Eliminating Arguments that it’s Too Early To Plan a Business Exit

Fri, 01/20/2023 - 08:00

Written by: mernzen

Professional advisors know all too well that their business owner clients have a lot on their plates. 

From managing employees to overseeing finances, there never seems to be enough time in their days. When it comes to Exit Planning, it’s easy for them to put it off, thinking they can deal with it later. Business advisors are faced with the familiar response: “I’m not ready to begin planning for my exit. I have other business tasks that take priority.” 

However, as the Exit Planning Advisor, you must insist that Exit Planning is essential and should not be delayed. 

The 2022 BEI Business Owner Survey reported that 35% of responding owners believe they don’t need to plan for their exit yet, with an additional 13% arguing they don’t have enough time, money, or energy to deal with Exit Planning. 

So, what can you do to help your clients overcome this argument? 

The 2022 BEI Business Owner Survey revealed a significant shift in the age of business owners who are considering Exit Planning, with 77% of respondents falling between the ages of 25-54. This highlights the opportunity for a larger market for Exit Planning beyond the baby boomer generation. Business owners are now thinking about their exits at an earlier age, providing a sizeable opportunity to conduct planning work:

“With the age of business owners shifting younger and the anticipated years of ownership getting longer, this presents a larger opportunity for advisors to do Exit Planning with their clients.”   -2022 BEI Business Owner Survey 

Download the 2022 BEI Business Owner Survey

If owners are thinking about their exits earlier in their ownership lifecycle, advisors must consider what steps they are actually taking to plan for their eventual transition. 

Discover ways to bridge the gap and eliminate the argument that younger owners have that it’s too early to plan with these four tips: 

#1: Planning Should Begin While Business is Good 

For younger business owners who may not be considering retirement or transition for another 10+ years, the urgency to commit to an Exit Plan may not seem pressing. However, creating a plan is crucial for the continued success of the business.

However, business projections and the life of the owner do not always go as planned. Exit Planning is vital for the continued success of a business. “A divorce, death, illness, disability, or split from a business partner can cause undue duress on a business and damage from which it may never recover,” Teri Parker said in a recent article on succession planning. “Planning allows for the orderly transition when the owner(s) are ready to sell – or are forced to sell because of an unforeseen event.” 

Exit Planning should actually begin in the midst of the business running smoothly. If the planning begins as a result of a crisis, the outcome may actually be more detrimental than anything. By starting small, such as crafting business continuity instructions or a Buy-Sell Agreement, business owners may begin to see the importance of planning early.

#2: Exit Plans are Meant to Evolve 

Exit Planning is not a one-time task, but rather a continuous process that should be revisited often. As the business grows and changes over time, the Exit Plan should also be adjusted to reflect these changes.

Creating actionable steps to include reasonable timelines and deadlines over a period of time ensures owners might reach the ultimate exit goal: leaving their business on their terms.

Coming up with a comprehensive, written Exit Plan often scares owners because of the misconception that the document can’t be changed. Though there is an increase of young business owners talking to professional advisors about planning, creating the written document remains at only 20%. 

In addition to the flexibility of an Exit Plan, it’s your job to inform the business owner of the key elements of a written Exit Plan, as well as the main benefits of getting the document in writing: 

  1. Increased clarity, accountability, and opportunity for success 
  2. Maintaining control as the business grows and changes 
  3. Minimizing cost and time as business value grows 

#3: More Time Increases the Likelihood to Exceed Exit Goals & Build Value 

As an advisor, you are likely aware that many business owners opt for a phase-based approach to planning. With this in mind, it must be emphasized that each phase requires a dedicated amount of time, and in the long-term, more is gained when there is more time allotted to grow business value. 

