Do You Have an Exit Plan for Your Business?

Have you done exit planning? Business owners who invest in mentoring, teaching and empowering their employees will build value in their companies, and will find more time to do what is really important.

Private Equity Groups will not enter into a business venture unless they have an exit plan. Business owners need to do the same.

The Outlook for Small Businesses

Over the next ten years, the U.S. economy will experience an unprecedented rise in the number of businesses for sale as a result of baby boomer entrepreneurs retiring. Estimates range from fifty to seventy percent of all small business owners will exit their business! The result will be a huge supply of available businesses and a resulting downward price pressure for most privately-owned companies. The baby boomer generation has been one of the most entrepreneurial generations in the history of America.

During the last 40 years, over 5 million businesses with annual revenues ranging from $1 million to $75 million were founded. The owners of most of these businesses are now 60 years old or older and thinking about retirement.

Our profit has improved by more than $60,000 this year and we’re getting ready to build a new shop. We are using our extra cash to invest in our infrastructure and build our business capabilities. – Chuck and Tracy, Owners, Langford Welding and Fabrication

More Supply Equals Lower Selling Price

For those business owners who intend to sell to a third-party, it will become increasingly important that they position their business to sell successfully in an increasingly competitive market.  With 50% to 75% of business owners looking to sell, there will be more businesses for sale than buyers.  Now, more than ever, it will be crucial that business owners focus on doing everything he or she can to increase the attractiveness, value, and marketability of their businesses.

Unfortunately, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study showed that approximately 75% of private business owners have no Exit Plan in place.  25% of all business owners have done little or no estate planning.  For a soon-to-be retiring business owner, this is a recipe for disaster.

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What is an Exit Plan?

An exit plan is a comprehensive, fully-integrated plan that asks and answers all of the personal, business, legal, financial, tax and estate issues that are involved in exiting from a business.  This planning process guides business owners to begin positioning themselves and their businesses so that the owners accomplish their personal, financial and business goals when they exit.

Business Owners Improving Profits and Building a Team

Given the number of companies that will soon be on the market, business owners need to focus on improving profits along with building a management team that will stay when the business sells.  The owners need to grow top-line revenues in order to make their companies more attractive and to maximize the proceeds they receive at the time of their exit.

small business coach
small business coach

Results From Exit Planning

Exit planning delivers tangible results for savvy business owners.  It is typical for companies that have invested the time and effort to prepare themselves for sale to experience a substantial return on their investment. These companies sell for a significant premium over companies that come to the market unprepared. In addition, business owners are often able to reduce or in some cases eliminate the capital gains taxes. This often dramatically increases the after-tax net proceeds.

Peace of Mind an Important Benefit of Exit Planning

Perhaps the most important benefit of Exit Planning is the peace of mind that comes when a business owner knows that he or she is being proactive and taking charge of the future. This way the owner can take care of family and business because of wise stewardship. Deciding how and when to exit a privately owned business is perhaps the single most important financial and personal decision in a business owner’s life.

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Why Should Owners Begin Planning Now?

The oldest of the baby boomers was born in 1945 and is now 74 years old and the youngest is now 59. As of last year the number of business owners wanting to sell increased by five times. This trend will continue for the next 10 to 15 years.

Selling your business during the first half of the “baby boomer bubble” will provide the best chance of maximizing its value because the younger baby boomers who are retiring from corporate jobs will be active buyers. In the latter half of the baby boomer bubble, these new entrepreneurs will also be looking to exit. The economy is still recovering and we are in a strong economic cycle which creates a good environment in which to sell.

Now is a Good Time to Start Planning Your Exit

It takes approximately 2 years of focused activity to get your business ready to sell at a reasonable price. We are currently experiencing some of the lowest capital gains tax rates in the last 60 years. No one would be surprised if our government increased capital gains again in the near future.


To get started on the exit planning process as well as the exit process, get informed. Seek information from the best independent and objective sources possible. One good place to start is to talk with trusted advisors like your attorney, accountant, business coach, or financial advisor who focuses on privately held businesses. If you do not have strong cash flows, find cash flow solutions. Read this article on the Top Ten Ways to Improve Your Cash Flow. Employ sound marketing strategies and ensure that solid business growth is occurring.

“Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.”