It is time for a new direction. This marks my 400th posting to this site. I’ve enjoyed writing weekly about the daily issues and opportunities of business owners for almost ten years, but it is time for a change.
Awake at 2 o’clock has a new look and new navigation, although we decided to keep the title, logo and banner. More about that in a bit. First the why behind the change.
Regular readers may have noticed that, over the last year, I have been turning more frequently to exit planning subjects. That reflects my own career progress.
Before 2007 I sold businesses as a certified business broker, and helped numerous owners through transition as an executive coach. That year I wrote my first exit-related article (titled “Boomer Bust?”) for the business journal.
My research for that piece convinced me that there was a seismic event on the way in the retirement of the Boomers. I also learned why they were the most entrepreneurial and competitive generation in history. I hadn’t yet heard the term “exit planning”, but I was already thinking about the advisory help I knew would be needed.
I certified as an Exit Planner (CExP) in 2011, and gave up my Business Brokerage practice in the same year. In 2012 I published a new edition of my first book 11 Things You Absolutely Need to Know about Selling Your Business, and began speaking about “Beating the Boomer Bust” to audiences nationally.
In 2013 I published the award-winning book, Hunting in a Farmer’s World, which looks at the psyche of business owners, including their challenges when leaving their businesses.
I also developed an online product, The ExitMap®, to help owners and their advisors begin conversations about exit planning. It is based on my coaching experience with hundreds of owners and fills a gap left by the more technical/financial assessments that currently dominate the market. We’ve built a national network of professionals, experts in multiple disciplines, who are committed to exiting owners’ need for skilled and experienced help.
Finally, in 2016 I chose not to renew my 20-year franchise with The Alternative Board® in order to concentrate on helping owners leave their businesses. In the last decade I’ve progressed from not fully understanding the term “exit planning” to practicing it full time.
This year I will publish my new book, Your Exit Map: Navigating the Boomer Bust, which is accompanied by an online library of resources for business owners at www.yourexitmap.com . It has turned into more than a consulting skill. The millions of transitioning Boomers who need assistance have become my calling.
People ask me all the time, “Why is your blog called Awake at 2 o’clock?” Most business owners understand the reference to those nights when you can’t sleep because you are thinking about the business. It seems appropriate to keep the title when considering the biggest single financial transaction in most owners’ careers; the sale of their businesses.
We have a new tag line: Plan…Build…Exit…Enjoy. It describes both the path to a successful transition as well as the four topic areas we will discuss in this space.
Exit Strategies. These articles will focus on the big picture. What do you need to know in order to prepare well and successfully implement a lucrative transfer of the business? What do the acquisition markets look like? How do current events impact your time frame or financial objectives?
Improving Value. Enhancing the value of your business takes on new importance when you are looking at cashing out. How do you secure employees and customers? How do systems and processes affect your sale price? What specific areas of improvement will make your business more attractive?
Exit Options. Should you be targeting a specific segment of the buyer market? How can that be accomplished? What technical issues will you face with taxation, negotiation and contract structure? The specific and unique challenges of Family, Employee and Third-Party sales.
Life After the Business. The purpose of exit planning is to…EXIT! In collecting reader recommendations for my latest book, the most frequently submitted suggestion was to include discussions of the ways people enjoy their post-ownership lives (or don’t.) We’ll collect real-life stories and share them.
I plan to mix up my approach a little more. Instead of merely relating my observations and experience about ownership, I will invite guest bloggers, review new books on exiting, and interview entrepreneurs about their own experiences. If it will help business owners who are planning the next stage of life, it belongs here.
I will post when I have something worthwhile to share. Since the subject matter is more focused, I will no longer have the flexibility to post every week on whatever topic appeals to me. A little discipline never hurt.
Finally, in a world where content is paramount, we aren’t discarding the 200,000 or so words already cached on this site. You can still search by topic for any past posts.
I know that some subscribers are not planning their exits right now, but I encourage you to stick around. Sooner or later every owner leaves his or her business. Expanding your knowledge about the process now will prove handy down the road. Your exit planning objectives should be influencing how you run your company today.
I am very excited about this new direction and plan to continue writing with the same passion and enjoyment that has fueled this column since 2008. As always, thank you for reading!
John F. Dini, CMBA, CExP