Exit planning is an integral part of running any business. Ideally, your exit strategy should be in place from day one, so all big decisions help to not only build a successful business, but also a successful exit. For many business owners, exit planning isn’t just about selling for a big payday. It’s about a lifestyle change where they are not completely wrapped up in their business and able to enjoy a more flexible schedule. If you are looking to ease away from your business and not quite ready to step away completely, here are a few exit strategies that can allow you to remain involved post-sale, so you can enjoy more flexibility without walking away completely.
Advantages of a Staying With the Company
Planning to stay on after the sale of your business has some attractive benefits. From a monetary perspective, offering to stay can increase the sale proceeds. This is because the company will have a smoother transition to new ownership and will benefit from existing business relationships that are dependent on the owner. It could also enable you to earn a salary for your post-sale role. From a personal perspective, continued involvement helps you to adjust and plan for the next phase of your life. If you’re not ready to hang it up entirely this can buy you some time.
Chairman or CEO Role
After the sale, you could continue to play the role of the CEO, until the new owner is more comfortable with taking the reins. Sellers who chose this path do it because they want to stay involved with high level decisions that the company makes and help guide its future. Meanwhile, they can still earn a salary, while being less consumed with the business. Buyers like it because it gives them the benefit of the seller’s experience and knowledge.
If you decide to take this route, you need to have a well-defined exit plan, and communicate your intentions clearly with prospective buyers. Have clear answers for the buyer on how long you plan to stay and why you should stay on in this role. While many buyers might like the idea of you staying with the company to guide its transition, they may not be comfortable with you having too much decision power, or paying you a high salary.
If you are looking for less of a time commitment and are comfortable with taking a back-seat role, staying on as a consultant might be a better fit than CEO. The buyer still gets assurance that they will receive guidance for a certain amount of time. It also might work better for buyers who don’t want to pay a CEO salary or have the seller occupy a decision-making role. The demand for business consultants is steadily growing. Potential buyers are usually somewhat concerned about how the business will fare in transition and having a consultant can help them see a path towards running the company on your own.
Selling Part of the Business
You may decide to sell your business off in stages, perhaps by selling a portion of it to an eventual successor. This option could be the most lucrative if you are able to execute it properly. You could sell a percentage of the company and continue to grow it for an even more profitable future sale. Sellers who chose this option often make more money from the second sale with less equity. In addition, you can dictate your involvement and the pace at which you phase yourself out. This arrangement works well for the buyer too. With the seller retaining ownership stake, they have personal motivation for continuing to grow the business.
Preparing for personal and professional life post-sale is an important part of transitioning away from your business. Even if you don’t plan on selling soon, everything you do today will set you up for the eventual departure from the company. If you are starting to think about your exit because you want more freedom and flexibility, consider one of these options when building or modifying your exit plan. They could give you the opportunity to gradually transition to the next stage of your life, while still being involved in the business you worked so hard to build.
If you’re starting to think about selling your business, or steadily reducing your involvement, contact Corporate Investment Business Brokers (CIBB). We are exit planning experts, having helped thousands of business owners achieve their exit goals since 1986. Preparing to sell can take a few years. You don’t have to wait until you’re ready to start the process.
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