One of my favorite and longest tenured clients died last week, fairly unexpectedly. He’d been in the hospital about two months, and home for one.
I got a Spidey-sense that he wasn’t feeling well in December, although to outward appearances at that time, he was fine. But, we talked over succession planning, because he and his wife wanted to take an extended vacation this year, starting in October. We decided that things were well in hand: his son showed the ability to lead the company, and he had a veteran employee that he’d promoted recently, who showed signs of being able to lead until the son was ready.
He actually bought his family business for about $50k 20 years ago, and when he died, sales were about to close at $3.5 million. Not a bad rate of travel. We could see $10 million.
One of the many things that was interesting about him was his journey through leadership of his company. He came from a tech orientation, which he’d occasionally return to when annoyed at the rest of the company (common entrepreneurial trait).
He used to REALLY get annoyed at his sales department because, when large clients asked, he was on the next plane. To anywhere in the world. But, he developed a crack sales team. He never started out to sell, or to close sales, he was just damn good at it. And, he kept his fingers on the pulse of what clients were thinking. Priceless.
Another priceless series of traits were his sense of humor, his ability to step back from what was going on (although he needed a little prompting at times), his family orientation (really) and his curiosity.
An ideal entrepreneur? Nope, there is no such thing. But damn close. Needless to say, I’ll miss him.