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The Problem with Exit Planning

The problem with business exit planning

While exit planning can be an essential component of a successful business sale, a one-size-fits-all approach can create significant challenges for business owners planning to sell their business. This article, presented from an experienced business broker's perspective, exposes the limitations of generic exit planning and highlights the critical role of experienced business sale professionals in achieving a smooth and profitable exit.

Beyond the Checklist: The Limitations of Generic Exit Planning

Many advisers focus on a process-driven approach to exit planning, often relying on generic templates and checklists. This approach, while seemingly efficient, fails to address the unique needs and circumstances of each business and its vendor. It can often overlook crucial aspects like:

  • In-depth Business Analysis: A generic plan might not delve into the future market opportunity of your business, focusing on history only and not the complementary benefits of a deal with a strategic partner. This potentially leads to misleading value expectations and hindering negotiations.

  • Market-Specific Considerations: Understanding current market conditions, buyer behaviour within your industry is critical for a successful sale. Generic plans often miss sector related market opportunities and drivers.

  • Strategic Deal Structuring: Structuring the marketing and sale process to optimise the total deal value, tax implications and align with your post-sale aspirations requires expertise and actual transaction experience beyond basic planning steps.

The Peril of Disconnected Advice: When Advisers Don't Walk the Walk

A significant risk associated with generic exit planning is the potential disconnect between the planning phase and the actual sale process. Many advisers have never actually sold a business and may not be actively involved in the sale itself, leaving business owners vulnerable when it comes to:

  • Negotiation Strategies: Experienced business brokers can leverage their market knowledge and negotiation skills to secure the best possible deal for you. Generic advisers may lack these specific skills.

  • Targeted Marketing Strategies: Attracting the right type of buyer requires a targeted marketing approach. A generic adviser might not possess the expertise to effectively market your business to the ideal audience.

  • Deal Structuring Expertise: Structuring a sale to maximise your financial gain and minimise tax implications requires specialist knowledge. Generic advisers may not be equipped to navigate these complexities.

Real-World Consequences: Commercial Pitfalls to Avoid

Relying solely on generic exit planning can lead to several negative outcomes:

  • Misaligned Valuations: Without considering current market conditions and your business's unique strengths, the generated valuation might be unrealistic, deterring potential buyers and delaying the sale.

  • Protracted Sales Process: The lack of understanding regarding  buyer behaviour can easily lead to an inefficient marketing strategy, extending the sales timeline and incurring unnecessary costs.

  • Suboptimal Deals: Without skilled and experienced dealmaking , you might end up accepting a lower sale price than your business could achieve.

Learning from the Unexpected: Why Mike Tyson's Wisdom Applies

As Mike Tyson famously said, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." A business sales can be unpredictable and an experienced transaction adviser can guide, support and quickly respond when things do not go as planned. Generic exit plans, rigid and lacking in adaptability, can struggle to respond to unforeseen challenges, especially when they are not tied to the actual sale process.

The Antidote: Partnering with a Business Broker for Success

Many seasoned business brokers can offer a far more comprehensive and value-added exit service approach than a generic adviser. Business brokers who act as your exit planning partner, working collaboratively with you to navigate the entire sale process will provide a joined up preparation and transaction service.

You should expect:

  • Market-Specific Valuation: They assess your business's unique value proposition relative to current market conditions, ensuring best and true value from a process design to maximise the final sale price.

  • Strategic Marketing: They develop a targeted marketing strategy that attracts qualified buyers, avoids time wasters and creates competitive buyer tension in the business sale process.

  • Expert Negotiation: Their experience in deal structuring and negotiation ensures you keep control of confidentiality, the exit process and secure the best possible terms for your business.

Choosing the Right Partner: Beyond the Process

When selecting a business broker, go beyond flashy presentations and generic promises. Look for a broker with a proven track record of success with similar sized businesses. Evaluate their experience in:

  • Negotiation Techniques: Assess their ability to secure favourable terms through effective negotiation strategies.

  • Marketing Expertise: Evaluate their experience with targeted marketing campaigns that attract the right type of buyers.

  • Deal Structuring Knowledge: Ensure they possess the expertise to structure deals that optimise your financial outcome.

Conclusion: A Tailored Approach for a Successful Exit

Effective exit planning requires a strategic partnership, not a generic checklist. Partnering with a seasoned business broker ensures your business is positioned for a successful sale, achieving your financial goals and securing the legacy your hard work deserves.

Just remember, even the best plans require adaptability, and having an experienced broker by your side can help you navigate any unexpected punches that might come your way.

If you are thinking about the sale of your business and would like more information about exit planning, confidential business sales or a valuation. Please email


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