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Why your summer holiday is the ideal exit planning test

All this month I’ve been looking at how business owners often struggle to take time away from their business.  To round off this month’s ‘holiday’ theme, I’d like to talk about how the inability to take a break relates to the bigger picture of owning and running a business – and how it can impact the long-term health and value of your company.

In my experience as a business adviser (and owner), struggling to take a holiday is symptomatic of a wider issue that’s common among business owners: lack of work–life balance.  Of course, owning a business takes passion and commitment, but a well-run business shouldn’t sap almost all your time and energy.  If you find yourself spending too many hours in the business and crave a more normal, stable way of working, exit planning could be the answer.

‘But I’m not ready to sell my business!’

Exit planning is an important activity at any stage of a business’s lifecycle, not just when you’re thinking about selling up.  It’s important because it helps you build a more profitable, well-run company that, when you’re ready to sell, will be more attractive to buyers.  And a critical part of any exit plan is ensuring the business can operate independently of you, the business owner.

This is where your summer holiday – or, indeed, any break from the company – comes in.  By developing your business so that you can take short holidays without things falling apart, you can eventually build up to taking extended breaks.  In doing so, you create a company that functions well, whether you’re there or not.  And that can really boost the value of your business.

Distance takes discipline

In my last post, I looked at how to make your business less dependent on you, and this is a vital first step in exit planning (not to mention being able to go on holiday and leave the laptop behind).  But you also need to exercise quite a bit of discipline yourself, and trust your team to step up and handle things when you’re not around.

Answering emails or dialling into conference calls when you’re at the beach, for example, won’t do you or your business any favours in the long term.  One compromise is to check emails or take calls for a brief period every day – say 30 minutes first thing in the morning – and only during that period.  But this also takes a lot of discipline.  It’s all too easy for 30 minutes to turn into three hours.  If you can switch off altogether, it’s ultimately better for you and your business.

When you’re planning your next holiday, think of it as a great opportunity to fine-tune or kick-start your exit plan and improve the long-term health and value of your company, ideally with the help of a trusted business adviser. Discover more about exit planning and see how Henchards can help you plan for this summer and beyond.

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