A successful angel investor friend explained to me the concept of exit strategy like this:
To achieve a successful exit, it helps to view your business as a product. A good business person empathises with their customer and understands their reasons for buying your product. You know what need your product fulfils in the market and who will want to buy it. You use your expertise and experience to create the best possible product to meet this need. You build a relationship with potential customers with a view to making sales.
Now, step back and look at your business as a product. Why would someone want to buy your business in the future? Which companies could take your business and create more value with it? What needs do they have that your business could fulfil? How could you build your business to make it easy for them to acquire and integrate it with theirs? This is your market and selling proposition. And just as it takes time to build a customer base for your product, it takes time to build a relationship with your potential buyer. So start now.
Here’s something I tell business owners all the time… “your business is like a shed”.
Read on for the explanation…
If I asked you to build a shed, what would you do? You would do what you do with any project, right? You’d get a picture of what the shed is supposed to look like. You’d look at the plans and follow the instructions. You’d get the right tools ready and you might even find someone else to help you build it, someone with better expertise in this type of construction.
The key distinction here is when you’re building a shed you know what it looks like, it’s a project. And a business is a project too, albeit a fairly long one. It’s not something that’s going to go on forever. It’s going to have an end. Just like any project, if you know what the end looks like you can devise the plan to get there. It’s a simple concept really but so many people don’t start a business that way. The majority start a business with no idea where it’s going. As a result a lot of valuable time is lost following strategies and tactics that are not leading to the ultimate goal… to build a business that works without YOU.
So get your picture clear. What does your shed look like? When your business fulfils all of your dreams for it, what makes it so amazing? Who are your customers? What is your team like? What does your office look like? What’s so special about it? Why do people love working there? What makes it irresistible to clients and team members alike? What makes your business a head and shoulders above the rest?
The clearer the picture of your future business you have, the better your chance of building it just like that.
Liber8ing Exercise for today: Spend 15 minutes with a blank sheet of paper and draw a picture (with words or diagrams) of what your business might look like in 5 or 1o years time. Then think about the tools you might need to get on board today to help get there.
PS. For more guidance on creating a clear end picture for your business, my book Liber8 your Business offers a step by step guide
Understanding freedom and how important it is to us as human beings is becoming an obsession of mine. Freedom is the very essence of happiness. Life is a gift, we don’t have long in the scheme of things.
So what is your answer to the late Mr Jobs’ question?
From the desk of liber8yourbusiness. Small business mentors and publisher of Liber8 Your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free. Get your copy here https://liber8yourbusiness.com/
This was one of the slides at my talk to the Bubbles & Inspiration audience last night. My point being that sometimes to get ahead in life you have to ask for things, even if it seems far too bold an ask. My example was when I was a secretary in an advertising agency in London I asked the Managing Director if he would pay for me to go on a creative writing course. It was a huge agency and he was a busy man. I knew I had no chance of this happening. But I asked anyway. And he said yes! Who would have thought? If I had not asked, I wonder where I would be today. On a different path for sure. So just ask. The worse that could happen is someone will say no.
At the end of my talk a lovely lady came up to me and asked if she could do my twelve month programme and, because I offered a money back guarantee, could she pay at the end of the twelve months? Of course I said no. But I loved that she asked. I knew that she’d been listening and there’s no harm in asking is there?
From the desk of liber8yourbusiness. Business mentors and experts in small business mentoring strategies. Based in Wellington, New Zealand.
I was up at the crack of dawn to work on my book again this morning. The chapter I’m working on is called “Driving value through your brand” and I find myself studying the great brands of our time to demonstrate some of the points I’m making. You can’t really write a chapter on branding without looking at Apple. And you can’t look at the Apple brand without thinking about the core driver of this brand.
Apple’s positioning line is ‘Think Different’ and these two simple words drive everything the company is about. And in an instant they explain why this company is so successful. Things are moving so fast right now in the world of technology and business. Nothing is what it was six months ago even. The companies who embrace change and implement new ideas quickly are the ones who will flourish.
