Running a business is really hard, but there are some aspects of business success that trip up even the most adept entrepreneurs. The best business owners and managers consistently execute on sales, operations and finance but often fail to consider important things like goals, business transition and exit planning.
At my latest Vistage (a worldwide CEO organization) meeting our speaker had a compelling presentation on being a better leader. Her message was focused on self-improvement techniques that would enhance your ability to define your goals, build your team and achieve success. The one thing that stood out to me was that so many of the CEO’s in the room were working on succession, transition and exit plans, and most of these were baby boomers.
The baby boomer generation controls such a large percentage of wealth and private businesses in this country, so it should not be any surprise that this topic is becoming more important as the baby boomers are aging and reaching retirement.
When I think about our focus on building our capabilities and the conversations we have with the businesses that we support, there is a direct correlation between business technology and the focus on business exit planning. The correlation is that technology can play a critical role in the success of your business and that it is an important component to a successful business transition.
At the basic level information technology, properly implemented and fully utilized, will improve your visibility into the financials, metrics and key performance indicators that can be tracked and improved to increase the value of the business. Businesses that have invested in technology and have matured information systems are also more appealing to buyers.
I believe that every business owner should be building a business to sell it. This mindset can be a strategy for success because it focuses you on several things are important to running a high-performance business such as increasing business value, developing your staff and setting goals with a clear vision in mind. Building to sell requires a strong focus on business metrics and financial performance that can only be gleaned from the implementation of information technology systems. It also requires technology centric solutions that increase productivity, communication and business intelligence.
Even with all the technology in place there is still a key component to successful exit planning, and that is the human element of setting goals and executing on strategy. The guidance from our Vistage speaker was to work on self-improvement techniques that would sharpen your ability to motivate, communicate and focus. There are lots of books and resources out there, but the key is to find a development or peer group, or a trusted advisor that will help guide you and hold you accountable to your goals.
If you are in that large group of baby boomers looking to the next phase of their life, there is no time like now to step back and work on your business, not in it, and set goals and timelines to achieve your vision.