Isn’t planning great?  Some folks seem to spend their time writing stuff down and never really doing anything, while others write what they just did on a To Do list so they can cross it off.  One of Yogi Berra’s quotes is, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you certainly aren’t going to get there.”

Eventually (meaning NOW!) we must take action.  This is the third article in the Transitions series.  Here are 10 specific Action Steps for your business to strengthen your exit planning.

Action Steps.  Work on these key pieces of your business while planning.

  1. Review your finances – both personal and business – to clarify your future needs. Consider fee-only financial planners (see Certified Financial Planners) and don’t forget tax planning.
    • This exercise needs to be kept up to date, and will impact your decisions about goals – such as, can you afford to give the business away?
  2. Decide on your goals. Will you just close the doors (because no one else can do what you do)? Or gift the firm to friends or family?  Or sell – either to employees or to a third party?
    • Clarifying this step about target recipients or buyers impacts how you grow, diversify, and develop your employees for the future.
  3. Grow your business! Use every trick in your success book to move forward, trim fat, and get the best people on board to improve both your top and bottom lines.
    • This seems obvious, but it’s easy to get lost in planning or stuck in “unmotivated.” Keep close to an advisor or two who will relentlessly urge action here.
  4. Diversify customers and suppliers – create a broad, solid foundation for your business future.
    • This not only increases your present success and profit, regardless of your goals in #2, it also impacts the salability of your business in the future.
  5. Develop leadership and cross-training – remember your “Long Vacation” plan from the first Transitions article?
    • Maintain your “Operations Manual” with guidelines for all key processes. And you must develop trust in your employees and not micro-manage or do everything yourself.
  6. Create a succession plan – again this allows that vacation!
    • Focus on roles and responsibilities for teams and individuals, and train backup people for each key process. Test them with small responsibilities now to watch them grow and gain confidence.
  7. Interview and choose Advisors.
    • This is an on-going action step to ensure you always have  the right, objective professionals helping you succeed in all areas.
  8. Learn about business valuation if you want to sell.
    • Understanding the hidden complexities of this technique will guide you to increase your strategic value for any target buyer.
  9. Manage your risks.
    • Identify your biggest risks and new issues coming down the regulatory or legal road; be proactive  and invest in safety, quality, and prevention.
  • Repeat! Go back to number 2 above.
    • Update annually and tweak your Action Steps! Set aside ½ day every month to review progress and revise your To Do list.

Keeping these action steps on your calendar and top of mind will ensure you make progress toward this key goal.  It’s always best to have a trusted colleague or advisor keep you on track with these plans.

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