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How to Help Your Clients See Their Exit Plan Path

Submitted by John Brown on Fri, 02/21/2020 - 8:00am
Person in a black jacket standing on an asphalt path flanked by snow-covered trees

Time is our most precious commodity, and for business owners especially, it can be difficult to convince them to take time out of their already busy schedules to work on their business, not just in it. Part of your role, as their most trusted advisor, is to help your clients see the path forward to their desired future and the steps that need to be taken in order to get there.

There are many different ways to execute an Exit Plan and various routes a business owner can take to reach their goals and eventually have a successful exit from their business. However, in order to obtain that successful exit, owners must avoid the pitfall of waiting to start planning until the point in which they are ready to exit. By establishing a sense of urgency with your clients well in advance of the moment your clients decide they are ready to exit, the process of planning will be more efficient and effective.

Create the Map

With any roadmap, it’s important to understand where you are starting. When beginning this process with your client, you’ll want to understand the current state of the owner and the business, including areas such as co-owners, family involvement in the business, and perceived business value. 

After you’ve determined where your client is today, you’ll want to dive into where they want and need to be. Some key areas to focus on are when they want to exit their business and what type of lifestyle they want to live after exiting. Each owner’s vision for the future is as unique as their businesses are, so they will want to consider non-financial goals as well such as who they want to run the business, their legacy, and impact on the community.

Determining your client’s vision for the future will provide emotional buy-in for the steps that need to be taken to get from where they are today to where they want to be. These steps become your path to building and protecting business value, determining and sharing their vision for the transfer of ownership, and preparing for unexpected events via continuity planning.

BEI offers the Exit Planning Path Finder tool to our Licensed Members that allows advisors and business owners alike to understand the business’s value today and outlines the steps they need to take to where they want to be. By outlining the process, timeline, and necessary steps to an effective Exit Plan, you and your clients will have a clear understanding of the path ahead and the action items that will need to be taken in order to achieve the business owner’s goals for their future and that of their company.

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Benefits to a Shared Roadmap

  • Creating a visual roadmap is a powerful marketing and engagement tool advisors can use to conduct a casual discovery meeting with business owners.
  • The questions and topics discussed allow business owners to uncover their hopes, dreams, concerns, goals, and visions for the business.
  • Gain credibility with your clients by showing them how many steps and details go into the process of building their specific exit path and that you can help them manage their journey from start to finish.
  • Visually show your clients the entire Exit Planning process. This should put them at ease that there is a process in place to follow and it can be referred to at any time as you progress through recommendations and deadlines.

Exit Planning can feel stressful and overwhelming to business owners because they often don’t know where to begin. Help them see that the path to where they want to go is obtainable with your guidance and management of the process. The key is to start that conversation and laying the groundwork today so you and your clients have adequate time to reach those goals.

Tune in next week to understand what could happen if business owners don’t plan ahead and their Exit Planning strategy crumbles.

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