’t going well, and he was afraid that he would have to take over this business because it wasn’t selling. And I’ll re I remember the time in a session with him where he was saying, you know, I discovered something. He said I was thinking this dad’s business was this big thing that was a part of me, but through our conversations, I realized that’s a small part. You know, I don’t have to be worried so much about the family legacy, the name on that business, and I can let go of it and and I’m okay either way, how it, how it plays out, and the freedom that he felt, actually what that did was that made him more strategic, and he was able to broker a deal to sell that business, because he had the margin, where before He was just stressed completely out about it, which paralyzed him, you know, yeah, so, so when he saw it in perspective of a bigger picture, in other words, when he stepped back far enough, he saw options and choice, yes, then he was able to see the offers and the options that were available to him. Took advantage of that, sold that part of the business off, had no problem. Turned out great for the family and but I remember that moment when he was under it, and then he was on top of it. And the tremendous difference to me, that’s what I get up in the morning hoping to see every day.

Damon Pistulka 41:39
Yeah. Well, that’s incredible. That’s incredible. Well, Scott, thanks so much for stopping by today, because I really, really respect what you do, from where you came from, living, living through what you did, and experiencing, you know, with the family business and and then coming out and helping people now, like you are in that, in that time of transition, to really help them understand that there’s so much more than where they’re at right now that I love how you say it should be, almost like exit graduation or commencement strategy, because you’re moving on to something better. But yeah, just, thank you so much. Well, it

Scott Couchenour 42:24
is a pleasure to be here to talk with you. It is also a pleasure to get to talk about this. Because, man, back in the day, when I was going through that, it was like, this is happening to us, and it’s like the end, yeah, you know, exit, meaning terminal. What I’ve discovered now is, every time I get the chance to talk about it, it’s that little, a little bit more piece of of release and redemption. You know, we talk about the fact that you can’t have a resurrection if there’s not a death that precedes it. Yep, right? And this is turning out to be a wild ride, where experiencing a loss like this has turned into kind of a one to many, you know, being able to help multiple business owners design their life and not only go through exits successfully, but enjoy the process and move on to something else. It’s I’m having a ball. That’s why I do what I do.

Damon Pistulka 43:28
Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, Scott, if someone wants to get a hold of you, what’s the best way to find you?

Scott Couchenour 43:37
Serving strong.com. That’s the

Damon Pistulka 43:39
website. Serving strong.com All right, that’s

Scott Couchenour 43:42
right. And if you search my name, you’ll see me on LinkedIn. I live on LinkedIn. So, all right, that’s another one, and then

Damon Pistulka 43:50
we’ll reach out that way. Well, Scott, thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate this and talking again about keys to create your dream business, exit and legacy from someone who has been helping people, the people, the owners of these businesses doing that now, let’s be clear about you’re helping the owners really turn this exit into a commencement or a graduation, on to big and better, bigger and better and more fulfilling things for them, which I think is an incredible thing. Just thank you, Damon, thank

Scott Couchenour 44:21
you for the opportunity. I

Damon Pistulka 44:23
appreciate it. Alright. Well, I want to thank splendor for being here today. And Iker, you dropped a comment in there too. Thanks for being here today. Thanks for all you people that were listening today that didn’t drop a comment if you came in later, go back to the beginning. Listen to Scott talk from the beginning, because his story is incredible how he’s helping founders really, really plan for their exit and see how they really are much bigger than the business, and how they can experience their exit to be a graduation, almost, and and the celebration that it really should be. Thanks everyone. For being here. Hang out just for a minute, Scott and we’ll finish up All right. Bye.

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