Consider sharing with your owner clients the standard timeframe of each of the common phases of the Exit Planning process: 

  • Exit Plan Design & Choosing an Exit Path:  90 days - 1 year 
  • Closing the Value Gap, or, the difference between the actual value of the company and what the owner needs to exit: 5 - 10 years 
  • Tax planning & implementation: 3 - 10 years 
  • Transfer to children or employees: 3 - 10 years 
  • Selling the business to a third-party: At least one year 

Every owner’s exit time frame is contingent on both the owner’s goals and the business’ readiness for transition. Today, few businesses are sufficiently prepared to transfer without a significant amount of time spent with an Exit Planning Advisor to build transferable business value, minimize taxes, and achieve the goals set when the owners first began the business.  

The amount of time doesn't have to be posed as a “big and scary number,” but instead, positioned as a major benefit in terms of having the time to grow transferable business value. 

#4: Take a Holistic Approach to Planning

Many business owners start their own companies as a means to make the most of their own time. In a lot of ways, doesn’t it seem that they end up having less? Fundamentally, Exit Planning is a learned concept for most owners. When owners are more caught up in the logistics and the dynamics of business, they may not be able to grasp the necessity to plan and begin early. 

Exit Planning is not just about finances, it's also about the overall well-being of the business, the owner, and their family. Advisors should consider the emotional and psychological aspect of Exit Planning and help business owners navigate the transition process. After all, the business exit is the most important financial event of their professional lives. 

Working backwards with owners to determine a business exit strategy and a timeline will ultimately earn owners the freedom they desire: the freedom to sell or transfer their business when they want, for the amount they want, and for the successor of their choice. 

The Bottom Line: 

The idea that it is too early to plan is just simply not true.

In the words of Shellye Archambeau, one of tech’s first Black female CEOs, Board Director, and Author: “Start today. Work hard, make trade-offs, and strategize towards your goals. You can start these practices at any time in your life or you can restart them if you have let them go over the years. It’s never too late or too early to start working toward a goal.” 

BEI is dedicated to assisting advisors in their mission to help business owner clients reach their goals. Schedule a meeting with us at the link below and we can discuss strategies to kick start conversations with clients and urge them to begin Exit Planning sooner rather than later. 


 

Schedule a Meeting

Eliminating the Argument that its Too Early to Plan a Business Exit

For Those Who Want It All When Selling Their Company

For some business owners, their only goals when selling their company are to maximize the sales price and cash at close, and then “go to the beach.”  

However, many business owners are interested in more: They want it all!  

They want to maximize price, preserve the legacy their company represents, protect and reward the employees who have helped them build the company, and minimize taxes for themselves and the company. 

Exploring Exit Planning Trends from the 2022 Business Owner Survey

Fri, 01/06/2023 - 08:00

Written by: mernzen

BEI is the leading innovator in the Exit Planning industry, offering comprehensive Exit Planning training, marketing support, and plan creation tools to advisors across the globe. Members of the BEI advisor community have access to an established, systemized process that allows them to easily help their clients with their business transition planning. 

In order for professional advisors to attract and maintain high-caliber clients for Exit Planning work, it is crucial for them to understand the state of the market and the features of their target audience. As advisors seek to help business owners and their families benefit from their lives’ work, they must have an accurate and realistic idea of their client’s goals, aspirations, hesitations, and influences. 

All this and more was the intention of conducting the 2022 BEI Business Owner Survey, and in the following paragraphs we’ll share some key findings. 

 

Register for the upcoming webinar, January 18, where BEI Founder John Brown and BEI CEO Jared Johnson, will share their take in the survey! 

 

Register for the Business Owner Survey Review Webinar

Audience 

BEI worked with a national independent research firm in July 2022 to collect data that are statistically valid and representative of a range of business sizes and geographic regions. We received ownership-verified responses from over 200 business owners with revenue over $2.5 million and more than 10 employees throughout the US and Canada, resulting in a confidence index of 98%. 

These business owners are proportionately distributed across geographic areas, industries, and age groups that make up the larger business owner population. 

