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You probably got into a business with no thought of ever leaving.  Then after ten, fifteen ,or twenty years the thought pops into your head, “When do I know its time to leave?”

Most people I know do nothing the first time this thought pops into their head.  You might be different, but I bet it took ten, twenty, or more times before you thought it was a good idea to answer the question.

Over the years I’ve seen 5 different issues that trigger serious thought about when its time to leave.  If any of these issues ring true for you, then you might want to get serious about what it will take for you to leave your business.

Your industry falls apart.  This is what my trigger was when I left the vending business.  I realized that most vending companies didn’t cover their cost of capital.  The straw that broke the back with me was the realization that the only way for me to stay in the industry was to cheat on rebates paid to customers.  My choice was to not cheat and I ended up getting lucky.  I was able to sell my business for a reasonable price.

Your health falls apart.  You might find your health is deteriorating.  If you find yourself in this situation, it’s time for you to look for a way to exit your business.  You also might have a disabling health issue such as a heart attack or cancer.  If this happens, you’ll be lucky to get full value for your business.

You find something you would rather do.  If you’ve been running a business for twenty years or more you might be getting bored.  You might find yourself asking, “Is there something else I would rather be doing?”  If this is you, it’s time for you to take a serious look at moving on to do the something else.  Before doing so, make sure you’re figured out what that something else is.

You believe it’s time to retire.  This is more age based than you would rather do something else.  You’ve reached 65, 70 years old or older.  You know this is what we consider the normal time for people to retire.  You decide that you’ve had enough and it’s time to move on.

You believe it’s time to diversify your investments.  Most business owners I know have all of their eggs in one basket.  This might be you and you know you need to watch that basket very closely.  You might have decided that being diversified in your investments isn’t a bad idea.  If you’re in this position and your business is worth a fair amount of money, leaving your business might be an easy decision to make.

In all instances make sure your business is always in a sale ready position.

Some of the reasons allow you to time to plan.  Some of them might require you to act quickly.  If your business is in shape to be sold, it doesn’t matter.  You’ve taken action that makes it easy for you to leave.

The unfortunate fact is most of us aren’t ready to leave our business.  We’ve not done any planning or even thinking about what it takes for us to get out of their business.  Those who don’t at least think about leaving their business in a serious way put themselves at risk. 

Make sure you’re not one of those people.  Think about how you’re going to leave your business.  Ask yourself have you done what’s necessary so that if you need to you can leave your business quickly and not have it be a devastating activity for you on either a personal or financial basis.

We’ve put together a special report on the 7 Steps of Leaving Your Business in Style.  You’ll learn what you need to do if you want to have your business ready to transfer to someone else.  If you would like to get a copy of this report, click on the button below.

Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated.

This article is published for residents of the United States only.  Registered Representatives and Investment Adviser Representatives of NFP Securities, Inc. may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered.  Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed.  Not all of the products and services referenced on this site are available in every state and through every representative or advisor listed.

Topics: for business owners, value creation, business exit planning

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