XPX Members work in the lower middle market. In the U.S. this includes companies that have roughly $5 to $100 million in revenues. They are past the startup phase and have the potential to provide long-term value to their owners, employees and communities.
To understand our members’ focus on this market, it’s helpful to look at the attention in recent decades to the startup of new businesses. Governments and business communities around the world have built vigorous ecosystems that support startup businesses. These ecosystems provide the unique training and support that early-stage companies need. It’s the nature of the startup process that some ideas fail and some succeed. In fact, roughly 50% of companies make it to 5 years. Only 20% make it to 20 years. Even fewer pass on to new management and ownership.
We believe that more attention needs to be paid to the companies after they graduate from the startup stage because these graduates have the potential to build lasting, realizable, transferable value in the long term. Companies in the lower middle market are the foundation of local economies, providing reliable employment and support of local community activities. But these companies have different needs than startups.
Until now, there has not been as much focus on the ecosystem that supports companies in the lower middle market. That has changed with the emergence of the exit planning movement.
Our movement uses the umbrella of “exit planning” to describe the post-startup phases in the private company life cycle. At this point, a company’s challenges shift to the need for longer-term planning, sustainable growth and a path to preserving the company beyond the founders. This journey includes three stages: business value growth, business value transfer and owner life and legacy. This journey requires attention to both the professional and personal (legacy, finance, tax) needs of all involved. Our members focus on helping Premier Private Market companies make this journey.
Every company and owner uses multiple types of external advisors to navigate their exit planning journey. Each journey is unique. There is no one path, no one advisor, no one answer. Hopefully, owners find the right advisors for the right task at the right moment. Their options are word of mouth, industry associations and local business organizations.
XPX was founded in Boston in 2007 as an exchange of advisors in the belief that there was a need for a more organized ecosystem to support private companies that had graduated from the startup phase. These local Chapters are focused on bringing together the best advisors who have a track record of working with privately-held businesses in the lower middle market. Together they develop and share resources, build deep relationships with other advisors, increase their visibility in the local market and learn the principles of private company advisor excellence. Building better advisors builds better private companies and stronger local communities.
XPX is highly focused. Our members all:
Programming by our Chapters helps these varied advisors learn about the multi-disciplinary challenges of preparing companies for long-term success. Along the way, they gain visibility for their own expertise and build relationships with other advisors.
After XPX had been around for ten years and had grown to ten Chapters, it became really clear that we all shared a similar philosophy and set of goals. So we had a series of conversations with our members and leaders to try to put these ideas on paper. The XPX Advisor Principles were the result.
It’s important to remember that our members represent 12 different professions, each with their own ethical and methodological requirements. These principles describe how a good advisor goes beyond the requirements of his or her own profession and finds ways to work with the full team of advisors for the good of the underlying business and its owners. Here’s the list (click here for more detail):