Looking to exit from your business in the next two to five years? We can help you achieve the best outcome.

Articles

Exit planning and business continuity: when do they come together?

Good practice tells us we should have business continuity plans so that in the event of some problem affecting the business we can continue trading with as little impact as possible.

One of the scenarios in a good business continuity plan is to assess the consequences and mitigate the negative effects of key people being unavailable – including the business owner(s). For a small to medium size business one of the critical points of failure is the owner. Take them out of the operation, even for a short time, and the impact can be severe and sometimes long-lasting.

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Exit planning and business continuity

Good practice tells us we should have business continuity plans so that in the event of a problem affecting the business we can continue trading with as little impact as possible.

One of the scenarios in a good business continuity plan is to assess the consequences and mitigate the negative effects of key people being unavailable – including the business owner(s).  For a small to medium size business one of the critical points of failure is the owner.  Take them out of the operation, even for a short time, and the impact can be severe and sometimes long-lasting.

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An exit plan sounds so final – how to change your state of mind

Exit planning has many different connotations, it’s a very subjective phrase. For some, it provokes a sense of finality – a perceived ‘cliff edge’ of business ownership and involvement coming to an end. Contemplating the finish of what has hopefully been a successful and rewarding business journey can be a salutary experience and raises questions about your legacy, what you do next, your self-perception of being a ‘former’ business owner, and for some the implications of a life stage shift into some form of retirement.

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You don’t have to sell your business to achieve a successful exit

You may think an exit plan is all about selling your business.  Not so; you can achieve a successful exit without a sale.  That may seem a contradiction in terms, but your exit doesn’t mean you have to give up your ownership.

The most frequent response we get to asking a business owner about their exit plan is, “I’m not ready to sell yet”.  However, when we ask about plans to spend less time in the business, delegate more and reduce the dependency on them the response is far more positive – at least in intent if not in the form of a meaningful plan.

Good exit planning fully addresses how you reduce your time commitment to the business whilst making the business stronger and more attractive to a future investor or buyer.

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How to retain your business ownership when you’re not working in your business

In a consecutive number of weeks, three business owners presented the same challenge to us: I want to stop working in my business, but I want to retain my ownership.

The three situations were different, but all shared the common thread of distinguishing between an owner’s time spent in the business from the money they have as a virtue of their ownership. For one owner it was desirable to step away from the business to get married, travel and start a family; for another it was having two businesses that created the need to step away from one to focus on the other; and the third owner is planning to row across the Atlantic, a challenge that will take months to train for and accomplish.

In all cases they want the option to retain their ownership and have the potential to get involved again in the future.

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We need to talk about your demise

When talking with business owners about their future, one statement of the obvious is: at some point in the future you will no longer own this business. So why not plan for the best possible transition now?

Your exit from your business can be a strategically planned, hugely positive and rewarding experience.  If left to chance or left too late the outcome may be underwhelming and potentially lead you to sticking around longer than you want or longer than you can add any real value.

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You don’t need an exit plan

Not many business owners have an exit plan. In fact, in our own experience, less than 10% do. So that kind of proves the point – if the majority don’t have an exit plan you don’t need one either.

Take on the other hand less than 20% of business owners achieve the valuation they expect when they sell some or all of their shareholding. Coincidence? We don’t think so.

But the fact remains, you don’t need an exit plan.

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Your business exit isn’t all about you

You know that at some point you will no longer own or run your business – nothing contentious about that statement. You may not know quite how much you can influence how and when that will come about and therefore how well you and your family will be ready for whatever comes next in your lives. This is about you.

But your business exit is also about your business, your co-owners, your team and everyone else involved and dependent on the company you have built. So, when considering your next stage of life and the part your business will play you have a lot to think about.

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Time flies – especially in business

When you started your business, however long ago, what did you set out to achieve? Did you plan your exit i.e. stepping back from owning and running your business, or a sale – or didn’t you consider it back then?

And what about now? Do you have the sensation that ‘time flies’ (when you're having fun!) and the business has its own life and momentum now? When do you now think you might step back? Will you have achieved all you want (or need) to support the next stage of your life?

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How important is window dressing?

Promoting and presenting an attractive business increases desirability and supports better sale values. At the end of the day, we are dealing with the basic principles of how to successfully sell a product or service – in this case your company. There are a lot of aspects to consider - that is why you need an exit plan.

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Testimonials

We have talked to other business owners and they are taken aback that we forecast our revenues, costs and cash flow

Meret Maynard
Outspoken Projects

Downloads

We’ve written a number of guides on selected business subjects that will set you and your business in good stead for whatever future you may choose.

These are free for you to download and to make use of in your business, so please help yourself.