Steve Jobs was exploring and looking new ideas right up until he died. Here’s a quote from him I found,
“So when a good idea comes, you know, part of my job is to move it around, just see what different people think, get people talking about it, argue with people about it, get ideas moving among that group of 100 people, get different people together to explore different aspects of it quietly, and, you know – just explore things.”
My tip for you today is to spend an hour or two this week thinking differently about your business. If you were to embrace the culture of Apple, just for a moment, how could you be the most innovative company in your industry?
There’s nothing as satisfying in life as the achievement of a goal (Except perhaps a nice cold glass of rose on a summer’s day!). Seriously… making progress in life, regardless of what you are trying to achieve, is made all the more meaningful if you are achieving what you set out to achieve. But I can tell you from my own experience that having other people to hold you accountable to your goals and then being there to celebrate with you when you achieve them… this makes all the difference.
Towards the end of last year I met up with two close friends for a cocktail. We’ve been friends for a long time but hadn’t really seen much of each other in recent years. One cocktail led to another. And then cocktails led to dinner and a few wines. All three of us are business women. All self-employed and all with busy lives, sometimes struggling to fit everything in. We got to talking about the projects that were really important to us and bemoaned the lack of time we had to make headway with them. We agreed we needed to feel some sense of accountabilty to motivate us to get moving on these projects. We decided we would meet once a month over cocktails and dinner to review our milestones.
I told my friends about my book, The Liber8 Factor, which has been sitting inside my PC for a year now… all mapped out, the bones all in place just waiting to be given flesh. The gauntlet was laid down. I was challenged to commit an end date to finishing the first draft. I bravely said end April 2012. I had a milestone goal to have the first 12 chapters to them by end March.
As I write this blog… it is Saturday 31 March. I am today reviewing the first 12 chapters. They are all there… the flesh on the bones at last. Tomorrow I will email them to my friends. We will meet on Tuesday at our favourite restaurant and I’ll feel proud to have achieved my goal. I will challenge them on their goals too, and offer support and help of course.
I am so enjoying re-connecting with my old pals in this way. And LOVING the challenge, support and help we are giving each other. So my tip for you today is ‘find yourself a support group’. It could be old friends who share common interests and are also looking for motivation and encouragement in their goals. Work colleagues. Family. Anyone who you know will both challenge and support you in your goals. Agree your goals and timeframes then meet regularly. Have fun with it… I highly recommend the cocktails and dinner approach…. for 12 chapters down and 12 to go… thanks so much Trish and Em. We are on fire!
From the desk of liber8yourbusiness. Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies. Based in Wellington, New Zealand.
I thoroughly enjoyed having coffee with Glenn Baker, editor of NZBusiness Magazine yesterday. We shared lots of business ideas and thoughts about how we can work together to help small businesses succeed. Glenn gave me a tip to share and as obvious as it is, you always need to look deep in your heart and ask yourself how well you are doing this:
Your profits come from your customers. They rule your world. But how much are you interacting with them? Do they feel like the Kings and Queens of your Universe? Are they loved beyond compare? Are you showing them the respect they deserve?
Just some numbers to think about. What is your margin? And how many/how much do you need to sell for your business to truly make great profit for you after normalised expenses? What’s the population of New Zealand? And what % of the population might want your product? Are you going to make it happen here? Just saying. For those of you who are creating businesses for NZ only. Most cities in the world have larger populations that our entire Country. Again… just saying….
I’ll keep the tips even more simple today. Facebook’s mission is ‘to make the world more open and connected’… what’s yours?
If you are following my blogs with any regularity you will know I am mad keen on all businesses having a purpose and a mission. They are much the same thing… a reason for being that is greater than the company itself and beyond the making of money. Think about your mission … what is your business doing here? Really? What value are you adding to the world by having your business succeed?
Believe me, the greater value your business adds the greater value added to your business.
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