Perhaps, you can identify with David. Recently, at a retirement party, the host offered a toast, “To Jeanne -- the now, former owner of Legends Electric. Congratulations, on closing the sale and to us, for setting off on the trip we’ve dreamed of…”
David, frowned, “I’ve been in business as long as Jeanne. I wish I could sell my business!”
Jeanne knew the secret.
I’m going to tell you, too: Have an exit plan.
Most people don't commit
Notice how you respond to the suggestion to have a plan.
If you’re like most people, you thought:
"I don’t know how to think about it."
"That would take too much time/energy. "
"I’ve got some ideas in mind."
"I’ve talked about it with my significant other(s)."
"I’ve got a written plan."
According to a recent survey by UBS, 48% of owners admit having no formal exit strategy. So, if you answered 1-4, you’re not alone.
All too often, I see the consequences of not having a plan showing up when an owner decides they have to sell now: unrealistic timelines, insufficient communication, inadequate funding, inability to release the reins, intergenerational rifts, not enough time to find the right buyer -- all the symptoms of a possible deal leaking opportunity.
Start your plan well in advance -- like now. Pick up your pen and paper right now, and I’ll guide you through the two pivotal steps. Ready?
Got that pen and paper? Yes, paper. It’s important to have something tangible and for your hand to actually make marks on a page.
Start with the end in mind
Write down the answers to the following two questions. Don’t worry about being perfect or needing to get more information or counsel first, go with your gut:
When do you want to leave the business?
How much money do you need out of the business to fund your next chapter?
Not having a clue about this is data for you, as much as having a specific number.
Congratulations! This information sets a destination point and establishes where you are currently. The gap in-between your "now" and "next" immediately starts suggesting what you'll need to do. The more you identify the steps, processes, people, and time needed to do these things, the more likely they are to get done.
Chances are many of these are things you don't like doing, don't know how to do, could be postponed in the face of other needs or involve some kind of conflict or fear of loss. It's not all distasteful work. Stepping into future planning opens up new opportunities, renews your energy, and stewards your legacy.
If you, or someone you know, are contemplating selling a business, contact me. I help owners clarify the future they want and help them design the transition to get there. I provide a free consultation.
Remember, 3 secrets give you the power to turn a dream into reality.
Here they are: Have a plan. Have a plan. Have a plan.