Exit Planning / Succession Planning – a Team Sport

Exit Planning or Succession Planning is a Team Sport. When I speak on exit planning / succession planning, I talk about four high-level steps. See also:  Step 2: Exit Planning / Succession Planning – Knowing Your Business Value, Step 3: Transferable Value Drivers – Exit / Succession Planning and Step 4: Business Exit Options.


Step 1: Exit and Succession Planning is a Team Sport

We have advisors and coaches in all facets of life. But in this most important area for our future, for our family and for our retirement, most business owners are pretty much just “winging it”. Oh, they may have an accountant but not much more of a team to focus on exit planning in all its facets. That team is critical for successful succession planning.

Business owners start their companies to create their future. But they often lose sight of the key to making that future happen – building value. They get caught up in the day-to-day and don’t get to implementing the sustainable, positive change that allows them to transition on their own terms.

Consider: “…78 percent of small-business-owner clients plan to sell their businesses to fund their retirement. The proceeds are needed to fund 60 percent to 100 percent of their retirement needs. Yet, less than 30 percent of clients actually have a written succession plan…”
http://www.cnbc.com/2015/04/13/ew-small-biz-have-an-exit-plan.html   [I would suggest that 30% is generous, and even if accurate, that those plans are not very effective, for growth or for exit planning.]

When I speak on exit planning / succession planning / transition planning, I talk about four high-level components.

Step #1: Build a Team of Advisors.

Nobody knows everything about everything. Many of my clients are in creative industries, designing, creating, building. You don’t want me in that role. But I have worked with many organizations and have a different experience and skill set than my clients. I bring ideas and experience from many industries and many client engagements. The other critical exit planning team members bring their own expertise to the table. These should include:

  • Business Consultant / Coach
  • CPA
  • Financial Advisor
  • Business Attorney
  • Insurance Expert
  • Estate Planning Attorney
  • Banker
  • Business Transaction Expert

When I work with a client, we build this team. The players may already be in place. Or, we may bring in advisors where there is a gap. Either way, we need this core team working with the owner. A business is complex. An action taken in marketing impacts finance, HR, and more. Big decisions need to take into account the effect on the whole organization and should support clear goals focused on building value.

The client receives much better advice and guidance with this approach.

This does not mean that you are going to start hiring all of these people and employing them full time as you work toward your transition…especially if you have a few years to go. But, you should use them strategically as you build your business plan / succession plan. With major decisions on growth, expenditures, hiring…engage their expertise.

The Bottom Line

Find advisors who understand what you are all about and your growth and exit planning objectives. More importantly, find advisors with whom you can feel comfortable. Make sure that they can work together, and with you, as a team.



More Reading:

Step 2: Exit Planning / Succession Planning – Knowing Your Business Value

Step 3: Transferable Value Drivers – Exit / Succession Planning 

Step 4: Business Exit Options.

Customer Experience – Driver of Business Value

Business Transition – Case Study


David Shavzin, CMC
Atlanta, Georgia