Business Owners: Don’t Make This Costly Mistake

business owners

As an advisor with over a decade of experience, there is one mistake that I have seen happen over and over again, and that in my mind is an easy remedy – having an Exit Plan. One of the most crucial steps in this journey is the development and implementation of an exit plan. Having an exit strategy in place 5-10 years before you plan to exit your business is not just a matter of foresight; it’s a fundamental component of ensuring the longevity, sustainability, and financial success of both the business and the business owner.

This article delves into the importance of early exit planning and outlines the benefits and considerations business owners must account for in this process. If you’d like to learn our thoughts on creating your Exit Plan we recently wrote an article about that.

Strategic Positioning

An early exit plan allows for strategic positioning of the business in its market. By understanding the end goal, business owners can make more informed decisions that align with their long-term objectives. This might include expanding into new markets, refining product offerings, or streamlining operations to enhance profitability. Such strategic moves not only contribute to a stronger market position but also increase the attractiveness of the business to potential buyers or successors.

Value Maximization

One of the primary goals of an exit plan is to maximize the value of the business at the time of sale or transfer. Beginning this process 5-10 years in advance provides ample time to implement value-enhancing initiatives, such as improving operational efficiency, building a robust management team, and establishing recurring revenue streams. These initiatives can significantly increase the valuation of the business, ensuring the owner receives optimal financial compensation for their years of investment and hard work.

Succession Planning

For many business owners, the exit from their business involves passing it on to a successor, which may be a family member, a group of employees, or an external party. Early exit planning is critical in succession scenarios to ensure a smooth transition. It allows time for the chosen successor to be identified and, if necessary, to be groomed for their future role. This process can involve training, mentorship, and gradually increasing their responsibilities within the business, thereby minimizing disruptions and maintaining business continuity.

Financial Planning and Security

Exiting a business often represents a significant life event that impacts the owner’s financial security and retirement planning. By starting the exit planning process 5-10 years in advance, business owners can work with financial advisors to develop a comprehensive financial plan that accounts for the proceeds from the sale or transfer of the business. This planning ensures that the owner’s personal financial goals, such as retirement funding, estate planning, and wealth preservation, are achievable and align with the timing of the exit.

Risk Mitigation

The business landscape is fraught with uncertainties, including economic fluctuations, regulatory changes, and industry disruptions. An early exit plan enables business owners to anticipate and prepare for such uncertainties, thereby mitigating risks associated with the exit. For instance, by diversifying the business’s revenue streams and reducing dependency on a small number of clients, the business becomes more resilient and appealing to prospective buyers, regardless of the market conditions at the time of exit.

Emotional Preparation

Exiting a business is not solely a financial or strategic decision; it’s also an emotional one. For many business owners, their business is a reflection of their life’s work, and detaching from it can be challenging. Early planning provides the necessary time to mentally and emotionally prepare for this transition, ensuring that when the time comes, the owner is ready to move on to the next chapter of their life with peace and confidence.

Market Timing

The decision to exit a business is sometimes influenced by market conditions. Having an exit plan in place well in advance gives business owners the flexibility to adjust the timing of their exit to coincide with favorable market conditions. This could mean exiting during a period of economic growth, when buyer interest is high and financing is readily available, thereby maximizing the terms of the sale or transfer.


The importance of having an exit plan in place 5-10 years before exiting a business cannot be overstated. Such foresight and planning ensure that the business is strategically positioned, its value is maximized, and the transition is smooth for all parties involved. It also ensures the financial security and emotional readiness of the business owner, allowing for a successful transition into post-business life. While the process of developing an exit plan can seem daunting, the benefits it provides in securing a positive legacy for the business and a prosperous future for the owner are invaluable. Engaging with experienced advisors to guide and support through this process can make it a strategic and rewarding journey, marking the culmination of a significant chapter in a business owner’s life and the beginning of a new, promising one.

If you have questions on your business come talk with us at Mills Wealth.