Why Is The Business Exit Strategy So Often Overlooked?
If you're like most business owners, you or may not have thought about your eventual business exit strategy. Lets look at why this is a very common issue with business owners and why it should be given more time and attention. The underlying goals of any for profit business is to generate cash flow, build assets, and create a profitable exit plan from the business some time into the future.
While the these goals are clear, the exit related goals do not get a great of attention until the owner is getting near retirement age or after some event causes the owner to need to exit. The result tends to be a suboptimal ending in terms of money actually realized from selling their business interests.
Here are the main reasons (from my observations and discussions with business owners) for a lack of business exit planning and the resulting disappointing financial returns.
1. Business owners do not see a connection between what they're concentrating on in the business today and their eventual exit. This is a highly flawed way of thinking as the present and future are closely linked in a number of ways. The actions of today, will impact the potential of any future exit. If the goal is to build optimal wealth, then all activities need to be ultimately geared towards increasing the value of the business enterprise, which effectively is to increase the value of the business exit. If the present actions are eroding the potential future exit value, then they should be corrected in order to maximize overall wealth of the owners.
2. Business owners assume that the process of exiting from their business will be quite straight forward and easy to navigate when the time comes. Again, in most cases this can be a radically incorrect assumption that can have a disastrous impact on the business owner's retirement fund. The reality is that business exits can be hard to manage and in many cased they take way longer than expected to complete and the profit realized is far less than expected.
3. Business owners don't want to deal with the end of their business ownership, so its easier to just ignore the whole 'process and wait until they're forced to deal with it. This holds true for many individuals that started a business from scratch and operated it for a considerable length of time.
4. Another misguided point of view many owners have regarding their eventual business exit is that there will actually be a buyer ready to buy at the exact time the owner wants to sell for the price the owner wants to sell for. This type of thinking can lead to very disappointing results. In reality, a business owner should always be ready to exit and always be directing their business to achieve an optimal future exit, regardless of when it actually takes place. If a buyer is looking for your type of business right now and is prepared to pay a premium for a business in an optimized and sale-able position, then a business that is always ready to exit stands to profit handsomely. While this particular circumstance may never occur, it also prepares the business for immediate exit if other circumstances present themselves, either personally or professionally.
The most common unplanned circumstance I can think of here is the sudden passing of the owner or a death in the owner's family where the owner does not want to continue with his or her business commitments on a day to day basis. If the owner is always ready to exit, then this or any other unforeseen circumstance will reduce the potential of a massive discount in sales proceeds caused by a sudden unplanned business exit. If you want to get the most cash out of your business exit, then start building one into your planning, because you never know what the future holds.