Entering, growing, expanding, acquiring – these are client objectives we deal with every day. How can I be bigger? How can I sell more product? But every now and again a client throws us a wobbly one – how do I get out?
Exit strategies are often a low priority for business owners. It’s one of those ‘deal with it when we come to it’ items. But, whether it’s a personal exit strategy (i.e. retirement) or a complete business exit strategy (i.e. selling), it shouldn’t be left to the last minute. In fact, before you even register your business name you should be considering your long term involvement and objectives. It doesn’t have to be depressing, negative or inflexible. It’s just smart thinking.
As well as simply thinking about an exit strategy, planning for one is doubly important. By that I mean from day one, examining things from this perspective: how can this add value to my business? A strong brand and reputation are the obvious and common ‘value’ indicators. However, how do you prove things like ‘strong brand value’ or ‘reputation’?
One vital step is to register your IP (Intellecutal Property). By IP that doesn’t just have to be your brand. You can register slogans, colours, sounds, or simple elements of your brand. You can also register sub-brands or product names as trademarks. But, remember your IP needs to be used on a regular basis for it to remain enforceable. That is why it is also important to have records of advertising, marketing campaigns, print outs of editorial or PR coverage and anything else that prove your IP is in use.
As I mentioned in a previous blog it is also important to actually have access to your logo; not just a jpeg, but all the correct graphic files in a variety of industry standard formats.
A website is also another strong value indicator. If you have a website that is professionally developed, constructed, enhanced and promoted, it communicates the same message to a potential buyer, investor, or franchisee as it would to a customer. A website with history also makes a difference, so it’s important that things such as website statistics and reports are kept
Your customer or client database is also another area of value, that is why it is so important to a) have one b) document it c) use it and d) grow it!
There is also value in your business planning, operations planning and marketing planning. Professionally prepared and presented documentation is extremely important in communicating the value of your business – just ask any bank or investor.
As I mentioned above, keeping records of your advertising, campaigns, PR coverage etc. is also important in illustrating the strength of your brand. Records are annoying and often get forgotten, but when it comes to selling, retiring, franchising or whatever it might be, you’ll kick yourself for being so lazy all those years ago.
Even if you want to leave your exit options open, don’t limit the future potential of your business with ‘now’ thinking. Considering the future now could be the difference between taking your grandkids on a Sunday drive with the top down in your Aston Martin, or stuffing them into the back of a