3 Tools to Help Business Owners Plan for a Happy Exit

exit planning Mar 29, 2022

In a recent blog article, I talked about how business owners often have difficulty envisioning a future without them at the helm of their companies. As entrepreneurs, our personal identities are so closely tied to what we do in and for our companies that the mere thought of transitioning out of business ownership at some point in the future can cause separation anxiety. Mix in fears–perhaps of perceived personal failure, our own mortality, or "the unknown"–and you can see why many business owners tend to avoid the topic altogether. But without careful preparation for an ownership transition, the results of a sale, if it happens at all, are bound to be disappointing.

Other than emotional issues, I believe that lack of factual knowledge and reliance on guesswork and false assumptions can also hold owners back from creating a strategic plan that could deliver the outcomes they want or need. 

Lack of knowledge tends to fall into three large categories: 

  • business market value
  • long-term financial needs; and 
  • personal readiness. 

For each of these I will recommend a free tool that business owners can use to gain greater clarity:


1. What is the value of my business? 

Few owners have much, if any, experience with business valuations until they want to sell or transfer their business. That’s no surprise because for most, parting with their business is a once-in-a-lifetime event, without prior “practice.” The stakes couldn’t be any higher. Moreover, since long-term owners have invested so much time and effort into their companies and often sacrificed much (money, family time, personal freedom), they want to be rewarded for it all “when the time comes.” And they absolutely should be! However, their assumptions of business value are often at odds with what the market is willing to pay. Unrealistic expectations can lead to missing out on a great sales opportunity.

Fortunately, there is a free tool–the Value Builder Score Assessment–that offers a pretty reliable estimate of business value, based on statistical data of 65,000 businesses. 

What’s even more valuable is that this tool measures the performance of a business across 8 areas that impact business value,  and makes recommendations as to how to raise business value over time. 

You can access The Value Builder Score Questionnaire here. It will take only about 12 minutes to complete.

2. How much money do I need to become financially independent?

For most people, the greatest asset is their home. For business owners, it tends to be their company. The business is often considered the “nest egg” for the next chapter in the owner’s life. If that’s retirement, then business value plays an especially prominent role in an owner’s long-term financial planning. 

Other than the proceeds from the sale of a business, there can be a mix of other assets and revenue streams (a home, social security payments, income from rental properties, among other investments) that play into these calculations. 

Therefore, gaining some clarity on total financial resources needed long-term is extremely important.

To get started with the financial planning process, I recommend another free tool: The Freedom Score Questionnaire. The Freedom Score Report will help you understand the assets needed to help you achieve long-term financial independence.

You can access the Freedom Score Questionnaire here.

3. Am I personally ready to part with my company?


Not knowing whether or not you’re personally ready to take the plunge can be another big factor stalling the planning process. Am I really ready? What does “ready” to sell/give up/transfer my business feel like? This is a big one because transitioning your business is a one-way street. When you initiate that process, you want to be sure it’s the right decision so that you won’t ever have to look back with regrets.

Helping you gauge your own personal readiness, The PREscore Questionnaire walks you through some important questions about how you envision your life post-sale. 

You can access the PREscore Questionnaire here.


Between the Value Builder Score Questionnaire, the Freedom Score Questionnaire, and the PREscore Questionnaire, I hope you will gain some valuable insights to start planning for the future of your business and the next chapter of your life.

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