Even if you’re not planning to retire in the next five years, you need a transition plan. Betting you’ll make it to retirement age is optimistic, but devastating if you’re wrong. Businesses need to transition for all sorts of unplanned reasons—health issues, family issues, financial crises and, worst of all, death. In the event that a business owner dies, planning ahead can keep the complexity of dealing with the transition from landing on the shoulders of their family during a time of grief. Your obligations don’t disappear when you die, they get passed on to your family. Without proper planning, your heirs will take on the burden of cleaning up the disaster of an unplanned business transition. Since they don’t know the ins and outs of the business, it will be far more difficult for them than it would have been for you.
Best Case Scenario
Planning ahead is the best thing you can possibly do when it comes to your business.
Even if you own the business for decades to come, your plans will only serve to strengthen and grow the organization, safeguard you from unexpected turns of events and make your business more attractive to buyers when you choose to sell. Selling will be always be complex, but with proper planning it will be less so.
No matter where you’re at or the state of your business, you can start now. Keep in mind that no business is perfect — what you need to focus on is a strong foundation. When Solomons Fund acquired Graphic Label, Inc., it was drawn to the business’s solid core. GLi had a consistent history of earnings and a highly diversified customer base. Solomons Fund could also see the growth path clearly — everything GLi was doing within Washington could be expanded to other states. Again, no company is perfect, but a stable business with good people and a strong foundation is a good investment. Focus on these in your own business and you’ll be in a much better position for whatever may come.
Avoiding the Worst
Without proper planning, it is still possible to avoid a shutdown when the time comes to sell, it's just more complicated and stressful. You have fewer options, but you might be able to sell your customers to your competitor, auction off your equipment and bring in as much as you can to put toward payables, bank notes and the rent you’ll continue paying until your lease is up.
Even with a very small business you’re still looking at $100,000 to shut down in an orderly fashion that will keep you out of court. This is a grim picture in light of the fact that, with planning, you could have grown, strengthened and sold your business for a profit that would have set you up well for retirement or supported the things and people you care about most.
Get started on your strategic plan.