Less than 25% of small businesses ever sell. Engaging an exit planning advisor can be the difference between liquidating and maximizing the after-tax return from the many years a business owner has invested in building and running the business.
“I never worry about action, but only inaction.” Winston Churchill.
Every business owner should have an exit strategy. The process of developing the exit strategy and implementing the exit plan should never be postponed until it is urgent. In most cases the best strategy takes years to implement. And in some cases there are legal constraints on implementing the best strategies in the short term.
If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” George Harrison – Any Road
If a business owner wants to consider all options available, maximize the value of the business and make the exit process smooth, they should involve an exit planning advisor. Similar to engaging any trusted advisor, accountant, attorney or financial advisor, it is not a single meeting event. It is a continuing relationship that builds trust. The exit planning advisor becomes a valuable member of the team.
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.” Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The planning process itself in invaluable. An exit planning advisor will start with a business valuation. This work will allow business owners to gauge the difference between what the business is worth, versus what they will need to retire or will need to invest in another business venture. Once a business owner knows the value of the business they will need a plan to increase the value over time. This plan becomes a roadmap with a timeline to measure progress and with various exit ramps.
“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” Steve Jobs.
The business value is what a willing buyer will pay after performing due diligence and deciding to proceed. To increase the value an owner needs sufficient time and the perspective to look at the business with a buyer’s objectivity. An exit planning advisor has this objectivity and knowledge. The exit planning advisor can prepare a business owner for the time consuming, complex, emotional process required for a successful transition.
“The wise man bridges the gap by laying out the path by means of which he can get from where he is to where he wants to go.” John Pierpont Morgan
Most business owners have the majority of their net worth in their business. Without utilizing the experience of an exit planning advisor, it is very risky to simply hope that the exiting process will be successful. The exit planning advisor will work with the business owner over the planning horizon to help identify areas where the value is being negatively impacted and suggest ways to make improvements that reduces the risk a buyer would perceive.
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Warren Buffet
In addition, the exit planning advisor will work with the owner’s other trusted advisors on legal and tax issues to make the eventual exit most rewarding and satisfactory.