In building a business there are many things you put into its development and growth, but when it comes to an exit the focus is almost always on money. And that’s why, for many people, an exit plan is synonymous with an intention to sell – but it doesn’t have to be that way.
When talking about exit planning, we focus on both the business and the owner. We help you prepare your business for its next stage including, but not exclusively, preparation for sale. And we help you, the owner, prepare for your next stage – be that retirement, a new venture or continued ownership, but with less involvement in your business.
In practice exit planning is about creating options; options about what you do with the business and options about your future involvement and time. If we can create a situation where the business is attractive and valuable to potential buyers and your role has been changed from one where the business is highly dependent on you to where the business is able to thrive without you, you have options.
The two primary factors in how you make your choices are time and money – and these are the two main benefits to consider when the possibility of an exit becomes a reality. That isn’t to forget other benefits such as your legacy, ongoing employment for your team, a sense of pride in what you have done and your contribution to your community, but for most owners these tend to be welcome additional factors rather than primary drivers.
A common storyline with clients begins with a clear statement of intent – for example, I want to sell this business in five years’ time for £3m – but as the exit planning process develops and we explore different options a new intent emerges where the ‘exit’ is less about selling and more about a big reduction in day-to-day involvement i.e. the owner gets their time back, but retains some or all of their ownership with the prospect that their wealth will continue to grow.
If you haven’t thought through how you would like your exit to develop it helps to realise that it doesn’t have to be a one-off, all or nothing event. You can separate your objectives for getting money back from your ownership from your objectives of how you spend your time. An exit plan with expert guidance can put you in a position of having options and as importantly having control and confidence about the latter stages of your business ownership.
We all want to get a fair return for the effort and successes we have had in building a business and increasing your confidence in a successful outcome is both valuable and provides greater peace of mind. Ask us how we can help you.
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