Exit Strategies for Business

Exit strategies for business support the lifestyle you choose, independence you can preserve, income that will last abundantly, and an estate to preserve family and philanthropy.  Healthy strategies toward sale of a business are also vital to communities that want to protect and increase employment.  Everyone wins when we can get this right.

Exit strategies for business ...since 'opening day'

A business owner was sharing with me the challenges that arise for an owner thinking to exit their business -- and when they should begin this journey.

Exiting the business was on Sue's mind from the first day she opened it!  Somehow she knew her role in building the business was to sell it.  She told me people have been shocked at her perspective; they say there's always too much to do, and never time to think of preparing for sale.  But Sue has been wise.  She built a business for a purpose and service in community, and kept in mind she would someday need to unlock this value so she could move into retirement when she chooses.

Dozen reasons to delay preparing your exit

While a business owner may want the pride and joy of unlocking their fortune as they sell and exit the business, what forces may lock them into never selling?   Here are a dozen reasons people have told me through the years:

  1. I'm busy today and don't want to stop.
  2. I can't afford to retire -- I don't have enough money.
  3. My wife said I can't retire -- that we don't have enough money.
  4. I don't know what I'd do with myself when I eventually sell my business.
  5. I'm waiting for my children or team members being ready to head the business.
  6. I haven't prepared a way to mentor my children or team to take over the business.
  7. I've checked, and my business isn't attracting the price I want, what I feel it's worth.
  8. I've don't want to stop paying some of my personal expenses from the business.
  9. I want to keep my health coverage ....which is inside the business.
  10. Someday if I get a major health problem, then I'll sell.   (ouch!)
  11. My family or partners can sell or close this down after I die.
  12. No one else can keep this business going like I can.

Popping the cork with exit strategies for business

Business-building_picAre you thinking what I'm thinking?  We could discuss any of these excuses for delay, and come up with solutions to protect the owner(s), their family, as well as the community value of this enterprise and its employment.  None of the above factors needs to bottle-neck sale of a business.  With preparation personally and corporately you can attract value and terms you're willing to accept.

Consider some stories I'm sharing among learning modules on this website (GuaranteedIncome4Life.ca) and many of them are also in my book, A Lifetime Of Wealth -- And How Not To Lose It.   http://www.ALifetimeOfWealth.info/

Two of our stories to celebrate results

Tom wanted to sell his business.  Buyers weren't offering the price Tom felt he needed.  We looked at income strategies to fulfill lifestyle and bucket-list goals to age 95+ ....based on offers he had been receiving.   This gave Tom and his wife the freedom to negotiate with less pressure about the price.   (See more at  http://www.ALifetimeOfWealth.info/)

Beth cleaned up her share of bottle-necks and gained $3Million after tax.  With this she secured income-mandates with $2Million while targeting $1Million for a venture among her children.  Beth freed herself to travel widely and enjoy life as she chooses, while also being an angel and mentor for the next generation's enterprise.   (See more at  http://www.ALifetimeOfWealth.info/)

Alternatives to avoid (don't get stuck in these!)

Fred in his role as controller said the business would never sell because the owners wanted nearly double what the market would pay.  The owners' personal identity, comfort in showing up at work, habit of drawing large sums of money out at will, and an absence of other things to do in life, contributed to an out-sized opinion of what they felt their business was worth.  If we hadn't found other ways to approach these gentlemen their business might have folded worthless.

Another told me that at 82 years of age he'd never sell his business.  He said, "I have to keep working another 9 years because then all my staff will have retired and I can close this place down."  I admire his kindness and the loyalty he and his staff have for each other.  But instead of coasting to the end of the track, what of the larger picture if fresh hands could build existing strengths into new product lines and wider geographic footprint!

Death and delay are not the best exit strategies for business.  Such will sabotage the value you can unlock for your own life and for family and estate.  And remember the other families whose work, home payments, lives today and future, depend on how successfully you can prepare a healthy exit.

Designing your own exit, and a team to build results

Business_Building2picWhat is your story?  Are you preparing how you'll shed your daily stress to enjoy the life you choose?

What can you learn about exit strategies for business which can assure the value you need and the lifestyle you want to enjoy?

Have you envisioned how you want to be enjoying life beyond this business?  If that's what may be holding you back I've added other resources on this website to help people create the story and envision the future of your dreams.

