How Business Owners Should Plan For The “Emergency” Retirement: The All-Important Exit Strategy

If you own your own business, you probably know that the business starts and ends with you. Inevitably, however, the day will come when you will no longer be at the helm. What will happen to your business when that day comes?


Retirement Ahead - Road Warning Sign


You have probably spent an enormous amount of time, energy and money building your business to the place it is today. It would seem like a foolish decision to simply lock the doors and walk away from that massive personal investment, but sadly this happens every day to businesses with no exit strategy in place.


Most business owners wouldn’t choose to lock the doors, but sometimes it comes out of necessity. There are a great many circumstances whereby a business owner would suddenly need to walk away – like the illness of a spouse or serious health issues of their own. If something comes along that will prevent you from keeping the current entrepreneurial pace you need to sustain your business, a pre-planned exit strategy will allow you to walk away with equity instead of nothing at all.


I don’t need an exit strategy, I have kids.”


We see this one more than we should. A very driven and focused entrepreneur has to move out of state to care for an ailing family member, so they hand over the reins to one of their children and expect that everything will be fine. Unless you have a child you has the same or even greater passion for your business than you do, and you have spent several years grooming that child for an eventual takeover – this situation rarely ends well. The child typically runs the business straight into the ground.


If you have kids, and they’re your only exit strategy, then you may need to reconsider. Talk with them frankly about your eventual departure and ask them if taking the reins is really something they want. If it isn’t, you could be supportive of their future endeavors by selling your business and using the proceeds to become a silent partner in a business they want to be in.


I don’t need an exit strategy, I’ll just sell when I need to.”


It takes, on average, 9 to 12 months to get a business from listing to closing. This time frame can be lengthened by having a business that is in no-where-near-ready-to-sell shape. To avoid these lengthy delays and speed up the process, you need to think about a buyer’s eyes long before you have any buyers coming through the door. What can you do to boost your numbers? Are your financial records in an organized and easy-to-understand format? Is the place in total disrepair or in serious need of a deep cleaning? If any of these questions resonate with you, now is the time to implement changes – not when an impending emergency is forcing you to sell. Talk to a business broker now, even if you don’t plan on selling in the foreseeable future, so you can know how to be ready when you need to be.


Life’s emergencies can’t be planned for, but you can plan ahead to be sure your business is appealing to buyers just in case you have a sudden need to get out. You can also ensure that the entrepreneurial legacy of your family continues, even if your children don’t want to be in the same business you are.


Are you a business owner who has no real emergency-exit strategy in place? Did many of the scenarios here resonate with you? Would you like to know more about how to get your business in ready-to-sell shape? Please feel free to leave us a comment or question!


Michael Monnot

12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907

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Michael Monnot


5111-E Ocean Blvd
Siesta Key, FL 34242

Michael Monnot


9040 Town Center Parkway
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202


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