When you were growing your business, filled with an overriding sense of potential, did you also start thinking about your exit plan?
Likely not. And with good reason. Entrepreneurs, business owners, and boards of directors are enthusiastic about their potential for success. They aren’t thinking about that moment when they are ready to retire. Or move on to a different business challenge. Or want to while away the days on a desert isle, sipping margaritas and reflecting upon their many successes.
But that day has come for you, which is why you’re in need of an exit strategy for your business.
We’re here to help.
Our six-part Business Exit Guide for Business Owners is the place to start your journey to the next chapter of your life and business.
When it’s time to step away from the business you’ve built — because you’re ready to retire, you want to pursue another opportunity, or for some other reason — what’s the right way to exit your business?
The short answer is: It depends.
Here, we lay out five examples of exit strategies and look at who should consider each one.
The Roy family of “Succession,” the critically acclaimed series about which of the Roy family offspring would take the reins of the family-owned media conglomerate Waystar RoyCo., should serve as a cautionary tale for any business owner considering retirement. Business succession planning cannot be left to underlings to duke it out for control.
Succession planning is important for any business — family-owned or not. It’s critical for business continuity, preserving the legacy, and a smooth transition.
When it’s time to step away from the helm and choose a successor, there are three options available:
Actually choosing the person who will be your successor is the second step in this process. The first step is identifying where the company will be when it’s time for the successor to step into a leadership role. Do you expect the company to be sailing along at an even keel, continuing to do what it already does so well? Or are there rougher waters ahead that will require more creative leadership?
Having a keen idea of where your company will be when you plan to step away from daily leadership is critical to understanding what competencies and skills the new leader will need – and to maximizing the worth of the organization as you convert your ownership interests into cash.
Once you have a good idea of that, it’s time to begin searching for just the right person to lead your company into the future.
And, a side note: Even if your exit strategy is to sell the company, you cannot skip this step! The buyer will want to know that you have made plans for a smooth transfer of leadership.
There’s bad news and good news when it comes to family business transition to the next generation.
First, the bad news: Only about one-third of businesses survive that transition. Here’s how theHarvard Business Review put it in a 2022 article: “In many family businesses, the tension between the eagerness of the next generation’s leaders to take control, and the founding generation’s willingness torelinquish control, is the source of many failed relationships and companies.”
Now, the good news: It doesn’t have to be that way. With a lot of planning, honest conversation, and realistic expectations, family businesses can survive and thrive for generations to come.
Here, we dive into the challenges of transitioning a family business to second-generation leadership and how to navigate those challenges successfully.
Selling your business to private equity is a potentially very lucrative business exit strategy. In fact, the second sale — when the PE firm sells the company outright to recoup its initial investment — can be even more lucrative than the first deal when you sell to a PE firm.
But selling your business to a private equity fund is a complicated sale process and you could end up partners for a number of years before getting a big buyout when the second sale closes. So it’s important to understand all of the ins and outs before embarking on this path.
Here, we share 9 important questions you should ask if you are considering selling your business to private equity.
When your company is stalled or facing transition, there are two ways to get help: adding a new leader to the team or helping the leaders you have be the best they can be. When you need a new leader, an interim, part-time or fractional executive can be on site quickly, leading the change. When you have the leadership your company needs, bringing in a business coach can help him or her rise to the new challenge.
Yes, our InterimExecs RED Team executives sometimes play a mentoring role at companies where they serve. But that is a specific use case to mentor someone who is being trained into higher responsibility. Most interim and fractional executives do not consider their operational roles, even if including mentoring, to be the same activity as a dedicated business coach.
Business or executive coaches are an external resource. They work with the executive on leadership skills and personal development.
As entrepreneurs and small business owners, my partner, Olivia Wagner, and I have long understood the benefits of business coaching. We have met with a business coach and used his services to help us refine our business strategy and cement our professional partnership.
Business coaching offers a distinct form of leadership development. So, I wondered, how do business coaching services do what they do so well?
May 6 and 7 marked the fourth InterimExecs’ RED Roundtable (Rapid Executive Deployment), a gathering of top interim executives in Chicago. Executives across a range of specialties from CEO to CFO, COO, CIO, CMO, and CRO met for a mix of speakers, discussion, and sharing best practices on creating high performing companies.
The event kicked off Monday morning at William Blair’s headquarters where innovation expert, Jeff Leitner, drew on extensive research and 20 years’ experience improving operations to share why most change initiatives fail and what we can do about it. Interim executives discussed how Jeff’s findings applied to assignments they jump into where they often are called on to drive disruption, innovation, and powerful change.
We just experienced possibly the largest wave of CEO departures in recent history. Was it due to falling profits? Poor succession planning? Or is there more drama behind the scenes? Think firings, hurt egos, politics, and personal infighting. Author Isabelle Nüssli uncovers one of the big reasons for turmoil at the top ― the fractious relationships between egos at the executive level, particularly between CEO and chairperson. Hence the brilliant title of her new book, Cockfighting: Solving the Mystery of Unconscious Sabotage at the Top of the Corporate Pyramid.
“When you read the news, usually the reason [given for the CEO leaving] was strategy misalignment or different leadership style or different chemistry, etc. But the story that is not put out to the public is that there was a relational conflict, which apparently is the case most of the time,” says Nüssli.
Everything seemed to be going well for a public software company. Growing at a rate of 50-100% for three years straight, the company was gaining momentum until one day it all came to a screeching halt. Just weeks before the annual 10-k report was due the board uncovered that the CEO and CFO had been taking a few too many creative liberties with expense reports and were stealing money from the company…yes, they were embezzling funds – a nightmare scenario for a public company.
The board went to work, firing both of the full-time executives for cause. They immediately appointed an Interim CEO and reached out to us at InterimExecs to bring in an Interim CFO to help them navigate through murky waters.
“It was a full-fledged crisis that included issues with culture, staff, investors, analysts, debt holders, Board members, auditors, the SEC and activist shareholders,” said a board member.
First-year Change Agent members have access to the Interim Institute’s 4 hour audio program on the Fundamentals of Interim Management, and a one-hour strategy session to help jumpstart their interim career.
*$200 additional charge for Accelerator Program only applies for first-year members. After the first year, membership renews at $485/year.
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