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Should You Exit Plan When You Have No Plans to Exit?

Submitted by John Brown on Tue, 12/16/2014 - 8:55am
Image of Trophies

We’ve all pitied past-their-prime athletes who refuse to retire. Does the aging business owner who stays in his or her business deserve our pity as well? Is there something wrong with an owner who refuses to retire, not because he or she needs the money or the status, but because he or she finds great meaning and significance in his or her profession?

An athlete’s failure to perform will force his or her exit from the playing field. But the same is seldom true for the business owner. Some owners simply find more satisfaction in staying active in their companies. Should such owners leave?

Should You Leave Your Business?

Should you leave your business just because your friends are retiring or you became entitled to Social Security years ago? Or should you continue, perhaps until you find the benefits of exiting the business to be greater than those awarded for staying at the helm?

I believe it is a mistake to push owners to leave a business before they are ready. Staying involved and active is great for business owners who find it meaningful or whose passion for the business is as strong as ever.

However, owners’ feelings about their businesses continually evolve. For many, businesses become less central to their owners’ lives. Over time, many owners want more flexibility in and freedom from their businesses. In deciding to back away from active involvement in the business, they may decide to keep it or sell it.

To enjoy the freedom to do so, your business must be prepared to continue without you. This preparation requires nothing less than creating and implementing the essential elements of a well-crafted Exit Plan so that the business is ready to be exited when the owner is ready to exit.

Engaging in Exit Planning does not mean that you chisel a departure date from your business in stone.

Business owners with Exit Plans can continue to be as active as they wish for as long as they wish.

I suggest that no matter when or whether you see yourself leaving, you must prepare the business for continuing without your involvement. This provides you the ultimate freedom to stay or leave as you desire.

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