A Personal Exit Strategy is Needed When Worry Dominates

Shift from Readiness to Preparedness

Personal Exit Strategy NeededBusiness owners tend to be risk-takers and smart individuals but one place they need greater insight and ability is knowing when it’s time to exit their business. These people are characteristically Type A personalities who can be workaholics. As such, their businesses are their babies and they are laser-focused on caring, growing and managing those businesses to high levels of success. It means the relationship between business and owner is more personal than financial.

Most businesses mirror an owner’s values, morals and principles and represent the level of passion and hours of hard work put into it. This is often precisely why owners are reluctant or even resistant to leave, sell or bequest their business.

For an owner, transitioning out of their business can be the hardest feat ever undertaken. When they aren’t ready to move into the next phase of their life they will delay that exit and stall business succession.

So how can owners recognize when they are not prepared to transition out of their business?  What are the tell-tale signs that it’s time to exit but the steps to make it happen are being avoided, or worse aren’t even known?  Worry, Worry, Worry.

Worry comes in the form of thoughts, questions and musings that indicate readiness to exit but not preparedness. When owners lack a plan as well as the intention to figure one out, they spend too much time contemplating the future but never formulate actionable steps.

In assisting many business owners transition from their business through to successful exits I’ve discovered the most common worries indicative of a lack of preparedness:

Worry #1: When is the right time to leave the business?

Worry #2: When I leave, what will I do to feel needed and useful?

Worry #3: What will I do all day and who will I spend time with?

Worry #4: When at home, how will being with my spouse 24/7 turn out?  Will we get along?

Worry #5: What if I get bored?

Worry #6: If I slow down, will I get old?

Worry #7: Why am I so afraid of change?

Although some of these worries sound simplistic, they are common and very real for business owners. Without a personal exit strategy, these questions have no clear answers and ‘wait and see what happens’ isn’t a good option.

Another element that allows for avoidance is that these worries are not time sensitive. Owners can think about these questions without obvious pressure to figure out answers. Despite a lack of deadline, continually pondering for months or even years without coming to a solution or taking initial steps can be exhausting and may lead to physical symptoms of chronic stress, insomnia, high blood pressure and overall reduced well-being

As they approach their later years, business owners don’t know how life should be after the business. Wisdom does not necessarily come with age when it comes to creating an exit strategy and developing the next stage of life. Waiting too long can lead to the least preferable situation: formulating answers and making decisions during a trauma or health scare when level thinking isn’t possible.

Owners who don’t have answers to those worries will maintain the status quo and keep working. For them, it is better to make no decision rather than make a bad decision.

If owners have not figured out their future after the business, they will continue to work and worry. Family, employees and management will continue to be frustrated with them because they are past their prime and maybe holding the company back rather than leading it.

To break the pattern and build an exit strategy, follow these steps:

Step 1:      Give a number to both readiness and preparedness (on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 = low and 10 = high)

Step 2:      Find a neutral, third party transitional coach and other supports to help create the plan for change

Step 3:      Define your dream date to exit and rely on your coach to lead the creation of the transitional plan to get there

Step 4:      Witness the readiness and preparedness numbers in step one increase with the creation of an exit strategy plan

The emphasis in these steps is to stop worrying, thinking and pondering and get down to the tough question and answer creation. It’s not something to be taken on alone or with friends and family members. Hard questions require a neutral expert because no business owner wants to be seen as unable to figure out their life or incapable of creating a succession plan for the business.

If it is time to stop worrying and shift from readiness to preparedness, then our Exit Success Program is the answer. We spend time with owners to help them find the answers and create their exit plans. Contact us at 604-349-8660 or  pam@strategytoexit.com to asses fit and check availability.

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