Editor's Blog

End Game: What's Yours?

October 24, 2010
We get so busy running our business that we forget why we got into business and we’ve never thought about what the End Game should and could be.

In a recent free 30-minute consulting call, I was speaking with a contractor who is going to be 60 years old and he now had concerns on what he should be doing next in his life and what that means for his business.  

It made me reflect on how often I’ve heard these same questions over the years.  

Here’s what’s missing for most…we get so busy running our business that we forget why we got into business in the first place. And we’ve never thought about what the End Game should and could be.  

A simple definition of End Game is it’s what your business will look like when you’re done building it.  

To that, I’d add: What will you do for an Act II in life? And how do you create a smooth transition?  

It’s all in the planning. And if you don’t plan…you’re being planned for.  

The reality is sometimes we need to exit our business for health reasons, we’re going broke, we hate what we do and want to do something else, new management and/or family members are coming up the ranks or coming on board, or we’re aging and there are other things in life that are calling us.  

There is no shortage of reasons to plan and to create a formalized End Game.  

This planning starts with an honest and objective assessment of what you’re business is worth today to someone interested in buying it, what’s working and will continue to work, what’s not working and why, what do you want your business to do for you vs. what you have to do for it.  

Most of us forget that we went into business for a reason. Those reasons also vary but typically it’s the desire for financial freedom, a chance to be our own boss, to build a legacy that we can pass on to our family and our desire to enjoy success.  

Unfortunately, we get so busy with dealing with the day to day of business that it can get so overwhelming we don’t take the time to look ahead and plan. I get it.  

That said I encourage you to think of this approach to running your business as driving your car with your eyes on the road ahead vs. driving your car while texting. You’re going to crash…it’s just a matter of when.

What options do you have when shaping your End Game Exit Strategy?

Here’s just a brief list:  

1. You can fix what’s wrong with your business and fall in love with the work you do and regain your health.

2. You can take on a partner to help shoulder the load as long as you do your due diligence about who you’re getting “married to” and you get your exits in place just in case the honeymoon ends.

3. You can create a transition plan to younger family members and/or management [if they exist] to take the helm as you begin to step out. This, too, takes planning and exits for all.

4. You can sell the business to an outsider and go do something else whether it be business, pleasure or volunteering. It’s individual and you will want to think hard and long on what would be fun and rewarding depending on what you need and want in your life ahead.

5. You can sell the business to your employees if the business is systematic and the management team is in place that can run it so you don’t get dragged back in. Financing options and objective benchmarks are a must. But, how cool is it when those who have worked for you can begin to work for themselves as you head toward your next phase in life?

6. You can just close the doors if the business can’t be sold and you know that every day you stay in business you’re digging a deeper hole. There is no shame in doing this if you’re not committed to the longer and tougher road of fixing the broken business. The only shame is keeping the wheels spinning if you’re already stuck in a ditch.  

The biggest thing is to plan, gain clarity, get help in this process if you need it and then act. Procrastination will rob you of your options!


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