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Make Your Transition Easy – Expert Exit Planning Services for Business Owners

At Heritage Business Advisors, we know that preparing to exit the company you've poured yourself into for so many years is one of the most important things you will ever do. Through our exit planning services, it is our goal to ensure that both the business owner and the business are ready to sell when the opportunity and the correct timing intersect.

Business exit planning is a process and should be approached with the same intentionality with which you run your business.  That's why we believe that it’s never too early to begin planning the exit of your business. The team of Certified Exit Planning Advisors (CEPA) at Heritage takes the guesswork out of preparing for your exit with meticulous detail. Our extensive training in business value growth and exit planning strategies makes us unique here in Knoxville and around the country.

“To move from concepts to action, you need to integrate exit strategy practices into the daily operations of your business.”

— Christopher M. Snider (Founder of the Exit Planning Institute)

Whether it’s personal finance, value growth, taxes, or legal issues, you can rest assured that Heritage Business Advisors will guide you through the entire process, choosing the exit strategy that’s best for you, your family, and your business. Gathering, assessing, modifying, and monitoring the numbers can be an in-depth and complicated process, one that continues to become exponentially more complicated as competition increases, laws change, and technology advances. Navigating a business exit requires the skill of proven advisors. Heritage Business Advisors has the experience and the expertise to guide you through your exit.

Business exit planning is a complicated and ever-changing process that not just anyone has the experience to handle. Here at Heritage, we have the training to navigate the complexities of that process. We coordinate your company's principles with key staff members, your CPA, your banker, your legal team and anyone else that has an effect on your finances, in an effort to drive your long-term growth. Our team takes our fiduciary obligation to act in your best interest very seriously and your success is our number one motivation.

From small, single-owner businesses with modest annual sales to large, multi-owner corporations, Heritage has the knowledge and experience to prepare you for a successful exit. The team at Heritage Business Advisors have been trained as MBA’s, Certified Exit Planning Advisors, and Certified Value Growth Advisors™ allowing us to bring strategies that help prepare you to meet your business objectives.

The Exit Planning Process

By focusing on the Value Acceleration Methodology (VAM), we can position you and your business to be ready for your exit when the opportunity and timing present themselves. Proper exit planning should be an ongoing process that begins years before you plan to make your exit. Using the VAM, we can break the entire exit planning process down into three “gates.” These gates are Discovery, Preparation, and Decision. Each one has multiple steps to complete before you will have successfully passed through them.

Heritage Business Advisors’ Certified Exit Planning Advisors take you through the entire process so that you are assured that your transition is as seamless as possible. In order to better prepare you, we have created a detailed description of the process.

The Exit Planning Process chart

Gate One: Discovery

The Discovery gate is all about getting to know you and your business, inside and out. Here, we will evaluate your personal finances, your business’s benchmark value, tax records, and even estate plans. All of these components show us where you are and how to proceed.

Valuation and Multipliers

The first step in our exit planning process is determining the value of your business, your personal assets, and your investments. Having a baseline measurement is necessary for creating business, tax, estate, and personal financial plans. We use this information to determine our path to driving you and your business toward its maximum salable value. The most efficient way of increasing the value of your business is to work toward increasing its multiplier.

During this part of the process, you may discover some things about your business that you weren’t previously aware of. Through the valuation assessment, we can determine exactly where you’re most at risk and pinpoint potential earnings that are being left at the table.

This meeting is often called the Triggering Event and it really begins the entire growth process. It provides you with an exact picture of the value of your business, allowing you to see specific ways to remove risk and add increased value and transferability.

We will conduct a series of interviews and have you complete the self-assessment questionnaires, in order to determine the attractiveness of your business — how it looks from an outsider’s perspective — and its readiness for your departure. Attractiveness and readiness are not the same things. Your business could appear very attractive from the outside but quickly become very unattractive to potential buyers once they’ve conducted their due diligence and examined its readiness.

Protecting Current Value and Planning for the Future

Throughout the exit planning process, we will be working to drive the multiple that will increase the sellable value of your business. As you work through the triggering event, your exit planning advisor will help you develop a plan to improve the areas in your business that scored below average. You will be given directives that are aimed at improving your business’ attractiveness and its readiness, in order to protect and increase value. Early in the cycle, you will be working to mitigate risk and prioritizing the protection of your business’ value. However, your first step is to formulate a series of 90-day action plans with deliverable results. Usually, these early tasks are easily accomplished but grow in difficulty as you progress.