In previous BEI surveys (2016, 2019), business owners in the baby boomer generation responded more than any other age group, making up 76% of respondents in 2019. However, in our current survey, 77% of respondents fell between the ages of 25 - 54. 
 

Intention 

Due to the shift in the respondent’s age, a key question was raised: What are these younger owners doing to plan for the future of their ownership? 

In addition to the above question, this survey intends to highlight the vast opportunity that exists for advisors to get involved in Exit Planning. 

  • 53% of business owners want to sell or transfer their ownership within the next 10 years. 
  • 80% of business owners want to stop working in their businesses in the next 10 years. 
  • Only 20% of owners have created written plans to transfer ownership. 
  • 100% of business owners will one day leave their company, whether planned or otherwise. 

With the age of ownership shifting younger and the anticipated years of ownership getting longer, there is a greater opportunity than ever before for advisors to do Exit Planning with their clients earlier in a client’s ownership lifecycle.  

Insights 

While the opportunities highlighted above are key insights, the report also shares data on desired Exit Paths, what obstacles are most challenging to owners, business valuation methods, as well as how much planning owners have done and with whom. 

The survey shared that similarly to past surveys, third-party sales are the most popular consideration for a desired Exit Path. However, other paths emerged as major considerations, which indicates that it may be up to advisors to show owners the variety of options available to them. 

Additionally, a review of perceived obstacles showed a large increase in external factors including the economy and tax challenges, as well as a significant increase from 2019 of owners who believe it is too early to plan. 

Lastly, in studying the data collected on estimated business value and how owners arrived at the valuation presented an opportunity for advisors to help owners better understand business  value.

Read the Full Report 

Owners are having more conversations with advisors from all professions and other people of significance in their lives compared to previous years. 

With that said, are you prepared to be the advisor to guide your clients to exit on their terms? 

Download the full report at the link below.


 

Download the 2022 BEI Business Owner Survey

Business Owner Survey

Inside the Exit: Best Blogs of 2022

Fri, 12/30/2022 - 08:00

Written by: mernzen

As we prepare for the year ahead, it is always wise to take a moment to look back and reflect. New content is posted each week on the Inside the Exit blog. Today, we share the top five articles of the year filled with a variety of in-depth topics and advice for Exit Planning Advisors.  

  1. Looking Back at the 2022 BEI National Conference

The 2022 BEI National Exit Planning Conference welcomed nearly 150 professionals from around the globe to the Four Seasons Hotel in Denver, CO this past August. Attendees represented a variety of industries, learning from experts in business and financial planning, leadership, and marketing through sessions, workshops, and networking opportunities. 

Attendees came from around the globe, and in the spirit of the event theme, Growth Through Engagement, attendees left inspired to take their Exit Planning work to the next level. Read more in the recap blog to learn about the various sponsors and speakers, some of the most popular sessions, see a few photos, and more. 

 

Register for the 2023 Conference, set for August 7 - 9, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.  

Register for the 2023 BEI National Conference

 

  1. Evaluating ESOPs as an Exit Path 

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) continue to be a topic of interest among the Exit Planning community due to their complex nature. This blog serves as a general outline of the appeal of this path, process, pros and cons to give Exit Planning Advisors a baseline understanding of this unique exit path. 

While not an extensive list, this blog shares key points that advisors should be able to articulate to their clients who may be considering an ESOP transition. Read more.

 

3.Why a Buy-Sell Agreement Isn’t Everything 

It’s no surprise that discussions about Buy-Sell Agreements persist amongst the BEI Network as it is a crucial aspect of the comprehensive Exit Plan. There can be some nuanced opinions about this document however. 

To the business owner, this agreement often checks “solve business continuity problems” off the to-do list. Alternatively, Exit Planning Advisors know that oftentimes these agreements create more problems than they solve. A typical Buy-Sell Agreement has gaps that need to be addressed at any given time, which is why it is important that they are not seen as the “quick fix” to business continuity. 

