“Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.” – Tom Stoppard
The reality you never could have imagined, all those years ago, is here. Business exit strategy? Succession plan? Strange acronyms such as “ESOP?” Seriously?
Creating is hard. Letting go might be even harder.
It’s time to exit the business you spent your life – employing endless sweat and tears – building.
The countless hours. All the people, mostly good (with a few exceptions). Decisions, some made on good information – others purely on gut.
Sleepless nights. Frustrating (occasionally) days. And, finally, satisfaction as your vision took root and became reality.
A whole raft of decisions now await. Where do you start? How do you go about this? Whom can you trust for advice?
You just know one thing: You want to do it right.
Considering the Options
You recognize the company wasn’t a one-man (or woman) band. Some really good people worked hard. They demonstrated immense loyalty. You don’t want to leave them in the lurch.
This organization is your baby. Your pride in it overflows. You don’t want to see it absorbed by some faceless, monstrous entity. You hope to keep it a healthy, recognizable brand.
This goal, though, requires keeping your good employees around. Institutional knowledge is invaluable. They know how things work. Your customers and vendors are used to dealing with them. If your team stampedes for the exits – likely because they misunderstand your plans – the backfire will be loud, and painful.
And, even though you know the time is right, you’re just not sure about completely letting go. Play golf and stare at sunsets? Not really your thing. You still want to be in the game, even if in a reduced role. After all, who knows the place better than you?
You’ve heard about the traditional exit routes. Pass the company onto heirs … but what if none are involved with it?
Sell to a competitor … except who knows what they’ll do with your employees, your brand … and your reputation?
Go the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) route, which could yield a pretty penny … but remember the idea of not being swallowed up?
Have You Thought of This?
Another option exists, albeit one much less used and far more often misunderstood: Selling to an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). The ESOP solution is used in less than 15 percent of all sales of privately-held firms.
Yet, when examined more closely, an ESOP could address all your concerns about exiting your business gracefully – with your head held high, money in your pocket, and your legacy intact.
Our next series of posts will explain how ESOPs allow for a graceful exit strategy. After all your stress, struggles and just plain hard work, don’t you deserve this?
Can’t wait to learn more? No problem. Just contact Excel Legacy Group to start wrapping your arms (and mind) around this concept of gracefulness (and business exit strategy). We’re glad to talk. No need to worry about pressure, either – nor being graceful under it.