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The Exit Planning Process: Phase One 

Submitted by John Brown on Fri, 08/06/2021 - 8:00am
Phased Planning

The essential foundation for any business decision or event—hiring employees, launching new products, purchasing equipment, etc.—is planning. Planning is also the foundation for the projects we, as professional advisors, propose or undertake for our business owner clients. 

In the first phase of the BEI Exit Planning Process, we establish a solid foundation for gathering accurate information. To build that foundation, BEI advisors conduct a thorough analysis of the business to gain a clear picture of an owner’s goals for the business and themselves. They then collect accurate information related to an owner’s existing resources as well as the resources needed to achieve their goals and aspirations. BEI Members have access to lists of specific questions to ask owners to gather the information they need.   

Accurate Information for Advisors 

Regardless of the project, we undertake for our clients, we need accurate information to do our jobs effectively. If, for example, you are a financial advisor/planner, it’s essential to know the value of an owner’s assets. If you are an insurance advisor, you must know how much cash the business and the owner’s family would need to continue should the owner die before a planned exit. If you are a CPA, you are better equipped to help minimize taxes and determine how much the company will need in cash flow or financing if you know the owners’ goals. Accurate information will help develop the right plan for your clients.  

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Accurate Information for Owners 

Certainly, advisors benefit from accurate information, but our clients rarely recognize the value of that information to them, primarily because we don’t tell them! We’ve found that even owners who are not actively thinking about their business exits benefit from:

  • Articulating what their wants and needs are 
  • Finding out how much money they’ll need to meet their goals 
  • Learning whether they currently have the money necessary to meet their goals

With your help, owners who do not yet have the financial resources necessary to meet their goals, gain the additional benefit of understanding the size of the gap between where they are today and where they want to be when they leave their companies.

If you are not yet comfortable conducting the first phase of the Exit Planning Process, much less telling an owner about its benefits, that’s understandable. You may not have experience asking the questions that lead to the information you need to complete the first phase. If that’s the case, we’d be happy to talk to you about the questions, education, and tools that we provide BEI members. 

TAKEAWAYS 

  • Sound owner-based planning begins with: 
    • A deep and accurate understanding of owners’ goals for the business and themselves 
    • The collection of accurate information about owners’ existing resources 
    • An analysis of whether owners have the resources necessary to achieve their goals and aspirations 
  • Accurate information benefits advisors and owners. 

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