Read more on this blog to discover the three key factors that make up an effective Buy-Sell Agreement through the eyes of Exit Planners. 

 

4. Identifying Drivers of Transferable Business Value 

The most significant factor that impacts a business owner’s ability to leave their company - successfully or not - is creating a company with transferable business value. We like to pose the question: What really drives value in business, and how do you identify the key value drivers of a business?

This blog explores how to define transferable business value, considerations to be made by the owner and potential buyer, and the nine key drivers necessary to improve value over time. 

 

5. 6 Strategies to Get Business Owners to Act 

When an Exit Planning Advisor meets with a prospective client, it’s common to be met with hesitations from owners who don’t understand the importance of Exit Planning. Some note time and financial constraints, while others simply don’t know where to start. 

Regardless of an advisor’s background or industry expertise, it can be tricky to move past these doubts and secure the Exit Planning client. We’ve gathered insights from BEI Members through the years to compile the top six strategies that have helped them get hired for Exit Planning projects. Read more on the blog to see what they are! 
 

Honorable Mentions

While the following articles did not break the top 5, they still piqued the interest of our advisor community and sparked questions related to the changing role of the Exit Planning Advisor.
 


As loyal readers of Inside the Exit, we value your feedback and hope you’ll provide us feedback on what you’d like to see in 2023. To submit a topic suggestion or to schedule a meeting with a member of the BEI team, follow the link below.

Let’s connect!


 

Inside the Exit: Best Blogs of 2022

Practice Differentiation: Recognized Expertise

Fri, 12/16/2022 - 08:00

Written by: mernzen

In the struggle to grow your practice, a vital key to success is differentiating it from competing advisors in a way that appeals to your ideal client because they understand how it benefits them.

As advisors to business owners, there is a lot of competition. There are approximately 1.3 million attorneys, 750,000 financial advisors and key staff, and over 600,000 CPAs in the U.S.

As we discussed in a prior post, being licensed in one of these professions and promising outstanding service are not practice differentiators. Your clients and potential clients all expect a high level of service. Timely, reasonably priced representation is not a differentiator; your competitors, whether accurately or not, can all claim the same. 

From a wealth of research and our practical experience, we know that owners look for two factors when hiring professional advisors: 

1.     Expertise: Owners hire advisors who are experts in a specialty or service that is valuable to them. Expertise in Exit Planning requires knowledge, training, and experience.

2.     Recognition: Owners and the advisors who represent them are aware of your specialized skills and experience.

 

What’s special about a specialty? 

In this context, “specialty” means more than being just a lawyer, CPA, or financial advisor. It means having an area of expertise within a profession—especially if that expertise is not common. 

For example, being an estate planning attorney is a specialty, but there are over 200,000 estate planning attorneys in the U.S. How many are experts? Perhaps tens of thousands are highly experienced experts. Of these, how many are well-known in their communities—even nationally—as experts whose practices are focused on solving the needs and concerns of their (usually affluent) target clients?

The clients BEI Members target are successful business owners who seek to grow and successfully exit their companies. Members have differentiated their practices by becoming experts through our Exit Planning programs and by gaining recognition in their communities as experts using BEI’s tools designed for that purpose. 

Perhaps the most effective practice differentiator is being a recognized expert in providing a service or product (a specialty), such as Exit Planning, that is vital to the well-being of owners and their companies. Being a recognized expert in your specialty is a very powerful competitive advantage. And not just for you, but for your entire firm.

 

How do you differentiate your practice via Exit Planning?

Becoming a true expert in Exit Planning is the first step to differentiating your practice. We offer support and training in the Exit Planning process and in using the tools needed to attract, engage, design, and implement Exit Plans for successful owners. We can help you take this first step.

The second step is equally important: Being recognized for your expertise in your target market, i.e., your ideal clients and the professionals in your community who work with them.

