When the mention of selling your business comes up, you might feel a little uneasy about starting the discussion. Your business is your baby, and the thought of letting go can be overwhelming. The truth is; however, failing to plan is a plan to fail when it comes to your business exit strategy. You need to have an exit strategy in place for your business. Everyone thinks of their future, but they don’t always take active steps in the present to prepare for what they want tomorrow. There are many reasons why you should discuss when and how to exit your business. Here are eleven reasons to have the exit conversation now:
1) Anything can happen at any time – This is so true. We cannot anticipate what will happen unexpectedly. For this reason, you need to have an emergency exit plan in place. What will you do if you have something happen that requires you to step down from your business quickly?
2) Family obligations are taking more time from the business – Business owners run businesses and have families all the time, but depending on the size of your business and the size of your family, you may need to spend more time away from the business. If you don’t have a team in place that can run the business without you for a few days, exiting might be your best bet.
If obligations, such as an ill family member, or a lot of educational or extracurricular commitments for your children are taking from your time, you could experience a negative shift in the dynamic of your business. A strategic partner can help you free up some time for your family while still allowing you to take an active part in your business’s growth. This type of partnership doesn’t require an immediate exit from your business and allows you to discuss an end-goal for this exit strategy with the partner you join.
3) Personal health issues are pulling you away from the business – When your personal health is in decline, it can be difficult to continue running the business. A business owner doesn’t need the undue stress caused by juggling an illness and the company.
Furthermore, if you find your health declining, or the health of a close loved-one, your priorities might change. Your view on where your time needs to be spent might be more focused on your personal relationships versus constantly working on growing your business.
Again, spending your time away from the business will have a direct negative effect on your revenue and daily operations. This makes the goal of achieving maximum value more challenging. Therefore, having an exit plan is essential.
4) You don’t have anyone in place to take over the business – You’re a great leader, and you run your business like a well-oiled machine. However, what happens when you’re gone? You need to have a plan in place. If you find your children aren’t interested in taking over, or if you don’t have any children, or if you don’t have a manager in place to take over, you need to know what you will do when it’s time to leave your business behind.
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5) You are getting burnt out – Running a business takes a lot of tenacity. The burnt-out feeling can creep in slowly and take hold in what feels like an instant. It’s important to balance your work life and home life, and that takes commitment and fine tuning. You need to set boundaries to make it work, and if you don’t have a good handle on taking time for yourself, and you are just barely keeping things afloat, exiting partially might be a good option to help you get back time to yourself and still have your business grow.
6) You aren’t doing what you love – There’s this ambitious view of starting a business. You think you can bring a new concept, service, or brand to the market, and you’re excited and ready to go. Everything starts strong and innovative ideas are flowing. Then, you hit a plateau and find yourself working on administrative tasks.
How did you get separated from doing what you love to do? You aren’t implementing new ideas and performing customer outreach like you used to. You don’t have time to research your competitors and bring new ideas to your business because all your time is tied up in making sure the business stays where it is and doesn’t fall behind. There are solutions for this.
A financial investor can help with those administrative tasks while you seek innovation. After all, no one knows your business like you. You can see where you want it to go, and you are confident you could achieve the next level success if you only had someone in place to do all the extra administrative tasks that have begun to fill your time.
7) The baby boomers are retiring – There are over 70 million baby boomers in the US, and they own more than 12 million businesses in the US. The sales of these businesses will saturate the mergers and acquisitions market in the coming years. More businesses for sale in the market means businesses will be sold for less. Right now, it’s the sellers’ market, but in coming years, it will be a buyers’ market. With more businesses to choose from, buyers will be able to negotiate lower prices for the investments they are considering. You don’t want to lose value because you wait too long. Now is the time to consider your exit strategy.
8) Low interest rates won’t last forever – There have been several changes in the market recently. Unemployment rates are below four percent for the first time since 2000, and it’s only expected to go down further. This is great for the workforce, but for business sales, it means an increase in interest rates. There are four interest rate hikes estimated to take place over the next year. Now is the time to take advantage of the current mergers and acquisitions marketplace.
9) Dry powder is at a record high – Reserves in dry powder have peaked, and this means private equity firms have more cash to spend on transactions. Now is the time to take advantage of this sum of cash waiting to be spent. The tax law created ample opportunity for investors to explore more options. Let yours be the one they choose while the market is still hot. If you can show how your business stands apart from the crowd, you can also negotiate competitive multiples for the purchase of your business.
10) Growing has become a challenge – Your business has grown a great deal, but now you’ve hit a plateau. How can you continue to experience rapid growth when you can barely keep up with your business as it is? It might be time to consider a strategic partner who can bring in a synergistic platform to help take your company to the next level and fulfill the vision you have.
11) You’re ready to slow things down and experience the other luxuries life has to offer – Being a business owner takes a lot of time away from other hobbies, life experiences, and family time too. And now? You’re at a crossroads. You love your business, but you love your family, and you want to experience some other things in life. Retirement isn’t sounding so bad, but you don’t know how to step away.
There are a multitude of reasons to begin the exit conversation for your business. This list is far from all inclusive, but it does illustrate why planning a proper exit strategy is essential as a business owner. The market changes, and it won’t be at its height forever. Starting the conversation is not a commitment to sell your business. You need to have a plan in place, and at least, if you start exploring your options, you will learn what choices you have.
If you are interested in exploring your options and better understanding the current state of the market and what’s expected in the near future, Benchmark International is a mergers and acquisitions firm dedicated to putting our clients’ needs first. We work to find you the best value for your business, and we don’t settle. We search until you find a deal that works for you and your business, both financially and culturally.