Last week, we looked at where Exit Planning experts come from. When owners and advisors know the process behind assembling a capable Advisor Team, everyone becomes more comfortable with where they’re going and how they’ll get there. Today, we’re going to look at some of the Exit Planning tools that enhance the Advisor Team’s capabilities to give business owners the best chance to exit on their terms.
Tool 1: Questioning and Listening Skills
It might seem hokey to say that the best tools Exit Planning Advisors have are their questions and their ears. But more than anything, the questions advisors ask and their ability to listen to business owners before launching into solutions are the most effective tools successful Exit Planning Advisors use.
Think about most Exit Planning situations. A business owner Is confronted with the facts that their business exit is inevitable; their business exit likely affects both themselves and people they care about; and they likely don’t have a plan to address those issues and more. Quite simply, how business owners plan their exits is one of the biggest decisions they’ll make in their business lives, if not THE biggest.
Addressing all of the issues in a business exit requires a lot of information. The business owner holds much of this information. To get this information, advisors must know not only the right kinds of questions to ask but also the right kinds of follow-up questions to ask. Most business owners have an idea for when they want to exit and who they want to run the business after they leave. Many fewer owners know how much their values-based goals mean to them, or how much their businesses are objectively worth, or what to expect throughout the process of actually transitioning ownership to someone else.
Knowing which questions to ask of business owners does two things. First, it establishes an advisor’s capabilities. Digging into the technical and emotional sides of planning takes special skill sets. Second, it establishes trust between the owner and the advisor. When advisors articulate the questions that owners themselves have been kicking around in their heads and then stop to listen, it creates a connection. “This advisor gets it. This advisor wants to help me, not sell me.”
Business owners expect advisors to guide them toward their goals. The only way advisors can do that with success is by asking the right questions and listening intently to the owner’s answers before providing solutions.
Tool 2: Other Experts
Exit Planning Advisors are typically experts in two things: their core practices (e.g., law, financial advisory, accounting) and Exit Planning. If an Exit Planning Advisor who’s also an attorney has a client whose primary need is building business value, the Exit Planning Advisor does not go beyond their expert focus. Instead, they call on other experts.
Members of the Advisor Team are crucial tools throughout the Exit Planning Process. They provide pinpoint precision in their areas of expertise. This reduces the time it takes for owners to tackle the biggest problems standing in the way of a successful exit. Each Exit Planning Advisor’s team is constructed of only the most capable experts, vetted by the Exit Planning Advisor. This creates a smoother process for the owner and the advisors because no one is asked to be an expert in all things. This keeps everyone focused on the one big goal: allowing owners to exit their businesses ion their terms.
Tool 3: Exit Planning Software
Keeping everyone on task, providing strong and actionable Recommendations, and helping business owners visualize their pain points can seem like a job in itself. EPIC—the only fully dedicated Exit Planning software—compartmentalizes each task relevant to the Exit Planning process. It lets advisors show business owners what matters most to them and how to best address problems to what matters most. It provides hundreds of different Recommendations that advisors can pare down to speak directly to the owner’s needs. And it’s a convenient communication hub that lets advisors see their responsibilities and fulfill them timely.
- Questioning and listening skills are foundational tools for Exit Planning experts. Without these skills, it’s difficult to shape and implement a successful Exit Plan.
- Members of the Advisor Team bring their specific expertise to address problems within their realms of expertise. No advisor is ever forced to act outside of their expertise, giving owners assurance that the advice they get is well thought out and actionable.
- Exit Planning software keeps everyone on the same page, provides countless unique Recommendations, and produces plans focused on letting the business owner exit on their terms.