Is a certified financial advisor aligning the life you want with the wealth you've created?  Can they build and nurture your confidence in a life-income that will serve you forever?

Consider your family, team members, friends and professional advisors -- everyone who can be a resource for you.  Are you consulting these people to equip you and ensure you're moving ahead with strategies and solutions to secure the results and the life you seek?   (Also see video discussion here.)

More in our learning modules at:  guaranteedIncome4Life.ca
Amazon or Kindle:   "A Lifetime Of Wealth -- And How Not To Lose It."
“Subscribe” — see on this page — to get upcoming insights and updates.
Brian Weatherdon, MA CFP CLU CPCA MDRT




  1. Love pt #3 here Brian on “reasons to delay planning your exit”

    Great article. Lots of good advice.

  2. Great insights Brian. It’s never to early to start planning, and having ‘The End’ in mind. A business owner will ask themselves different questions on how to best utilize their time when they have a clear goal, and will then be able to move towards it, and avoid being one your ‘worst case’ scenario examples.

  3. I personally find this information very helpful – one of the serious flaws with most people’s thinking around exit strategies is they believe that it can happen overnight. That thinking is just plain wrong – quick exits always result in unrealized enterprise value and consequently, a reduced retirement fund. The best exit plan is an early one – my general rule of thumb is that it will take five years to exit a business once the decision has been made. During this period, the financial statements need to be cleaned up, the profitability improved and a general house keeping of the business needs to take place – make your business worth something for someone else to buy. The most important point – make your professional advisors (lawyer, accountant and financial advisor) part of the solution. Tell them early about your plans to exit, leverage their contacts and expertise to help you to exit and listen to their advice in order to maximize your enterprise value.

  4. Brian – these stories bring to mind two issues. First, that retirement for boomers is a tough sell…for some reason, they think this means they are old and their life is over. Transition planning may be a phrase easier to stomach. Second, they are reticent to utilize external experts. Business owners are first and foremost, entrepreneur so they tend to think of themselves as experts in everything. There is not only a need for financial planning experts but, I might suggest a) professional manager to manage the business so the owner can get in some ‘practice’ as a retiree or b) business coach or mentor to help the owner evaluate his business lifestyle and how to transition into the next stage or c) marketing expert to help them position the business for sale. Just a few suggestions how seeking experts with specific expertise will help the boomer business owner transition onto their next career (as this is really a career change, isn’t it?)

  5. I find many clients using the same excuses when I raise the issue of succession planning for their business. My response to them is to ask: “Who will be left to deal with the business when you are no longer able to?” If the plan is simply to have the family sell the company or close it down when they can no longer run it anymore or upon their death they are leaving a great deal of work and headaches to go along with the heartache their family will be dealing with at that time. Creating a plan and putting it in place so that your family is not left with this to deal with at a time when they should be able to focus on other, more important, things is a tremendous gift to your family that should not be overlooked.

  6. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. I am looking forward for your next post…

  7. Your article is great. I kind of think of exit strategy planning as investing time in your biggest retirement asset just like you invest money in your RRSP to grow over time. I think every business owner should have an end game in mind (Which can change), so that if the need arose they would be able to get their money out.

  8. “Is a certified financial advisor aligning the life you want with the wealth you’ve created?
    Can they build and nurture your confidence in a life-income that will serve you forever?”

    These are the questions every business person needs to ask and plan accordingly.

  9. Thank you Joseph for your two probing questions here. You are absolutely right. Business owners will come to a time they should sell. Or they may wish to transition away from such an active role in their business. Yet if the question remains unanswered about how to draw a secure income which will continue perpetually for their life goals and dreams (through retirement as well as value for their estate) then their desire to retire may stay on “hold”.

    The vigorous approach to Lifestyle Financial Planning revealed in this website (and the book) aligns the business owner’s life-goals and life-income…and then also perpetuates value for family and philanthropy that is dear to one’s heart.

    With a secure platform of “life income mandates” the business owner can now confidently proceed toward sale or succession of business and enjoy life as they choose.

  10. Absolutely well written, really enjoyed.

  11. Great points altogether, and you have gained a new reader.

  12. Thanks for writing this impressive article. Very useful.

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