You head to the exit when the performance is over. There is a sense of finality, a transition from one state to another, perhaps a feeling that there is nothing more to see or do.
But if you have more to achieve in your business the thought of an exit plan may feel premature. You might question the value of spending time and energy on planning when the next phase of your life seems very distant.
While some business owners have their future clearly mapped out many others haven’t made the time or don’t see the necessity of developing an exit plan. When we talk to owners about their ‘exit’ the most frequent response is that managing the day-to-day business is the priority and thoughts of what comes after can wait.
At any stage in your company’s evolution, you are making two finite and precious investments, those of your time and your money. At some point you will want a return on your investment and take out of the business money to build your personal wealth and time to spend on other important things in your life.
Exit planning is about two precious things: giving you the option to reduce your time in the business so you can focus on other activities; and securing a sale valuation that allows you to embark on your next venture, be that business or personal. An exit plan is essential to the successful extraction of your time and money.
We encourage business owners to look at exit planning as a way to give you control so that as different situations arise you are prepared and can get the best outcome.
Here are five situations where you will value the benefits of a well-constructed exit plan (they have one thing in common: they are not the classic ‘sell up and retire’ scenario that typifies most exit planning):
- You want to reduce the time you spend in the business without selling up. In essence you want to ‘cash in’ some of your time investment and make a partial exit from the day-to-day running of the business.
- A potential buyer makes an unexpected offer for your business. This can happen at any time and without warning. How well prepared are you to handle the approach and secure the best outcome, be that a sale or otherwise?
- You aspire to establish a new venture. If you have been successful in starting, building and running your business you may want to do it again. To do so may require you get all or some of your time and money released to invest in the new enterprise.
- You are forced through circumstance to take time away from the business. No one wants to contemplate being forced out of their own business but if long term illness or incapacity should strike will you want the option of retaining your ownership whilst exiting your time? A strong management team and business continuity plan will give you that flexibility either permanently or until you are ready to return.
- A new market or opportunity arises and you want to sell part of the company to raise the necessary finance. A typical growth strategy involves expanding the product range or moving into new markets. There are many options for financing a growth strategy and attracting an investor is one to consider.
An exit plan is really a business planning tool and in some regards it might better be called a ‘business attractiveness’ plan. By developing your business as if you are aiming to attract a potential buyer, you end up running a more efficient and profitable company – perfect for owners who want control over the time they spend in their business and flexibility around when and how they extract their wealth.
An exit plan isn’t simply the way out at the end of the performance – it can be a doorway to greater flexibility and exciting new opportunities. Let us be a part of your journey now – not at the end of your business.