The marketing and educational tools our Members use to create awareness among the owner and advisor community of their Exit Planning expertise include:

  • Collaboration, Networking, & Social Media 

As you work with business owners on their Exit Plans, you’ll likely need to recruit several advisors for your Advisor Team. Being able to share with other advisors the importance of Exit Planning and the dependence on their role on the team can establish credibility. Building the team and collaborating together for the benefit of the same understood goals of the business owner assures your colleagues, and your clients, that your expertise is unmatched. 

Networking with other professionals also opens the door to referrals and continued relationships with other recognized experts. Another way to leverage a network is to really have a presence on social media. Whether it’s sharing links to articles and newsletters (mentioned below), reposting articles on specific topics, or connecting with other professionals, social media is a great way to establish recognition in today’s modern business landscape. 

  • Branded Marketing Materials 

Creating and sharing content to educate your clients and prospects is one way to position yourself as a thought leader on the topic of Exit Planning. BEI provides templates for various types of marketing activities such as presentations, scripts, printed materials and more that can all be customized to establish further credibility. 

  • Automated Newsletter 

Taking branded content one step further, many BEI Members take advantage of the automated newsletter system. This quick-read, twice-monthly newsletter shares information about a particular aspect of Exit Planning with your distribution list. This tool has proven to be one of the best-proven ways to stay in front of your clients without inundating them with too much information. 

 

The Bottom Line 

It’s worth repeating that the best way to differentiate your practice is to become a recognized expert. The best way to attract and engage successful owners is to become a recognized expert in helping owners exit their businesses on their terms. After all, planning for their eventual exit is one of the most important decisions of their personal and professional life. 

 

To learn more about what decisions and factors are impacting how owners are planning for their futures, download a copy of the BEI 2022 Business Owner Survey! 


 

Download the 2022 BEI Business Owner Survey

Recognized Expertise

Business Owner Survey: Takeaways & Trends to Bring to Planning in 2023

As advisors to business owners, there are a lot of things you must keep track of when it comes to the modern-day business landscape. Upon release of the BEI 2022 Business Owner Survey, the data raised some important questions about what has greatly impacted the Exit Planning industry and what younger owners are doing to plan for their futures.  

Practice Differentiation: Solve a Specific Business Challenge

Fri, 12/02/2022 - 08:00

Written by: mernzen

A basic tenet of business owner engagements is: When we fail to define a business challenge owners have, we fail to identify a need for our services and give owners no good reason to need to hire us. 

The business challenge that we describe must be both 

1.  Apparent to owners

2.  Difficult to solve without the specialized skills and experience you (actually or potentially) have.

When these two conditions are met, you differentiate yourself and your practice from other advisors and provide owners the reason to hire you. 

What’s In It For Owners?

Most advisors who provide services to business owners offer advice and products common to their profession: financial and insurance advisors provide financial plans, personal insurance, and buy-sell agreement funding. Attorneys draft buy-sell agreements while CPAs prepare financial statements and business tax returns. 

There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s also nothing special about that. Possibly price, but more typically nothing differentiates these advisors from one another. Generic representation addresses owners’ business and personal financial challenges, but not most owners’ greatest challenge: leaving their businesses on their terms.

It is your ability to address this specific business challenge that can separate you—differentiate you—from the pack. Your ability to help owners create and execute a plan to exit their companies successfully (a/k/a Exit Planning) gives them a reason to retain you. 

Let’s look at the elements of this significant and unmet business challenge.

Elements of Exit Planning 

The Exit Planning umbrella covers a multitude of business owner challenges such as:

·   Accurately assessing an owner’s resource gap, if any,

·   Growing business value and revenue,

·   Keeping and motivating key employees,

·   Transferring ownership tax efficiently,

·   Providing for business continuity and ultimately,

·   Attaining financial security through a designed ownership transfer.

 Addressing the biggest challenges in a time- and cost-efficient manner requires training in Exit Plan design and in the tools used to execute an Exit Plan. BEI provides the training and the tools you will need.

