Uncovering The Yellow Brick Road 

Fri, 10/15/2021 - 08:00


In the classic movie, Wizard of Oz, Dorothy finds herself in unfamiliar territory wanting nothing more than to return home to Kansas. Glinda, the Good Witch, guides Dorothy and helps her avoid the villain (the Wicked Witch of the West) and reach her destination, the Emerald City. Dorothy is given three simple steps to follow to get home: 

  1. Follow the yellow brick road 
  2. Go to the Emerald City 
  3. See the Wizard of Oz 

In the end, Dorothy follows the steps she is given, faces unexpected adversity along the way, and ultimately discovers that she had the power to go home within her the entire time. Dorothy was her own hero. 

When you are working with clients, the same concepts apply. You must first decipher their end goal and then give them simple steps with how to work with you. What is their “yellow brick road” that will lead them to where they want to be?  

Which Path to Choose 

There are often many paths a business owner can take to achieve any number of their goals. As we mentioned in our last blog, asking the right questions is critical to determining which path to take. At surface level, the path might seem straightforward. It’s only after you ask the questions that you uncover underlying issues an owner might not feel comfortable admitting at first. Unless you are aware of what obstacles an owner is facing and what their goals are, you could be guiding them down the wrong path.  

Sign up for our FREE Exit Planning Toolkit to get a list of questions to ask your prospects and clients at this stage of the planning process.

Be sure to identify what is most important to your client so you can recommend the right exit path. Maybe they have strong family values and would like to have their children take over the business one day. Maybe your client wants to ensure that their employees receive ownership stock so an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) might be a path to investigate. Not every yellow brick road is right for each owner.  

What Is The Process? 

This is the time to start evaluating your client’s gap. Where are they today and where do they want to be when they are ready to exit their business? Once you have collected as much information as you can from your client about their business and their goals, you can start laying the bricks for their path. Prioritize what steps of the process need to be completed first. What is most important to your hero? What keeps them up at night? Solve these issues first so your owner can have more time to focus on the remaining steps.  

While putting together the recommendations for your client, also think about the “what if” scenarios. Along Dorothy’s journey, for example, she runs into some unexpected hurdles. She was taken by the wicked witch, she was attacked by some terrifying flying monkeys, and her original plan to return to Kansas didn’t work as planned because she missed the hot air balloon. Turns out with some help from her guide, she was able to overcome these challenges and reach her goals anyway. She had the strength, determination, and problems solving skills the entire time, and didn’t even realize it! Her guide just gave her an alternative way to get there. Have a continuity plan in place for those unexpected scenarios.  

Similar to planning an exit path, Dorothy also meets a lot of companions along her journey. Each member of her team also benefits from helping Dorothy reach her goals. The Tin Man needs a heart, the Cowardly Lion needs courage, and the Scarecrow needs a brain. In every Exit Plan, you will need the help of many other advisors that are all trying to help your client achieve their goals. Be sure you have the right team in place that has the same goal in mind.  

Have An Agreement 

Now that you have established your team, be clear on exactly what each step of the journey entails. Who is involved, what are the deliverables, and what are the deadlines? Where are you laying each brick in the road and where are you trying to go? It is your responsibility to ensure each member of the team understands and commits to the plan. As the guide, you are committing to helping this advisor team through each step of the process to achieve their goals. The entire team is trusting that when something goes wrong, you will have a backup plan already laid out.  

Your client and the team of advisors must agree to stick to the deadlines or risk not getting to the Emerald City and seeing their dreams come to fruition. Clearly communicate the steps of the process, the expectations you have of them, and the expectations they should have of you. Repeat the priorities to them often. When you have an agreement on the priorities, you won’t lose sight of the goal.  

There’s no place like seeing your clients realize their goals are achieved, and the satisfaction you get from being a part of that process means you reach your goals too. Tune in next week to discuss the final steps in the hero’s journey! 


  • Uncover as much information you can to create the right plan. The more information you have the clearer the path will be.  
  • It is critical to have a clear path laid out with specific deliverables, deadlines, which team members are involved in each step, etc. 
  • Be sure to always have a contingency plan in place for when unexpected scenarios arise.  
  • Get the right team on board that all share the same goal.  
  • Have an agreement in writing of the clear path and what each team member is committed to completing. 

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