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What is your exit strategy?
Eight steps for a smoother business transition
By: Andrew D. Burish, Managing Director and Founder at The Burish Group
As a business owner, you’ve worked hard to
build your business. But what about the day
when you might want to walk away from it
all? Business transition planning is perhaps
one of the most complex tasks a business
owner will encounter. Many owners have
a substantial portion of their family wealth
invested in the business, a complexity
that requires broader financial planning
strategies to address retirement and estate
planning needs.
If you lack a comprehensive plan to pass
on your business, now is the time to give
serious thought to a formal business
transition plan. A well-crafted transition
plan identifies a long-term strategy that
can inform short-term decisions.
Improve the value of your business
When the time comes to sell a business,
many deals collapse during the buyer’s due
diligence when problems come to light. So,
start cleaning things up before it becomes
an issue for a buyer.
As you look to improve the value of your
business, think about what factors a
prospective buyer will place the most value
on. What will drive value for a buyer in the
future? Will the business continue to operate
effectively and grow if you are no longer
at the helm? What roadblocks should be
addressed now, instead of closer to the sale?
Reducing business risk is a top priority
in a proactive transition strategy. When
your business is perceived as a solid
opportunity, it may create a competitive
buyer environment, increase value, improve
negotiation and deal terms, and minimize
the time to close the sale.

Preparing for the future sale of
your business
Here are eight action steps to help get your
business market-ready.
1. Get your business documentation
in order. Start by making sure all
your business operation and process
documentation is up to date. Formalize
and extend key customer and vendor
contracts and confirm that welldocumented processes and procedures
are in place.
2. Organize your financial statements.
Make sure your financial record keeping
and reporting are transparent and easy
to evaluate. As you think about making
your business more professional, look
for clear lines of separation between
personal and business expenses.
3. Develop formal strategic plans. Start
with your business’ core competencies.
What is your long-term vision? What is
your strategy to diversify your customer
base? How will you continue to grow
and expand?
Have a strategic plan for each key
area of your business, such as sales,
marketing, operations, technology,
finance and legal. Know how your
business is valued in your industry and
look to boost the key metrics.
4. Create business succession and
contingency plans. Prepare formal
succession plans and communicate
them to your leadership team.
Decisions around who takes over and
how can be essential to the survival of
your business.

5. See that legal records are in good
order. Are your legal contracts in
order? Are your employee procedures
and agreements solid, with a change
in control in place? Are there any
environmental, compliance or regulatory
issues that need your attention?
Is there a chance to extend lease
agreements or take a closer look at real
estate holdings? Is your intellectual
property adequately protected?
6. Secure your leadership team. Be
certain you have a leadership team that
is ready for a smooth transition when
the time comes. The next owner of your
business will look for a strong leadership
team that will stay with the business
through the transition period or longer.
7. Consider a formal board of directors
with outside members. Establish
an advisory council or a formal
board of directors. Look to include
outside members who own or have
owned successful private companies.
8. Minimize your business’s reliance on
you. Many business owners are justifiably
proud to be the leading driver of sales
and revenue. However, to truly drive a
growth strategy, you need to make the
business less reliant on you.

Andy Burish
Managing Director
The Burish Group
UBS Financial Services Inc.
8020 Excelsior Drive, Suite 400
Madison, WI 53717
608-831-4282
andrew.burish@ubs.com
ubs.com/team/burishgroup

Each business is different and preparing for a
transition is a complex process. Start thinking
about how you can maximize the value of
your business—call us today to start the
conversation.

Source: UBS Business Owner Insights Report, September 2018.
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