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When I was starting a new business, some years ago, I was horrified when a business consultant turned to me and said: “What is your exit strategy?” I was just starting out and my mind was on start-up funding, getting the product right and then building a customer base. How could he possibly ask me about an exit strategy and succession planning, as he called it?

But as he explained, if you do not know your endpoint, how can you plot your path to that endpoint? Your exit strategy is after all the long-term goal you set for you and for your company. If you know what has to happen before you are prepared to exit your business, then you know what you are striving for.

As a retirement coach, I find many entrepreneurs take pains to tell me they are going to work in their businesses ‘till they drop’. Sounds like they are dedicated, but is that true? I am reminded of the job I took as CEO of a large NGO where my predecessor had been at the helm most of her life and one Friday she left work and never came back, having suffered a fatal heart attack. That, in itself, was devastating for her staff, but the nub of the problem lay in the fact that she had NOT bothered with the succession planning, and no-one had been groomed to step into her shoes. In fact, she was such a technophobe that she left with all the confidential information in her head as well.

So succession planning is what we draw up for when we hand over to someone else. It is, in essence, the action plan for your exit strategy. It may take place over years as you train and groom those who will take over the reins eventually, or it may only happen when you are ready to start withdrawing gradually. This is the ideal progression for any business, but how often do we remember to do it as entrepreneurs? Our business is, after all, our ‘baby’, but would you simply hand your child over to a stranger and walk away. No, you would want to make sure the child was in good hands before you left them.succession planning

So it is with a business. If it is a one-man show, you may be content to simply sell or close it when you are ready to move on. Succession planning would be simple. But if it has grown to have employees, you may not be able to simply close the doors.

So what is your exit strategy for your business? Will you get out when you reach a pre-specified level of turnover, will you hang in there till your son/daughter is old enough to take over or will you simply sell when you turn 65 and want to retire? If you plan this thoughtfully you will realise you have laid out your goal for the business.

As a retirement coach, with entrepreneurial experience, I can help you with your exit strategy and your succession planning.

Reach out to Hilary Henderson today and find out more about her, then book your session.
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