Planning for the Future: Create an Exit Strategy for Your Business

Creating an exit strategy may not seem critical when you first start your business, and it is a frequently overlooked aspect of a business plan. However, an exit strategy is an essential component of establishing a successful business, achieving your desired goals and preserving the wealth of your business. Business owners may find that future choices are restricted if they do not have an exit strategy. Ideally, an exit strategy should be part of your business plan from the beginning. A business exit strategy will give you a roadmap to follow as your business grows and changes. It will help you make decisions that are in line with your exit goals.
Creating an exit strategy is a complex process with many factors to consider. We will discuss the benefits of having an exit strategy, ways to exit your business, steps involved in developing an exit strategy, and when to seek professional help.
If you do not have an exit strategy, now is the time to develop one!

What is an exit strategy?

An exit strategy is a plan for how the business owner will leave the business, and it will outline how the business will be sold, transferred, or wound down. The exit strategy should be designed to achieve specific goals such as maximising the value of the business, preserving wealth, minimising taxes, and protecting family members. It may include key decisions such as when you will sell, to whom you will sell, and how you can ensure the continuity of your business. Depending on the goals of your strategy, it may include a succession plan, which is a plan for how the business will continue to operate without you.

The benefits of an exit strategy

It’s not always easy to decide to leave a business, and emotions may occasionally cloud your thinking. A planned exit strategy will help you make the best decisions for yourself, your family, and your employees. The many benefits of having an exit strategy include the following:

Help you make strategic decisions
An exit strategy will help you make decisions that will support your eventual exit, such as business improvements or changes, marketing plans, and human resources planning that align with your goals.

Ensure the continuity of the business
An exit strategy may include a succession plan which will help ensure the business’s continuity by outlining how the business will be managed in your absence. This is especially important if you are the company’s sole owner or key employee.

Smooth transition
An exit strategy can facilitate a smooth transition and reduce the stress of leaving your business by having a plan in place.

Provides clarity and peace of mind for the future
The planning process will help minimise the stress and anxiety associated with making decisions about your business and future. An exit strategy can also help to protect your family and employees by providing clarity and guidance on what will happen to the business when you leave.

Minimise taxes
An exit strategy can help you make strategic choices that will help you minimise your tax obligations.

You will identify the optimal time for selling
By having an exit strategy in place, you will be able to identify the optimal time for selling your business if this is your goal. This could be when the business is performing well, and you may profit from a seller’s market and receive the highest offer for your company.

A business with an exit plan is more attractive to buyers
When a business has an exit plan in place, it is more attractive to buyers. A well-thought-out exit strategy shows that the business is stable and has a solid foundation. It also indicates that the company is managed efficiently and that the owner wants to maximise profits for their shareholders. All of these factors work together to create a more valuable business.

Ways to exit your business

There are numerous ways to exit a business, and the most appropriate option will depend on your circumstances and goals. The most common ways to exit a business are:

  • Sell- This is the most common exit strategy and usually the most profitable. You can sell your business to a third party and receive a lump sum of cash for sale.
  • Merger- You can merge your business with another company to create a new entity. This is often done to increase market share, expand into new markets, or add new products and services.
  • Close down- If your business is not profitable, you may have to close it down, which involves shutting down operations and liquidating assets.
  • Succession- You can succession your business to a family member, employee, or interested party. This is often done to keep the business in the family or ensure continuity of operations. Ensure you have a succession plan to help make the transition smooth and seek professional advice to avoid potential pitfalls. It can be challenging to navigate a company’s succession with family and close relationships, it is recommended to get independent advice for valuations and the succession process to guarantee a fair outcome for all involved.

  • Acquisition – Another company can buy you out. This is often done to expand the acquirer’s business into new markets or products or as a way to eliminate competition.
  • IPO – You can go public with an initial public offering (IPO). This is a complex process and requires the help of investment bankers, accountants, and lawyers.

As you can see, there are many options available to you when exiting your business. The most important thing is to plan, and make the best decision for your circumstances.

Steps to develop an exit strategy

  1. Identify your goals and what you want to achieve with your exit strategy

Do you want to retire, sell the business, or transfer it to someone you know and trust? Do you want to maximise profits, ensure continuity of operations, or something else? Once you have identified your goals, you need to develop a plan to achieve them. This plan should include a timeline, financial projections, and a detailed analysis of the different exit options.

  1. Consider the structure of your business

This will impact the type of exit strategy you can pursue. Each business structure has its own legal and tax implications.

  1. Develop a timeline

You need to develop a timeline for your exit strategy. This will help you stay on track and complete all the necessary steps. It is essential to give yourself enough time to prepare for the transition. If you plan to sell your business, you should start planning for at least two years. This will give you time to find a buyer, negotiate a sale price, and complete the transaction.

  1. Tax considerations

One of the most important aspects of any exit strategy is tax planning. You need to ensure that you are taking advantage of all the available tax breaks and incentives that minimises your tax liability. This is a complex area, so it is crucial to seek professional advice to ensure that you are making the best decisions.

  1. Choose the right exit option for your business

After taking all the above steps into account, you may be ready to start deciding which exit option is right for your business.

  1. Get your accounting and bookkeeping in order

This is a crucial step in preparing your business for sale. It would be ideal if you had accurate financial statements and tax returns. This will make it easier to value your business and negotiate a sale price and help you avoid any potential legal problems down the road.
If you plan to close down your business, you need to make sure all of your financial obligations are paid off. This includes any loans, leases, taxes, or other debts. Once you have paid off all of your debts, you can distribute the remaining assets to shareholders or employees.
If you plan to succession your business, you need to make sure your books are to help the successor understand the business’s financial position and make informed decisions about the future.

  1. Implement the plan monitor its progress

This includes making sure that all the necessary paperwork is in order, the financial projections are on track, and that you are making progress towards your goals. It is essential to review your exit strategy regularly and make adjustments as needed. This will help you ensure that it is still the best option for your business and that you are on track to achieve your goals.
The exit strategy you choose will depend on your goals and objectives. There is no right or wrong answer, and you need to consider all of the factors involved and make the best decision for your situation. Taking the time to plan will help ensure a smooth transition and help you achieve your goals.

Get Professional Advice

You should seek professional advice when planning your exit strategy, including financial, legal, and tax advice. Exiting your business is a complex process and often takes longer than anticipated. You need to understand the implications of each exit option and how it will impact your business, so it is essential to have a team of experts to help you through the process. You will want to consult with your accountant, financial planner and lawyer to get the most accurate advice specific to your situation.

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