As a former college basketball coach and the CFO of a small business, Jackson Payne has always had a passion for helping others achieve their goals. This passion has led him to his current role as a Senior Advisor at Viking M&A in Greenville, SC, where he specializes in helping small business owners navigate the complex world of selling a business.
After spending the first 28 years of his life chasing his basketball dreams, Payne shifted gears, got married, and decided to join his father in his new business, Rio Bravo Oilfield Services. Jackson recalls, “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t even know what my role would be, but someone needed to handle the finances, and I had a knack for it.” There, he quickly became CFO and developed the financial department from the ground up, sat on the Board of Directors, and touched every facet of the company.
Jackson returned to business school and earned an Executive MBA from the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School in 2015. Meanwhile, there was a great deal of interest from buyers wanting to acquire their company. Jackson, along with his father and brother, sold the business, and Jackson describes the deal as “Not great. But, we learned a lot.”
After the exit event at Rio Bravo, Jackson worked for a few years at a boutique investment bank where he analyzed companies. Jackson got to meet many business owners and hear their stories while gaining experience in due diligence of small businesses that were potential M&A targets.
In 2018, Jackson founded Wolcott Consulting, a fractional CFO and exit planning firm. About three years later, he joined the team of Viking business brokers in Greenville, SC. At Viking, Jackson uses his experience as a small business CFO and business owner to help other entrepreneurs achieve their goals.
According to Jackson, his passion for helping small business owners comes from his own family history. “Both of my grandfathers, my father-in-law, and my dad – they were all business owners,” he says. “I get those people. I know what it’s like to sit in their seat, both from a professional and personal standpoint. And my goal is to use this experience to help them achieve their goals.”
One of Jackson’s favorite parts of his job is the personal connections he makes with business owners. “I like the whole process of buying and selling businesses,” he says. “But my favorite part is meeting someone face-to-face at their place of business after hours, hearing their story, and just learning about their business. I typically have an idea of what they’ve been through to get here. Being able to connect on that level is really fulfilling for me.”
Jackson also values honesty and transparency in his work, even when it means delivering tough news to a business owner. “Telling the truth even when it’s not what an owner wants to hear is a crucial part of building trust,” he says. “And trust is absolutely essential in the world of M&A.”
Looking to the future, Jackson is optimistic about the current state of M&A activity in the small business sector. “We’re seeing a lot of activity in the market right now, with a lot of small businesses being bought and sold,” he says. “And I think that trend is going to continue, because there are a lot of baby boomer business owners who are looking to retire and sell their businesses, and there are a lot of younger entrepreneurs who are eager to buy and grow those businesses.”
Why Viking is in Greenville, SC
Like all of our advisors across the Southeast, the Viking business advisors in Greenville, SC, are experienced professionals who are here for the long term. Selling a business can be the biggest decision in a person’s life, and we have no interest in rushing our clients through a sale or purchase. Each of our Greenville, SC, clients has a dedicated business advisor in Greenville, along with a team of analysts and marketing professionals providing support through the entire selling process.
Some might wonder, “How much business is there in Greenville?” The answer is: much more than you think! When Jackson and his family moved to the area, even they were surprised at how much was going on. Jackson describes the Upstate as very vibrant and entrepreneurial, rich in skilled labor, and strategically located between Charlotte & Atlanta. In addition, the general migration to the Southeast U.S. brings people from all over, including buyers. And Jackson observes, “Savvy financial investors are recognizing that greater returns are waiting in smaller towns like Greenville.”
Advice If You Are Thinking Of Selling A Business
When you ask Jackson for business selling advice, the coach in him comes out. “What you focus on, you will improve,” says Jackson. “Do you ever focus on what your business is worth? You may be regularly checking the value of your Apple stock. But do you know the value of your own business?” He stresses that this can require a shift in mindset. For example, do you think about reducing taxes owed, or do you think about the value of your business? One can undermine the other.
Jackson encourages business owners to shift that focus soon. “Get ahead of it. Don’t wait until the big life event or the burnout. Get out in front of it. That’s where we can help – we’ll get you a fresh valuation every year at no cost.”
Advice If You Are Thinking Of Buying A Business
If you are considering buying a business in Greenville, SC, Jackson believes that a small business is the best investment. He encourages buyers to do their homework, come in knowing what they want, and get there quickly. Employing the services of our Greenville business advisors can help simplify that process. In addition, Viking pre-qualifies businesses through SBA lenders so the buyers we work with can have confidence in their purchase.
If you are considering business advisors in Greenville, SC, contact Viking today for a confidential consultation or business valuation at no cost, no strings attached.