Business protection case study - Charles and Libby

Dan and Charles run a printing company together. But when Dan dies unexpectedly, the business isn’t prepared for his death. This case study shows the impact Dan’s death has on the company and highlights the difficult decisions his business partner and family need to make.

The following video is about Business protection case study - Charles and Libby and has a transcript (see below).

See the devastating impact the death of a business partner can have on a business – and the family that’s left behind – when no business protection plans have been made.

Business protection – Charles and Libby, video transcript

Charles:
My name is Charles and I run my own printing company. I started this company with my best friend, Dan, about six years ago. 

Dan and I had been friends since we were at college - we were on the same course. We worked on a couple of projects together - and we did ok. But we got along really, really well. 

Libby:
My name is Libby and I've got two little kids, aged two and four. A year ago my husband Dan passed away.

I met Dan at the first place I worked after finishing Uni. I was a Business Analyst and he worked in the Graphics team, you know, one of those trendy designer types. So, we started dating and two years later decided to get married. 

Charles:
So, after a few years of talking about it, and planning, and saving and then begging the bank for a loan, we finally set up our own printing company. It was a big deal. Starting a business has its risks, but we were so confident and so determined to make it work.

It was slow at first, and for the first few years really hard work, especially when there were only the two of us plus a couple of other assistants. But we were determined and after a while it really started to kick off - all it took was just a couple of customers to start spreading the word and we were both flat out. 

Libby:
Dan and Charles worked really hard - they seemed to work all hours for what seemed like ages, but eventually it started to pay off and the clients started to roll in. Things were going really well and we were making some big plans for the future - looking into moving into a bigger house with more space for the kids.

Charles: 
Dan and Libby were heading down to the coast for the Easter weekend. Libby had gone down a couple of days earlier with the kids and Dan was following on after work on Thursday. He'd only been on the road about 20 minutes when the accident happened. Some idiot - playing with his mobile phone, not watching where they were going.

Of course we were all devastated. He was my best friend. And poor Libby. It was just awful. It just seemed so unreal.

Libby: 
I was at the holiday apartment waiting for Dan to arrive when I got the call. They said he'd been in an accident and was on his way to hospital. I was just numb. You never expect to get that call - and at that stage I didn't realise how serious it was. I went to the hospital as fast as I could but by the time I got there he'd passed away.

There's just so much I have to deal with. Not just my grief but all the other things that needed to be done - the house, the car, insurance, the business - so much paperwork and admin. I thought I could handle it all myself but recently I decided to get a solicitor to help with the legal side of things. 

Charles: 
Since then, things have become really difficult. As well as dealing with the grief of losing my friend I've now got to run the business on my own. The truth is I'm really struggling. My workload has increased with Dan not being around. I'm in the office seven days a week, almost 12 hours a day. A lot of our clients Dan dealt with directly and I have to rebuild all those relationships. And the bank is asking difficult questions, because obviously Dan was a co-guarantor on all our loans. 

I'm still trying to support Libby too. I'm paying Dan's salary to her which the company can't really afford. And our relationship seems to be getting worse. 

Libby:
I've been trying to sort out the financials. Dan had some insurance but it's not enough to cover the bills and stuff. The solicitor said I should consider selling Dan's half of the business - he said that it's worth £350,000, which is great. If I had that money it would make things so much easier for me and the kids. But I'm not sure. I don't want to make things hard for Charles, but the kids are my priority. I've got to do what's best for them first. I really don't know what to do. Obviously I'd rather sell my share to Charles, although I'm not sure he's in a position to buy it from me at the moment. Otherwise I suppose I'll need to find someone that I can trust to buy them. Maybe someone in the same line of business. But, what would that do to Charles? I really don't know what to do.

Charles:
To be honest, yes I am concerned about what Libby's going to do with the business. It worries me that she could sell her share. I've talked to her about it but I know at the end of the day it's her decision and she'll do what she thinks is best. It's hard because I know that she's been through so much - and that she has a lot to contend with. I just hope she makes the right decision, because she could so easily destroy the company that Dan and I worked so hard to build.