How Does Exit Planning Fit Into Overall Business Planning?
Recently, we spoke to an advisor who asked an interesting question: “How long do I have to wait before I start seeing returns on Exit Planning?” This advisor was intrigued by the benefits of Exit Planning but also feared that it would take too long to reap those benefits.
Short-Term Sacrifice for Long-Term Gain?
The main concern this advisor presented was that he would have to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. But that’s not how Exit Planning works. Exit Planning isn’t an island. Advisors rarely replace their core services with Exit Planning. Instead, successful Exit Planning Advisors tie Exit Planning into their core services because the two complement each other so well.
Consider some of the most important aspects of Exit Planning:
- Closing the Asset Gap: This includes investing non-business assets to supplement the money owners get from the sale/transfer of their businesses. Financial advisors can receive short- and long-term gains under this requirement.
- Minimizing taxes: A huge goal (and draw) of Exit Planning is minimizing taxes owners must pay after selling/transferring their businesses. CPAs and attorneys can find a glut of short- and long-term fee-generating work under this requirement.
- Obtaining next-level management: Whether internally or externally, owners will need next-level management to run the company after they exit. Buyers (both insiders and third parties) rarely pay top dollar for businesses that don’t have next-level management. Business consultants can capitalize on this need by providing their services to either train internal management or help owners obtain outside management, producing short- and long-term fee generation.
- Preparing for the unexpected: Death, incapacitation, divorce, overly ambitious key employees, and fallings out with co-owners are just a few unexpected events that can damage the business both now and later. Insurance advisors can provide coverage to protect against these risks that goes beyond a simple Buy-Sell Agreement. In tandem with a business continuity plan, insurance advisors can reap short- and long-term gains.
And these are just a few of the ways Exit Planning integrates with most advisors’ core practices. Exit Planning doesn’t require short-term sacrifice for long-term gain. When advisors implement Exit Planning properly, it can increase short-term gains by uncovering opportunities that weren’t present before.
Exit Planning as Extended Business Planning
Rather than looking at Exit Planning as a standalone enterprise, owners and advisors should look at it as extended business planning. BEI’s CEO, Jared Johnson, summed up this idea:
"Exit Planning isn’t merely an opportunity that comes far down the road. Exit Planning gives advisors short-term opportunities to provide services and collect fees through their core offerings because these core offerings are relevant to Exit Planning. Completing the Exit Plan is the culmination of all that work."
Some business owners take issue with the phrase “Exit Planning,” especially if they don’t intend to exit the business at all. However, Exit Planning truly is extended business planning. Building business value, minimizing taxes paid, creating strong internal teams and systems, and reducing risk are all essential to successful business planning while the owner is running the business. Exit Planning takes all of those elements and extrapolates them. An immediate benefit to both owners and advisors in this setup is that the business owner isn’t at the hub of decision making. The owner doesn’t have to assemble the various advisors needed to create and implement an Exit Plan.
Instead, Exit Planning Advisors assemble the Advisor Team, which consists of various advisors who can best achieve the owner’s business goals, using their networks and planning tools. Advisors on the Advisor Team have greater access to clients who otherwise may not have worked with them if not for Exit Planning. For example, a business owner may have a CPA who cannot do complex tax work relevant to extended business planning. In this case, the Exit Planning Advisor can call upon a CPA he/she knows can do the work. This provides the business owner with the best professional for the job, builds trust between the owner and the Exit Planning Advisor, and creates a new opportunity for the CPA that the Exit Planning Advisor recruited—which is often an opportunity that that CPA would not have had without Exit Planning.
With the right tools and resources, advisors don’t have to wait long to begin reaping the benefits of Exit Planning. Because Exit Planning is extended business planning, it allows advisors to provide sought-after services and collect well-earned fees over longer periods of time. It also allows advisors to help business owners plan for the kind of lifestyle they want for themselves and their families, both now and upon their inevitable exit. Business owners benefit by proactively preparing their businesses for when they eventually leave with help from advisors best suited to achieve whatever goals they might have.
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