Often when we talk to clients, they’re ready to sell or otherwise exit their business, but they may have not thought through all the implications to both their personal and professional lives. For most company owners, their business is their single biggest asset and, oftentimes, the one they’re relying on for their retirement or funding the next phase of their life.
When we discuss a potential exit or succession, there are a few areas where we focus the planning. Chris Snider, in his book “Walking to Destiny,” describes what he refers to as the “three legs of the stool” approach to planning the exit or transition from a business: the owner’s personal goals, his or her financial goals, and his or her business goals. It’s critically important that all three areas are addressed as early as possible in the process to ensure a successful transition. The Exit Planning Institute’s (EPI) 2013 “State of Owner Readiness Survey” soberly notes that 49% of respondents have done no planning at all, while 93% have no formal plan for life after the sale of their business.
Personal planning focuses on the business owner’s goals and objectives, including what they plan to do to live a fulfilling and enriching life following the exit or transition of their business. Remember, for most owners their business is their life. They spend 50 to 60 hours a week (or more) devoted to the work, and when they sell, there’s often a large void in their schedule. That in part may be responsible for a finding in the EPI’s 2013 Owner Readiness Survey, where 75% of business owners profoundly regret selling their business within one year post transition.
These are just a few reasons we recommend starting the planning process as soon as possible. In addition, the benefits to early planning often translate into greater transaction values and more satisfied sellers.
We’ll address how planning in the other areas can significantly impact the overall sale/exit and succession process in future articles. In the meantime, please contact your Schneider Downs representative for more information or to schedule a meeting to learn how proactive planning can benefit you and your business when contemplating a sale, even if that sale is five to 10 years away.
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Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.