It still comes as a surprise when I hear, “I’ll deal with my business exit it when I get there” and, “My business exit will all happen in one go.” But after many years and many thousands of conversations perhaps it shouldn’t. That’s the danger of being close to a subject – the assumption that everyone else sees the world as you do.
Yes, you can leave your business exit to the end, and it may all happen in one go! However, there is a very real possibility of you being disappointed if you take that approach.
We’re talking about your transition from owning and running your business to no longer being involved. You know it will happen one day, it’s inevitable. In most cases the rest of your life and that of your family will be strongly influenced by how well you plan and execute the transition.
Furthermore, by the time you are ready to exit you will most likely have put a considerable amount of time, energy, money and much more into the business. Yes, hopefully you’ve been remunerated pretty well, if inconsistently, over the years but surely you want the best possible ending.
Leaving it late and expecting an all at once / cliff edge finale to your business ownership to provide you with the best outcome is hopeful at best. It’s a high-risk strategy. Better by far is to build your exit planning into your business strategy and view it as a multi-stepped journey with documented milestones.
So, what are the primary ‘steps’?
- Spend some time thinking about and planning what you and your family want to do after you have finished with the business.
- Create specific goals in terms of timing, money, workstyle, lifestyle and whatever else is important to you.
- Develop a plan for the evolution of the management of the business e.g. how you delegate responsibilities, how you reduce the dependency of the business on you and how you reduce your time commitment to business management.
- Think through the different options and timescales of how you might transfer the ownership of the business e.g. would a phased reduction in your shareholding work for you? Do you have or can you create the potential for your management team to take on some or all of the ownership? Does the idea of an employee ownership trust (EOT) appeal to you?
- Take a fresh look at your business strategy with all of the above in mind. On its current course will the business give you the outcome you want and the transition of the management and your ownership you desire?
- Adjust your business strategy accordingly. This might entail just minor tweaks or a more fundamental rethink. The important point to keep in mind is that your business ownership has many purposes but perhaps the most important is the future it enables for you and your family.
- Seek professional, experienced help in reviewing your options, developing your plans and delivering the outcome you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
If that seems like a lot of ‘extra’ work, it isn’t if you are in the practice of setting objectives, developing plans and leading the business accordingly. If on the other hard this is a stretch, there is plenty of help available to you. That’s where we come in – reach out for our expertise.
(Image by wirestock on Freepik)