How Clear is Your Vision – For Your Exit Plan?

As a professional investment banker and Exit Planner, over the past two decades I’ve guided scores of clients through the process of selling their business. A lot of the time, these business owners come to me when they are already pretty far along in the process. Sometimes my clients don’t even begin looking for outside help until they’ve spent frustrating months trying to “shop” their company on their own and perhaps even have gotten to the point of closing the transaction with a buyer only to find out at the eleventh hour that their “perfect” buyer wasn’t so good after all.

It’s certainly possible to turn a situation like that around, but it usually takes a lot more time, money, and headache than anyone wants to spend, especially if he or she is ready to move ahead into enjoying retirement or starting that new venture. Instead, how much more effective and profitable the process of planning your business exit can be if every year or so you take the time to step back and envision how you really want to transition out of business ownership when the time comes.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I have to say it again: It’s never too early to begin thinking about your Exit Plan. And – almost as important as starting the planning process early is being intentional about creating a vision for your business exit. I often wonder why business owners seem to overlook this visioning process. To me, it’s as important as creating a yearly operating budget – because if you spend years of hard work making your business profitable, why wouldn’t you want to have a clear vision in place of how to realize the greatest possible profit at the time you most need it – when you’re ready to sell your business?

Also, most of my clients find that jumping into the visioning process with intentionality and enthusiasm turns out to be a lot of fun. You get to imagine exactly where you want your business to go in the future, and then be creative about how to get there. Instead of just letting things unfold haphazardly (as life tends to do) until you’re burned out with putting out fires and keeping the business afloat, you’ll have a map to inspire the journey. And you’re the mapmaker!

In upcoming posts, I’ll suggest some practical questions you can ask to get the visioning process underway. But the most important factor in the Exit Planning visioning process is your willingness to start early and take time to really look at your business and where you want to take it between now and when you’re ready to transition into retirement.


About Gary T. Brooks

Gary T. Brooks has over 27 years of experience in the investment banking industry and has been involved in over 100 transactions. He is currently the CEO of ExitPlanPros, where he helps business owners grow their business while planning their exit.

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