Business Retirement Planning: It’s a Team Effort!

You’re a family or small business founder or owner. You’re beginning to consider retiring from your business—or you’d just like to reduce the amount of time you’re spending with your business. Perhaps you’d like to travel or play more golf or spend more time with your family. Whatever your reason, if this is you, then it’s time to start putting together your succession or exit plan.

That’s Me! When Should I Start?

You can’t begin early enough because it may take two or three years or more to ensure the success of that transition to your successor. For more information on timing, please see Discover the Ideal Time to Exit Your Business, one of my earlier blog posts. In that article I discussed the Nine Elements of a Successful Transition Plan:

What Expertise is Needed?

To develop a successful transition plan, most or all of the following—and possibly more—may be required during the exit planning process. You’ll need detailed knowledge of:

  • estate planning
  • financial planning/wealth management
  • business law
  • business valuation
  • tax law
  • insurance products

In other words, you’ll need a team of experts to work with you to ensure your business retirement is the highly successful transition you’d like it to be.

Where Do I Find Such a Team?

Of course, whichever of these subject matter experts need to be added to your team depends on your current situation and the advisors with whom you already work closely. Consequently, your exit planning process will involve an initial assessment of your current situation; selecting the appropriate licensed experts in each of these fields to fill in the gaps; bringing them together as a coordinated team of collaborators focused on your needs, goals, and desires; and then guiding their activities to provide you with the best possible transition plan.

Let’s look at each of these four stages in more detail.

  • Initial assessment of your current situation: Identifying your needs, goals, and desires is the first step in successfully planning your transition. This will determine the expertise you will need for that planning. You will most likely already be working with an estate planner, for example, or an investment advisor, so the next step is to identify the expertise you will want to add to your team.
  • Selecting the appropriate licensed experts: Since you may already be working with one or more of these experts, the selection process becomes one of filling the missing components. You will want to select experts who are open to collaboration and working in a team environment.
  • Bringing them together as a coordinated team of collaborators: You will want your team to be supportive of and completely focused on your needs, goals, and desires. You will want them to work closely together to accomplish what is most important to you in your transition.
  • Guiding their activities to provide you with the best possible transition plan: While you will have selected advisors who are collaborative and play well on a team, they will still need guidance and oversight to ensure your business succession plan is complete and results in the transition you truly desire for yourself and your family.

Can I Do This Myself?

The short answer is, “Yes, you can do this yourself.” But you may still want to consider engaging professional support to do so. Assembling your team of experts and focusing them on your needs, goals, and desires can be a daunting task. Guiding the result to a comprehensive exit plan and then implementing it makes the task even more demanding. This is the work of an exit planning coach.

The benefits of an exit planning coach are:

  • An exit planning coach can help you clarify and articulate your readiness—both financial and emotional—for retirement from your business.
  • Your coach is not emotionally involved in the outcome and can, therefore, guide you objectively in understanding and making the oftentimes hard decisions that family business transitions require.
  • Because of their objectivity and broad business experience, a coach can help you see alternatives and options that may not have occurred to you.
  • You will be working with someone who has the experience to lead teams of professionals to accomplish specific goals.
  • You may not have the time or experience to lead such a diverse team to meet your retirement timeline.
  • And, perhaps most importantly, your coach can assist you in discussing your retirement and the resulting succession plan with your family—conversations that may be very difficult to navigate to everyone’s satisfaction.

Whether you decide to undertake the planning of your retirement from your business yourself, or you elect to engage a business exit planning coach, it is critical that you start early. Most succession plans fail because of a lack of adequate planning or no planning at all.

Congratulations! You are considering retirement with sufficient time to successfully transition to your successor the business legacy you have worked so hard for. Now, assemble and engage the support team you really need!

Published in AAC, Professional