When you’re busy trying to build your business, you don’t spend much time thinking about how you’ll eventually end it. Sure, you might think that one day you’d like to retire. But while you can envision yourself golfing or gardening, what’s happened to your business? You need an “exit plan.”
An exit plan is the long-term strategy you have for transferring ownership of your business to others. Your thoughts about an exit help shape decisions you make now and give you a clearer direction on how to grow your business.
Why bother developing an exit strategy? First of all, you may want to exit in the not-too-distant future. It used to be when someone started a business, their intent was to build a business, make money and perhaps leave it to their children. Today, many entrepreneurs hope to start a business, grow it and then have it acquired by a larger company.
Even if you hope to run your business for 20 years, it’s important to consider what you’d eventually like to do with it. If there is more than one partner in the business, it’s imperative you all discuss your eventual exit. Unspoken exit assumptions can cause a great deal of friction. Here are some of the most common exit strategies:
All types of companies can be sold, not just retail or manufacturing enterprises. Typically, professional businesses, such as doctors’ and dentists’ practices, are ‘bought into’ by new partners. Even a one-person consulting business may be able to be sold if you find someone who wants a built-in customer base.
Your company may be a good fit for a larger company. Perhaps they want a product you’ve developed, your customer base, or your visibility and connection in the part of the market you serve.
Have family members take over
Many people dream of leaving their business to their children. But you still need a plan. After all, your family members might not want to or be capable of running the business.
An excellent way to keep your business together and to retain the jobs you’ve created is to structure a way for management or employees to buy the company. But your company still has to have intrinsic value.
This is the simplest way to end a business, but you also get the least financial reward. But sometimes, you just want to get on with the rest of your life.