Importantly, addressing these challenges also provides you new opportunities to employ the tools and products of your profession. A final step in addressing owners’ challenges is making them aware of your ability to help

BEI provides its licensed members with an extensive collection of brandable educational and marketing materials and tools that do exactly that. A few examples of those tools & materials are named below. 

Communication Tools

In a previous post, we mentioned the importance of spreading the word about Exit Planning and your services as it relates to it. Many advisors utilize the newsletter as a way to keep in touch with clients and prospects on a frequent basis. In addition, it can serve as a means to start or follow up a specific conversation by using archived articles about that topic to provide more background and context.  

Another way to educate and inform owners about the importance of planning is to provide them with the education they are lacking in the form of videos, webinars, presentations, etc. to address common challenges. For example, a common challenge is growing business value. In doing a webinar or presentation about that particular topic, an owner might more easily recognize that they have overestimated the value of their company and need adequate time to plan for their exit. 

Brandable Content

In addition to the above ways to spread the word about your services, using brandable content also expands your reach and promotes thought leadership. 

BEI licensed members are able to put their own spin on pre-created content that they can share with clients. For example, we have a large variety of White Papers on topics such as business continuity planning, improving cash flow, employee incentive planning, business acquisition tips and much more. Branding these White Papers with your logo and contact information could help pique the interest of a client. 

Another effective way to leverage brand awareness is to do the same personalization with BEI assessments. Having the links to assessments on your website or being able to send your clients or prospects a link allows you to take the results and use them to address an owner’s challenges in your next conversation with them. 

What’s in it for you as the advisor?

Providing a solution to your client’s problems gives you the ability to help owners tackle what is likely the most significant challenge of their business careers—leaving their companies with the money they want, at the time and in the hands of a successor they choose. This alone gives them the reason they need to hire you as well as sets you apart from other advisors in your community. 

The market for Exit Planning is vast and according to statistics from our latest 2022 Business Owner Survey, owners are considering their plans for their future earlier in their ownership lifecycle than ever before. Download the full survey at the link below, and stay tuned for next week’s blog that continues the series on practice differentiation.

Download the 2022 BEI Business Owner Survey

Solving a Business Owner Challenge

Knocking Down Common Exit Planning Roadblocks

Fri, 11/18/2022 - 08:00

Written by: mernzen

As the leading innovators in the Exit Planning space, the BEI team talks daily to hundreds of advisors across the globe about their experiences with Exit Planning. More specifically, we talk to professionals in a variety of disciplines who are on the fence: sharing their aversions and hesitations about adding Exit Planning to their existing offerings. 

In digging deeper and monitoring these uncertainties about Exit Planning work, there are common responses that are typically along the lines of one of the following: 

  1. “I can’t seem to get clients engaged or interested.” 
  2. “I don’t have the bandwidth to do this myself or the staff available to assist with it.” 
  3. “I don’t have much Exit Planning knowledge and don’t know what my training options are.” 

While each advisor has their reasons for concern, we feel it's our duty to challenge them and knock down the roadblocks of reluctance with proof that Exit Planning can actually elevate an advisor’s existing offerings and broaden their reach.  

 

Addressing the Roadblocks 

  1. Lack of Clients and Client Interest 

Half the battle of Exit Planning work is convincing your owner clients of the importance of planning for their future. Just as you might be hesitant to add Exit Planning to your core services, they are hesitant to admit they should start thinking long-term. The fact is that 100% of business owners will exit their business, whether they planned for it or not. 

Another fact that will be supported with statistics in the 2022 BEI Business Owner Survey (coming soon!) is that business owners are considering Exit Planning earlier in their ownership cycle than ever before. Not only does this mean that the demographic audience available to you is expanding, but the ways in which you can reach them are changing too. 