The 90-day action plan consists of pointed and prioritized tasks that will improve the areas of attractiveness and readiness that are found to be underperforming within your business, as well as to leverage the areas that are considered above average or even best-in-class. You will then implement these action plans with your team to begin the work of closing the value gap and achieving the overall vision.

We will use advanced metrics to measure the results as you and your team complete items on your action plan. Your exit planning advisor will coach you through value acceleration methods to build routines within your personal and company’s daily operations, driving growth and increasing its value multiplier.

Gate Two: Preparation

The second gate is all about delivering your action plans and executing them with your team. By this time, you will have held several workshops with them and come to a consensus on what the vision is and how to prioritize each action step in your plans.

It is best to keep your plans to 90-day “sprints.” By focusing on what is immediately in front of you, we can more easily manage the necessary changes that must be made to prepare for a successful exit. After completing the tasks designated for the current 90-day plan, you will reset your focus and we will make preparations to begin the next 90-day sprint.

Turning Plans Into Action

Now that you have completed the triggering action and devised a series of 90-day plans based on the personal, financial, and business assessments, it is time to put those plans into action. We keep the plans short, confined to one business quarter with the goal of keeping everyone involved and focused.

During each 90-day plan, we encourage you to complete five personal objectives and five business objectives. Successfully completing these objectives, drives you to finish the quarter with tangible progress. Each 90-day plan works toward completing the annual “theme” which also works toward the overall 3-5 year vision for your exit.

At the end of each successfully completed objective, you will be closer to completing your quarterly directives and increasing the value multipliers that drive your salable value. As we complete each cycle, your advisor will assist you in recalibrating and reassessing your goals. We want to continuously evaluate your progress and make decisions about whether you should keep or sell/transfer your company. Having a qualified and objective advisor will help you when making these assessments.

Throughout the second gate, we will assist you in coordinating a repeating series of workshops with your team. You will meet with your project leaders in a one-on-one check-in workshop, three times during each 90-day sprint. The purpose of these meetings is to receive progress updates, provide individual feedback, and to encourage them to complete the assigned task before the end of the month, team accountability meetings.

Team accountability meetings will be held at the end of each month. Each project leader is expected to present the team with the status of their individual projects and to hold each other accountable. Doing so will clarify who is on track and who needs added support in completing the task on time.

Finally, we will help you to conduct quarterly renewal workshops with your team. This is an opportunity for everyone to come together in a time of bonding and review the successes and missed opportunities from the previous 90-days, establish priorities, and assign priorities to specific groups.

After you have completed at least two 90-day cycles, we will rescore your personal, financial, and business value factors to reflect the changes that have taken place. Through continuous evaluation, we are able to ensure that you are staying on the most direct path toward your goals.

Gate Three: Decision Time

By the time you have passed into gate three, we will have made many operational, personal, and financial changes to your business. Many of these will have become routine in the day-to-day activities within your company.

Entering gate three is the culmination of our client/advisor relationship. What were once long-term goals will now be a tangible reality that requires you to contemplate the current status of your company, reflect on the past, and make a decision about the future of you and your business.

The Honest Evaluation

Just as we have done through each step in the exit planning process, Heritage Business Advisors will challenge you to be brutally honest with yourself during this decision-making process. We will conduct a readiness survey to ensure that you are properly prepared to make one of the most important decisions of your life. Being honest with yourself as you answer these questions is paramount, as there can be severe consequences to making your exit before you are truly ready.

We will reassess your tax and estate planning strategies to make sure that they have had ample time to maximize your net proceeds and offer you the best advice based on your current standings. Our goal is to position you to make your transition in the most beneficial way for you and your business.

Once you’ve made your decision, we will guide you through the eight exit options (many of our clients will realistically only have seven options, as they aren’t large enough for an IPO). Your exit planning advisor will help you to weigh the pros and cons of each option and begin the necessary steps for whichever option you choose.

However, should you elect to keep and grow your business, Heritage Business Advisors will continue to work to improve your business’ growth and increase its value.

Schedule A Phone Meeting

If you are ready to begin the process of planning the exit of your business, the Heritage Business Advisors team is ready to build your plan with you.