This is the second article about Transitions  – the ones you or your business could experience whether you plan for them or not!

This Tip will provide an initial Checklist to help you get started on a graceful exit.

It can’t cover everything: it’s intended to be a starting point.  Your primary goal is to get as much input and as many suggestions as you can.  So, let’s get started.

  1. Start Early.

You’ve heard about the ham and egg breakfast, right – where the hen is involved, but the pig is committed?  Well, your commitment to getting started and carrying through will be the glue that holds this important process together.

Even if you have no intention to “retire” or move on, get started now.  It takes time to make changes and to become confident with improvements.  And you never know what could happen, and quickly, to change your plans.

You know the stories – the person who becomes deathly ill overnight, or has a serious accident, and has never thought about protecting family, employees or the business. Or the family emergency that takes you out without warning.

  1. Seek Advisors. These can be formal or informal.

A consultant who recently sold her business, credits her success to a group of colleagues, and even competitors, she has been closely associated with for years.

  • Colleagues can be a wonderful source of information and honest feedback. They may know you and your situation better than anyone.  Ask for their ideas and introductions to people they trust; don’t scare them by asking for advice.
  • Experts can be harder to identify. Start some informal interview-type discussions to see if they merit being on your short list.
    • List the areas where you’ll need advice: Legal; Accounting and Tax; perhaps consultants in Exit, Strategic, and Financial Planning; Business Valuation; Risk Management and Insurance protection.
    • Some areas, like law and taxes, are highly specialized, and your current advisors may not explain that completely. Seek professionals with “exit experience” and get some references.
    • Some of the consulting areas can be ill-defined and finding the right people is hard. Be patient and don’t give up!  With a little research or Google searches (try “exit planning”), you can find multiple resources.
  1. Make Lists. There can be myriad details; keep track of what you learn.
  • The risk manager always says, “Write it down!” This helps you to remember, and allows you to share with others.
  • Accumulate and organize your experts, their advice on timing, other tips and traps.
  • Keep track of the pearls from your discussions and interviews.

This Checklist will be continued with #3. Action Steps – stay tuned!

Even if you only devote 30 minutes for thinking and planning per week, you can make significant headway.  And when it’s top of mind, you’ll think to ask others about their thoughts and experiences along the way.

Check out if you need a clarifying, no-obligation discussion, or some pro-bono consulting help about how to get any of this done.