Successful entrepreneurs excel at starting, running, and growing businesses. Exiting a business, however, often requires a different approach and focus.
Business owners spend hundreds of hours creating their initial business plan, but rarely include detailed plans for the eventual sale of the business. Building a business with the end in sight can lead to a better outcome for all stakeholders and ensure an increased valuation in addition to a smooth transition for valued employees.
We believe every owner’s business plan should include the following seven components:
1. Succession 85% of business owners interested in exiting their businesses don’t believe they have the key personnel to oversee operational duties while they focus on the sale itself . Finding and retaining the right executive team is an ongoing effort; with the proper incentives in place, key employees can be an owner’s biggest advocate and boost valuations.
2. Valuation Planning What drives value in your business? Looking at the business through the eyes of a purchaser can proactively identify and expose issues that could sink a deal or lower the valuation. Owners can make major strides long before their exit to increase the profitability, sustainability, and transferability of the business.
3. Exit StrategyWeighing the pros and cons of potential exit strategies long before the sale allows owners the ability to structure their business to avoid a major shift in business operations when optimizing for sale. A well thought out exit strategy can decrease stress and emotion, shorten the sales cycle, and increase an owner’s confidence in the future when it comes time to sell.
4. Tax MitigationIdentifying the preferred exit plan for a business can lead to maximizing the value of the pre-sale tax planning process. A choice such as the structure of the business entity can significantly impact both the seller and potential acquirer. The recent tax legislation provided significant benefits for companies to utilize the corporation structure. However, the legislation is scheduled to sunset after 2025 potentially causing an additional variable for businesses looking to exit around or after this date.
5. “Life After” IntentionsWhat does life look like after the exit? Exiting a business creates a drastic lifestyle shift for many entrepreneurs who aren’t interested in exchanging an office chair for a rocker. Whether you want to slow down or gear up to start another business, creating a detailed plan for how you want to spend your time can foster excitement and optimism about the next phase of life.
6. Financial PlanningCreating a detailed plan for life after the sale allows entrepreneurs to evaluate the terms of a potential business exit in context of their personal intentions. For example, although it can be alluring to accept the highest offer, the terms of the deal can be an important consideration. Using a personal financial plan to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of specific deal terms and cash flow schedules creates comfort for the owner and their family as they plan for their income needs following the close.
7. Estate Planning Planning for the distribution of a liquidity event can be daunting. While it may not be necessary to map out the details in an initial business plan, answering basic questions like who, what, when, where, and how can help communicate process, wishes, and expectations. Tax and estate planning go hand in hand for many business owners. If well executed, the focus on early tax and estate planning helps provide for an increased after-tax distribution and subsequently a greater family legacy for you and your heirs.
We believe in establishing a defined plan and assembling the right team of advisors to help you execute your plan. The most successful outcomes occur when business owners identify one trusted professional to lead and engage the broader advisory team. When an owner’s wealth management team, tax advisor, M&A attorney, and investment banker work together, it leads to a more successful close and ensures that the owner’s best interests stay at the center of every move.
About Our Team
Our team of professionals has the honor of serving as the lead advisor for many business owners and has built relationships that go far beyond the transaction. Whether we can help outline a plan for selling your business, implement exit strategies, or simply offer a unique perspective, we welcome the chance to engage business owners in thought provoking discussion about their enterprise.