Exit Plan – Why You Should Have One

Like everything in life, your relationship to your business has a life cycle. By starting, buying or owning a business you have set yourself on a path, which is ultimately leading you toward an eventual exit.

There will come a time when one of your most valuable assets will change hands and you will cease to be the owner. The question is – will you exit your business on your terms or through an uncontrollable outside force?  For many, the terms of their exit are unfortunately dictated by an outside force or event.

It’s important to know that exiting your business is not an event, it’s a journey. Death, Divorce, Disability, Disagreements, Distress and even selling your business are all events, which cause you to exit.

Aside from the above there are also many reasons why you might want to exit your business including, health problems, fatigue, retirement, succession, a new venture or simply you’re too tired to go on much longer.

An exit strategy is a detailed plan that identifies what you need to do to prepare for the day that you want to leave your business. It establishes the actions required and describes the form that the transition will take. It lays out plans to ensure you get the maximum value for your business when you decide to exit.

Exit planning is a method of value creation using a premeditated set of initiatives to ensure your business is both ready and attractive. It is a holistic and a very personal approach, which when implemented will prepare you personally, professionally and financially for the next chapter of your lives.

Business owners are often so caught up in the day to day operations of working in their business that they don’t always take the time to work on their business or plan for the future. On top of that, so many of us have an emotional attachment to our business that the thought of exiting is too scary to think about.

We work with you in preparing an Exit Strategy for each scenario and present a creative solution that is tailored to and works for you. We ensure that we spend time getting to know not only your business and how it works, but you the business owner personally in order to help understand what you need from the exit process.

An Exit Planner will work in a collaborative way with the other advisors involved with your business such as accountants, lawyers, bankers and financial planners.

Our goal is to help you the business owner, build enterprise value into your business, making it more profitable, more attractive to buyers and market ready so that when the transition day comes you exit on your terms at a time decided by you, for the maximum value.

We recognise that the value of your fixed assets are only one facet of your business and that in order to build maximum value and become attractive you also need to add value to your intangible assets. We help you to identify the weaknesses in these areas and assist you in building their strength and value.

It takes on average 12 months to sell a business and two to three years to add maximum value to the enterprise.

Selling one of the most illiquid assets you could ever own, on your terms, is a challenge that few of us have prepared well for. We know it takes time to build enterprise value and without adding this value you will never get the highest price for your business.

The reality is, you can only ask the maximum price if you have built maximum value. Often, we have been called by clients who are too burnt out to continue in business and just need to get out at any cost. Sadly, these clients leave significant amounts of money on the table, simply because they didn’t plan their exit in advance.

Also, consider the security that an exit plan can offer you, your family and your business. If the unforeseen does happen, do you have a clear path laid out for anyone that needs to take the reigns? This is one of the many things that are taken into consideration in an exit plan.

Exit planning is an essential process for anyone considering selling their business. There are clear benefits to taking the time now to think about when you might want to exit your business and starting to put a plan for this in place.

Claire Spencer

Exit Strategist