The key is to not throw in the towel too early in the process of seeking clients. Putting in the work to market your service as an effective solution to the problem that owners may or may not know they have might take some time. Some effective ways that BEI Members have found success have been utilizing their BEI license to enact automated e-newsletters, using assessment tools for discovery, installing a referral strategy and leaning into social media for outreach. 

  1. Lack of Time & Bandwidth 

The truth about time is that everyone wishes they had more of it. Just as you may be worried about the lack of time you have to add this service to your offerings, your clients stand by the idea that they don’t have enough time to plan. 

As their advisor, it is your job to acknowledge and articulate to them the dangers of not planning. By waiting, your client may not build enough business value to sell for their desired amount, they might neglect training next-level management, or some unforeseen death or injury might occur. 

Both you and the business owner will appreciate putting the time in beforehand versus wishing you had made more of a plan once the transition event happens. After all, the role of an Exit Planning Advisor is to optimize the business owner’s time based on their goals, which in turn, will help to prioritize your own time. 

From our perspective, there are two solutions that ease time and bandwidth challenges: adopting a repeatable process and connecting with a network of professionals. BEI Advisors adhere to the Seven Step Exit Planning Process and have found value in being able to repeat proven steps with their clients from identifying exit goals to business continuity planning and more. In addition, gaining access to the BEI Network allows for collaboration between advisors across different disciplines to share expertise and strategies. 

  1. Lack of Exit Planning Knowledge & Training 

Lack of knowledge and training typically falls back on having a shortage of time. However, it’s worth repeating that putting the time in will lead to more clients and more profitability in the long run. It’s easy to use inexperience as an excuse to tack on one more thing to your list. But, having a solid understanding of what options are available when it comes to Exit Planning training can determine how to fit it into your schedule. 

As far as BEI training goes, there are two paths to obtaining the Certified Exit Planner (CExP) designation, the industry’s highest certification to perform Exit Planning services: either beginning with one of three BEI Licenses and then doing the series of courses, or beginning with the series of three courses. To learn more about each path’s pricing, download the info sheet below. 

 

Which Path Should You Choose

The Bottom Line

As with any new personal or professional venture, there is always risk. At BEI, our mission is to provide indispensable tools for advisors like you - that’s why we’ve designed tools to save time, create consistency, and deliver high-quality solutions to current and prospective business owner clients. 

To explore more Exit Planning content that will help you overcome your hesitations, start with diving into some of our free content: 

 

Register for our upcoming webinar, The BEI Path to Exit Planning Success, where we’ll discuss in detail the time commitments and requirements involved in BEI educational courses. We’ll cover how both BEI education and BEI licenses will ultimately help you resolve challenges brought on by lack of time, bandwidth, knowledge and client engagement. 

 

Register for the Upcoming Webinar

Knocking Down Common Exit Planning Roadblocks

Is Exit Planning Only for Aging Owners?

Fri, 10/14/2022 - 08:00

Written by: mernzen

When an advisor is approached with the concept of Exit Planning, it is common to be met with aversion or disinterest in adding those services to their practice. Perhaps they feel the planning work they do is the same thing as Exit Planning, or maybe they feel their business owner clientele are not in need of those services due to their age or place in the ownership cycle.  

However, as data has been collected on the state of the economy and the interests of the modern-day business owner, insights suggest that the market for Exit Planning is larger and more vast than ever before. 

Every few years, BEI produces a Business Owner Survey. While the 2022 report is in its final stages of preparation, there is one insight we couldn’t wait to share: 

Business owners are thinking about Exit Planning at an earlier age than ever before. 

While this might not come as a huge shock, this insight suggests that Exit Planning Advisors will not only be working with business owners who are younger in age, but that they may face new obstacles and a different outlook than in years past.  

Business Owner’s Outlook  

While the above insight might suggest that younger business owners are in a rush to retire, that may not be the case. In a 2021 study by Wilmington Trust, it was reported that confidence in the future of the US economy has declined, as well as confidence in the ability to gain new prospects for their products and services. 

