Am I Going the Right Way? The Maze of Exiting Your Business

Am I Going the Right Way? The Maze of Exiting Your Business


Have you ever noticed that almost all autumn activities involve wandering through produce? You spend the brisk afternoons picking crisp apples off gnarled branches and strolling through a pumpkin patch to select the perfect pumpkin for your jack-o-lanterns. 

While these activities bring fond memories with the smell of apple cider and pumpkin spiced lattes, there is one type of produce we have not yet mentioned. We are of course referring to the dreaded corn maze. Getting lost in an apple orchard or pumpkin patch is no big deal, as you can find your way out easily. But a corn maze, designed specifically to push your mental and physical strength to the limits, is a whole different venture. 

Once you get over the fun bit of trivia that corn is maize, you spend what feels like an eternity stressing about the fact that the maze is going to defeat you. You haven’t rationed your cider or pumpkin muffins for the journey and morale is starting to look low.

At this point, you might be thinking, I clicked on an article on an exit planning website and they have spent three paragraphs talking about a corn maze, how does this relate to me? We are getting there, we promise. Have we ever steered you wrong?  

Which Path Should I Take?

When you arrive at the corn maze, you have already made one decision: actually committing to a corn maze. However, that one decision is not enough to guide you successfully through the maze itself. It is only the starting point for your journey. The same can be said for exit planning. Simply deciding that you would like to exit your business does not mean that you will be able to exit swiftly without any twists and turns to impact your way forward. 

When you step foot into the corn maze you are immediately met with a fork in the metaphorical road. Are you going to take the left or the right path? Both seem like good options, but without choosing one or the other, you will be in this maze for a while. 

When planning for your eventual exit from your business, you have a variety of exit options available to you. If you wish to sell to a key employee, transition the company to an ESOP, or transfer the business to the next generation, you would choose the internal exit options path. Conversely, an external exit option would include selling to a third party, recapitalization, or IPO.  

Am I Going the Right Way?

Roughly five minutes into the maze, the anxiety hits. Are you going the right way? Was there a better path towards the exit? Where even is the exit? How can you determine the best course of action when there is seemingly no end in sight? The longer you spend in the maze with no course of action, the more defeated you feel, and the less likely you think you are to exit the maze of corn in one piece. 

Some consider exit planning as the finish line. “I want to exit my business.” However, without understanding the many steps involved in exiting your business, you can get lost in the process. 

The business itself is only one of three critical elements to creating a significant company and a fulfilling exit. Many business owners who fail to plan for their transition face personal regrets or turmoil. They realize after the fact that they left money on the table. Many are miserable post-transition as they lacked personal purpose and allowed their business to define them. Some owners will go back into the workforce because they lacked a personal financial strategy that is tied back to their company’s value and filled their Wealth Gap upon exit.

According to recent EPI State of Owner Readiness research, 48% of business owners have no formal or written personal financial plan, and 27% have not thought about what they will do after they exit their business. Imagine trying to complete a project without understanding what success looks like at the end. 

I’m Lost. Help!

Wouldn’t it be amazing to go through the corn maze with a dedicated guide? Someone who could tell you, “don’t go that way, you’ll get stuck over there.” What if you could have a birdseye view of the maze and a detailed step-by-step map of the twists and turns you come up against? The maze might not feel so daunting if you knew you would make it through, with minimal scrapes and breakdowns. 

When exiting your business, a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) acts as your guide and the Value Acceleration Methodology is your map. A CEPA will help you discover your current business value, prepare for the eventual transition of your company, and decide what exit option you would like to pursue. Not only will a CEPA help you effectively transition your business, but they will also advise you on personal and personal financial matters. Exit planning is a three-legged stool, when the business, personal, and financial goals are not aligned, the owner’s exit is out of balance. 

While you might get stuck in a corn maze or two this fall, don’t get stuck in an unsuccessful business exit. Learn more about exit planning in our 5-4-3-2-1 Whitepaper. 


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