Entrepreneurs are famous for always thinking about “what’s next,” however what’s next can often come at the expense of what is. You’ve heard of “bright shiny object” syndrome? It’s the entrepreneurial version of Attention Deficit Disorder.
Chapter 10 of my book, Putting together the Entrepreneurial Puzzle, discusses how you can prepare yourself so you don’t miss the end game. (Get your *free* download of Chapter 10 here. It’s the last chapter so we have come to the end.)
Step 1: Think about what you’re trying to accomplish.
Are you growing your business to go public? Leaving a legacy for your family? Do you want to sell? Sell to your employees? Whatever it might be, decide what it is because it will inform your strategy and opportunities going forward. When you are clear on the objective, you’ll recognize the opportunity when it arrives.
Step 2: Think about how much is enough.
Really, how much money do you want or need to retire or do something else? Figure it out as it will help guide your decisions along the way.
Step 3: Think about the timeline.
How long do you want to work in this business? It may inform how fast you grow, how much you invest, or acquisitions you may make along the way.
Step 4: Ask yourself what you will be doing when you don’t have the business.
This is probably the most important step of all. I have seen so many businesses not sell when they should have because the owner had nothing else to go to. Entrepreneurs don’t retire, they always go on to something else, (even if it’s yacht racing). They’re just wired that way. However, they won’t move until they have a clear picture of what’s next.
Now, depending on how clear you are on all the answers to the steps above, how are you doing on the journey? It’s December and for most companies, it’s time to evaluate how well you did on the annual plan, how much progress you’re making towards your strategic plan and ultimately, that exit strategy.
When thinking about your goals for the coming year, incorporate some goals for your succession strategy. If you don’t, remember that the end might come as a bit of a surprise and not necessarily a good one.