Building and growing a business takes commitment, dedication, and hard work. As your business grows and grows, you may feel like a proud and protective parent – and understandably so. You nurture and support the growth and health of the company like raising a child. And then, there’s that proud moment when you know it’s time to let go. All your hard work has paid off, and a new chapter awaits you.
But how do you say goodbye? Most business owners find this emotionally difficult for many reasons. Some may worry about whether they will meet their financial goals. Others think about how to take care of their family, especially if family members benefit from the business, or could, in the future. Another concern may be what else needs to be done beyond running the business. “What should I do with my time?” asked a business owner.
These are all valid concerns, and they often prevent a business owner from moving forward after they should have moved to reap the benefits of their hard work.
Here are some steps you can take to start developing your exit plan.
Build your advisory team
President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized that he needed expertise around him to inspire major reforms. He created a close-knit group of advisers called the “brain trust” to help it succeed. Each of these advisors contributed the best knowledge from their respective areas so that President Roosevelt could make the most effective decisions.
Important roles to consider as you form your team as a business owner are a certified professional accountant, a business attorney, a wealth adviser, an investment banker, and an owner transition coach/ advisor.
A word of caution here: Be sure to get solid referrals for future team members. Then, when you interview them, look for not only their skills, but strengths that make you feel comfortable and confident, and their ability and desire to work as part of a team.
Make the plan
With the help of your advisory team, create your transition plan. It should address business succession planning and any leadership development and change needed, a plan for business and personal finances, and more.
Your team should help you with action steps and timelines, and they’ll give you points to consider that you might not have considered.
Once you have this plan, your transition coach should help you outline (and role-play, if you like!) any critical conversations you may need to have with key personnel, family, etc. This is often where many business owners stop. Be sure to ask for that help.
Identify what is holding you back
Even if you figure out your life “after the office,” you may find yourself hesitant to move on.
Identify what is causing you to stop. Point out any other doubts that are holding you back and deal with them. It can be a conversation you’ve been dreading.
Or maybe you’re just not sure what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. Every business owner’s situation is different.
A business owner I worked with finally confessed, “I’m ashamed that I don’t want to wake up that first morning with nowhere to go, and no one to rely on me for solutions.”
It was a sobering moment for her, and I was privileged to support her as we worked through a plan to address these fears and help her move forward.
If you find yourself stuck, please consider speaking with the appropriate member of the advisory team. They can help you work through what may be holding you back to help you embrace the next chapter.
Patti Cotton serves as a thought partner to CEOs and their teams to help manage change. She can be reached at [email protected]