We all know that the best results usually come from having a well-designed and executed plan. If your eventual exit from your business is important to you, your future and that of your family, you will want a good outcome. That, then, means having a plan.
All too often the two things (outcome and plan) don’t seem to get connected. For various reasons many business owners put off planning their exit until they are ready to sell – at which point there is a lot less chance to make a difference to the outcome. For some this can be a serious and worrying development when the value of the business doesn’t meet their aspirations or worse still leaves their future and that of their family in an uncertain state.
So why does exit planning get relegated to an afterthought?
Here are some reasons we’ve picked up from business owners:
- Your business is going well so selling it for a good price at some time in the future won’t be a problem.
- You never set out to build a business to sell. It has given you a good income so when you come to step-back you have no expectations of getting a meaningful financial gain.
- An exit plan sounds ‘final’ and you don’t want to contemplate the time when you no longer own and run your business (or you never plan to stop!)
- Developing an exit plan sounds like an extra and perhaps unnecessary task on top of an already demanding role.
- It’s not clear what an exit plan involves or why it’s of any value.
There is a logical, objective side to an exit plan that sets out the steps you need to take to achieve a target exit value at a specific time in the future. As with any ‘business plan’ the better the plan and the better it is implemented the greater the probability of a successful outcome. In many cases your exit plan adds clarification to your business strategy, gives it a clear final target and therefore gives you the opportunity to run a better business.
Transitioning between business and your next phase of life
There is also an emotional, subjective side that focusses on how you as the business owner(s) transition through the various stages of ownership and involvement to reach your next phase of life. Sometimes this is the most difficult part of exit planning to contemplate as it asks questions about you, your role in the business and your future.
Without an exit plan you risk missing a great opportunity, not just in terms of achieving an attractive sale or part-sale of your share of the business but also what follows once you step back. Whether this business is your final act as a business owner or you are a looking towards a new business venture, how well you plan and manage your exit can make a significant difference to your future.
An exit plan will help you get a fair reward for your enterprise and leadership, a better work/life balance and set yourself up for what happens next. If you are two to five years from that next phase talk to us about developing your exit plan. Don’t wait, your future may depend upon it.
(Vintage photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com)