Exit Plan or Peace of Mind Plan? The Transition Roadmap Is Both
Recently I was quizzing a long-time Exit Planner about her experience with owners and the Exit Planning Process. We talked about the obvious benefits to owners (financial security, leaving on their terms, etc.) when she added one I had quite forgotten: peace of mind. She related this story.
I called Martha to schedule her annual financial plan check-up and was surprised by the frustration in her voice. She told me that her company was only paddling along, far from both its potential and where it needed to be to allow her to attain all of her exit objectives. Just when she wanted to throttle back, she recognized that her business needed a sustained injection of her time and effort to move forward.
Martha had hoped to exit her company and begin enjoying the good life, but recognized that if she exited now (or anytime soon), that good life would be very short indeed.
Martha is a smart owner and knew what to do to reinvigorate her business, but she had no framework in which to organize her efforts. I suggested we work together to create a plan—with deadlines and accountability--to grow and prepare her business for the day she could step away.
Within weeks, Martha called me to thank me for changing her outlook. She told me that she felt incredible “peace of mind” and the only thing that had changed was that she now had an Exit Roadmap. Sure, she understood that she still had to make some hard decisions, but her Roadmap showed her how every one of them supported the goals she had set.
I asked this planner what she meant by hard decisions. “Well, as Martha’s plan developed existing management would have to step up to the plate or Martha would have to replace them. Martha realized that business growth was sluggish because management (and, truth be told, Martha) lacked energy and experience. She had been aware of this for some time, but had found excuses to procrastinate. Her excuses evaporated in the face of her timeline, process and chosen path. I was surprised at how easily she started making the necessary decisions to implement her plan. I think she found it easier to stay on a course that she selected than to float along with no course at all.”
This story reminded me of how I felt years ago when I created my Roadmap to exit my business after years of indecision. For me, and I believe for many owners, making the decision to move forward and creating a concrete action plan brought a sense of relief that I was finally doing something about my wish to exit!
Martha’s experience of finding peace in planning is not at all unusual. In a study published in 2009, researchers found that, Vacationers reported a higher degree of pre-trip happiness, compared to non-vacationers, possibly because they anticipate their holiday. Business success and successful exits bring peace of mind, but so too does the creation of a Roadmap to take you to those destinations. Don’t overlook the value of a well-planned journey.
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