Every business owner will eventually leave their company whether by selling the business, or retiring and handing over the reins to a family member or trusted employee. While you might know that day is coming, you’re likely entrenched in running and growing your business today, and not giving your eventual exit much thought. Maybe that departure seems a long way off. But is it really? Think back to five years ago, or even ten. Seems like yesterday, right?
You’ve heard enough about exit planning to know you need to do it. But how do you get started?
A plan for leaving your business starts with the same thing that guided and energized you when you started your business – a vision!
A vision for the next chapter of life is at the heart of every exit plan. You can chart your course only if you know your destination, yet sometimes it’s tough to see it clearly. The more clarity you have of the vision of your eventual exit, the more strategically you can hone the plan to get you there. What does your vision look like?
Consider the theoretical phases of the life cycle of an entrepreneur (and see the infographic).
Whether or not we think of these steps consciously, we likely all have an expectation, which started early on, that our business will enable us to achieve the prosperity to have a life that generally incorporates these steps, though the specifics will vary with each individual.
- Your business starts with a dream and a vision.
- It is likely born in and lives its first years from your home office.
- Your business is solid and you lease a facility from which to conduct it.
- You’ve experienced success and are able to buy a bigger home.
- Your business has grown – maybe it’s time to own your own office building or facility.
- A vacation home becomes an option.
- Perhaps you buy some investment/rental properties.
- You’re able to afford some toys – like a boat or classic cars.
- You transition out of your business and have leisure time and the money for golfing, travel or hobbies.
- You’ve experienced good fortune and success – it’s time to give back.
As you can see, this life cycle is a continuum but each phase has required planning. You’ve not suddenly jumped from one phase to another. That’s especially true of the last phase – the exit from your business – in that it will likely be the largest financial transaction of your life and the quality of life you experience for the rest of your life will be dependent on how well you plan for and execute that last step.
Clarify your vision for the next chapter of your life by asking and answering some questions.
- What is your current situation?
- Where are you in the life cycle of an entrepreneur?
- Are you where you want to be at this point in time?
- Have you moved any closer to planning your exit and your work compared to 12 months ago?
- What’s your destination?
- Have you thought about life after your transition away from your business?
- What does the big picture look like?
- What does your day look like after you retire?
- How does your day begin?
- Do you have a bucket list?
- What’s on it? Be specific!
- Who’s going with you?
- Have you shared your dream or vision with anyone?
- Who would you like to share it with?
- How will you get there?
- What is the date of your exit? If you don’t have one, set it now!
- Do you know how much money you need to retire?
- Is your business your single largest asset? Second largest?
- Do you know what your business is worth?
- Do you know when you will retire/transition the ownership of your business to someone else?
- What is a first step you can take to start charting your course to a successful exit?
Take some time to clarify your vision for the post-exit chapter of your life. It will help guide and energize you as you plan. Then get a strategy and plan in place. Yes, it’s complex and starts with knowing where you are, along with details regarding the value of your business. But there are tools and a tried and proven step-by-step process to help you accomplish all that you need for a successful exit. And, planning your exit will benefit your business today! Few business plans are as precise as the road map that will result from embarking upon the journey of exit planning.
I’d welcome the opportunity to lend my expertise as you start or refine your exit strategy, to share the excitement and help you as you plan for the next chapter of your life. Contact me for a complimentary discussion of your vision and exit objectives.