A Business Planning Checklist for YOUR Transition
Suppose you were thinking about transitioning out of your business in the next few months, or even three years from now. Would you know where or how to start the process? Most business owners do not know the answer to that question. As a result, between 50% to 70% of all privately held businesses that are in play, fail to sell. With a sound plan, your chances of a successful transition are greatly increased, regardless of whether you wish to transfer the business to family, employees, management, or to a third party. You should begin developing a Business Planning Checklist for your transition at least 3-5 years prior to you actually making the sale/pass-off. Here are the top 8 things to plan for in your business transition.
Phase One: 3-5 Years Out
Assemble your team of advisers to discuss your options
- Business/M & A attorney, Estate Planning attorney, CPA, Wealth Manager, Exit Planner, Business Consultant or Coach
- Make sure each are educated and practiced in the transition and succession planning
- Meet quarterly on a specific Transition agenda to get their expertise, making sure all bases are covered.
Update your Strategic Plan
- Create one, if you don’t have one with the help of a business consultant/coach who understands exit strategy as well.
- Implement new strategies for growth and improvement to the business; now is not the time to take your foot off the gas. It’s rather the opposite.
- Create as much ‘curb appeal’ as possible, but make sure your internal processes and documentation are accurate and in order, namely your financials
Discuss Key Person employee retention programs with your wealth manager and M & A attorney and get them implemented. The value of your key people to a potential buyer is higher than you think and you can’t afford to lose them.
- Focus on growing the Culture of your business and increasing employee engagement
- Implement best practices in hiring, firing, training and recognizing employees
Update and document internal processes, trade secrets and other Intellectual Property
- Use services of IP attorney to register or update trademarks, patents and copyrights
- Focus on Brand development with the help of a brand/marketing expert
- Promote the brand
Update your Marketing plan
- Revise your website
- Implement a Digital Marketing plan with measurable ROI
- Raise your Net Promoter Score
Normalize your Financials with the help of a good CFO
- Stop using your business as an ATM
- Visit with your wealth manager on whether to diversify your equity before the sale
- Make sure you are the proper tax entity well before the liquidity event
Start working on a plan for your Next Act
- Do you have enough to retire; do you WANT to retire?
- How will you spend your time?
- Is there another business in your future?
If you have an internal successor:
- Begin with hiring a consultant to do assessments measuring leadership and business acumen
- Have candid conversations about goals, desires and expectations
- Be very clear on what your new role will be; make sure everyone in the company knows it
- Make sure that terms of financing the deal are planned and agreed upon far in advance with agreements in writing
Whether you are selling to an outside third party or are transferring the business to family members or to employees, observing this process is still recommended. The purpose of the process is to improve value and to integrate the affairs of the business with your own personal needs. This Business Planning Checklist for Transition Planning will help get the ball rolling to accomplish that.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it will give you a good start on this very complicated and lengthy process of transition planning. Don’t go it alone; assemble a good team who know the answers, so you can sleep at night!