A major part of my work is devoted to business consulting, and I work with enterprises ranging from small brick & mortars to auto dealer groups with thousands of employees. When a business has trouble at their bottom line, there’s invariably something in the middle that’s not being run right. In most cases, I can help find the snafu(s) and get the train back on track.
I also feel it is my responsibility to ask my clients at some point in our relationship if they have an exit strategy. “Exit strategy?” they ask. “I’ll be here forever.” But nothing lasts forever, and so I use the example of building design: every building has emergency exits. Just in case.
Often new businesses owners are so worried about turning a profit that they don’t give any thought to making long-range plans or setting goals right from the start. I recommend that you do, and you start with a few questions. For example:
- Are you interested in profits only? Do you intend to make as much money as possible, and then sell in 5 years? 10 years? If you do, then there is a plan to accomplish that.
- Are you interested in making a mark? Do you intend for your brand and your accomplishments to go down in history as the most successful ever? Is your business more of a cause than a business, and concern for the bottom line is secondary? There is a plan for that as well.
- Is your business going to be passed on to family members, or partners?
Define Your Goals
Perhaps your strategy is a mix of all three. The important thing is to have plans, and then an exit strategy. We all have to deal with life on life’s terms because we never know when an illness, a change in relationship status. a major change in consumer habits, a sudden shift in government policy may leap out of the darkness and change everything.
The act of creating an exit strategy, with the help of a professional business adviser, provides a framework for the entire life cycle of the company. Consider all possibilities and be prepared for them. Like the little card on the door of your hotel room that shows how to get out in a fire, most people don’t pay attention to it, but wise people do.
A friend recommended a beer from a Chicago micro-brewery and restaurant named “Exit Strategy” which I hope someday to visit. I viewed their website and saw a quote from John G. Shedd that read: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
Certainly boldness in business can vault you to the summit, but a prudent plan to prepare for the unexpected is something to strongly consider.