With an emphasis on adopting digital tools and a rapidly changing business landscape, insecurities over technology have accelerated the owner’s interest in Exit Planning and they feel that getting out of their business may be a better solution in the long-term. Business owners are weighing the pros and cons of these factors to determine when the right time is for them to exit, leading them to consider their Exit Plans earlier than ever before. 

How Exit Planning Advisors Can Help 

Ease Anxiety 

The above outlook and insecurities of a business owner are only heightened by the headlines. While you may not be able to fully settle anxieties or quiet the whispers of a possible recession, inflation hikes, wars, labor shortages, the list goes on; the reality is that the economy has both tailwinds and headwinds. 

A 2022 mid-year market review by Edelman Financial suggested that these negative headlines don’t often tell the full economic story. For example, it was reported that in the first half of 2022:

“Beneath the GDP contraction, consumer spending remained strong and nonfarm payroll gains averaged more than 480,000 per month, remaining the tightest job market in decades, driving massive wage gains.” 

Headlines don’t always focus on the good news. As an Exit Planning Advisor, having a firm grasp on data, both current and historical, can help put the state of the economy into perspective for your clients. Encourage them to follow the data, not their emotions.

Help Diversify 

Exit Planning Advisors can help their clients earn greater value from all of their collective assets. It would be ill-advised to let younger business owners assume that even by contributing the maximum amount to a 401(k) plan each year, for example, would give them enough to be financially independent at age 50. 

Encourage owners to diversify their assets and find additional passive income streams to more rapidly generate wealth that will sustain long-term. An advantage of working with an Exit Planning Advisor for a business owner is that they will build a team of advisors who can recommend different diversification approaches. These could include tax strategies, different kinds of insurance plans, or even establishing an estate plan, all to protect their wealth and their family in the future, even when the market rises and falls. 

Determine Lifestyle Plans

As is true with any business owner in any stage of their ownership cycle, if a younger owner desires to sell their business and retire, it is still crucial to determine what they want their post-exit life to look like.  The New York Times recently reported that millennials specifically dream of stopping work, or doing only fulfilling work, 15 years before their parents did. 

However, these aspirations are colliding with the reality that they will likely not be able to accumulate enough savings to do so. Despite the struggle and the means to save more, the 2022 Retirement Insights Survey from TIAA revealed that millennial workers, ages 25 - 39 have nearly 40% confidence in their ability to plan for retirement. This indicates that business owners in this age group will need to be approached about Exit Planning at an earlier stage. 

No matter the confidence level, the key for an Exit Planning Advisor is to really nail down what their plans for retirement actually are. Whether it’s the time to travel and spend with their family, the ability to volunteer more, or something else, knowing the dreams and lifestyle needs of a business owner aspiring to exit makes the difference in mapping out strategies to get them there. 

Start Now 

Having the knowledge that more and more business owners may want to exit sooner, or at the very least have it on their minds earlier, broadens the number of prospects you have for Exit Planning. Targeting business owners closer to the start of their business will only reap more positive benefits by lengthening the time you’ll spend with them doing Exit Planning work. 

While every Exit Planning engagement is different and has timelines driven by each owner’s exit goals, time binds all decisions. It is advisable to start planning for an exit at least five years in advance, but 10+ years is even better. Knowing that, as well as the fact that younger business owners want to retire, may broaden your opportunities as an advisor and help you shift focus. 

 

Conclusion: 

As mentioned, the Exit Planning Market has expanded (beyond Boomers) and the 2022 BEI Business Owner Survey, which will be released soon, will report on what else that means for advisors. Knowing that younger generations have increased interest in Exit Planning supplies ample opportunities for those involved in or looking to get started in the Exit Planning space. 

Once released, the BEI Business Owner Survey will dive deeper into these opportunities, what other trends have shifted, perceived obstacles, and more! 

To explore more Exit Planning content, start with diving deeper into:  

 

Is Exit Planning Only for Aging Owners?