Traditionally a “Board” has existed to direct, govern, guide or steer an organization, whether nonprofit or business. But in recent years the term has evolved to include Peer Advisory Boards (PABs) which exist for the purpose of helping CEOs and owners of companies direct their own business. It’s unlike a traditional board in that participants from different companies and industries gather together to share experiences, challenges, solutions, and insights to help each other advance their own businesses.
RJZ Inc. launched its Peer Advisory Board on Exit Planning in 2017 to provide business owners with a laser-focused approach to their eventual exit.
Other well-known groups that share the Peer Advisory Board model include The Alternative Board (TAB) and Vistage. These groups address a variety of far-reaching elements of business. Exit planning may be touched upon as a singular topic, but not nearly at the level where a business owner would feel confident about building and executing their own exit strategy. Broadly-focused, business peer advisory boards dissect current and past issues and share innovative ways to resolve them and move into a future of greater growth and success. I’ve participated and have gained innumerable insights on running my businesses over the last 40 years from such groups, as I was involved in TAB for many years. Discussions often extended beyond those focused strictly on business to include topics such as work-life balance and how the group and/or its member businesses impact local economies. Board meetings are typically facilitated by an expert in a particular field or by a highly-trained executive coach. In addition to group meetings, private business coaching and/or proprietary strategy sessions are often offered.
Understanding the broad-approach nature of a TAB or Vistage model, I was compelled to launch our Peer Advisory Board, designed specifically for exit planning. Our objective is to help business owners “see around corners” and uncover the unexpected issues that may arise when an owner is ready to leave their business in the future. We work on developing an exit strategy for each participant through a tried and proven 7-step process that is tailored to each participant’s business and individual exit goals. And like other peer boards, the exit planning board is made up of closely-held business owners who share their real-world business concerns, experiences and insights – as they relate specifically to exit planning. As a CPA and certified exit planner (CExP), I facilitate the board activities and bring my experience of crafting more than 60 exit strategies in the last several years to the table.
The exit planning process starts with a vision of the future and the objectives, both business and personal, that each owner wants to achieve when he or she eventually leaves their business. The existing situation of each company is evaluated and the gap between the current state of the business and the owner’s exit objectives is identified. Then a course is charted to get there. That involves expert valuation of the business and determining how to optimize and protect its value while minimizing taxes. Each member learns options for transitioning out of the business and chooses the best fit. They go through the process of developing an advisory team of experts to address every aspect of the exit planning process, and even address personal estate planning. PAB members also have regular one-on-one sessions with me as we dive deeper into topics specific to their individual exit plan.
Each participant emerges with an exit destination, and a road map and strategy to get there. As significant as that is, it’s not all that a peer advisory board member accomplishes. They gain an in-depth understanding of their business, knowledge of its value and how to manage it, and an accountability system that will keep them on track and moving forward with confidence. Few businesses have this type of long-range vision and the tools to get there.
Yes, you can absolutely benefit from advisory boards that focus on comprehensive business development, but they will not duplicate the activities or achievements you can expect to experience as a member of the Exit Planning PAB. In fact, you may benefit more from a general business PAB once you have an exit plan in place; at that point you’ll know what you need and want to accomplish and can make the most of what you may discover as a participant.