When it comes to running a business, there is one topic that is seldom spoken about – knowing the right time to leave it. Like any other aspect of day-to-day company life, when the time comes, there needs to be a fully realised strategy in place. But when is best to find pastures new?
As with any big decision in life, leaving with your head held high is the first essential element when laying the foundations for your departure. Going when the going is good allows the overall working environment to stay intact and positive without damaging your esteem or sense of self. Having said this, there are also the important matters of loyalty, commitment and communication. Although a company does need to show that it is on a trajectory towards a successful profit, you still need to feel as if you are an important contributing factor to the brand moving forward. For business owners, the challenge of moving from start-up to established may have long gone, or your mind may be focused on a completely new project altogether. Whatever your current position may be, your instincts will always serve you well – take the time to reflect and review your professional accomplishments, but if you get the sense you are ready to move on, no one knows your working environment, or your working self, better than you do.
Once you’ve committed to exiting your business, you’ll need to put a strategy in place to make sure any changeovers are conducted as smoothly as possible. This starts with a profound understanding of the business itself, and asking basic, fundamental questions that will provide clarification before next steps are taken. For owners, building a strong management team and clever investment will allow the important brand ‘culture’ to continue on. What do you want to achieve by selling your business? Knowing your motivations will allow you to define the right timing for a sale (best with a highly disciplined intent) and establishing a valuation that will account for changes in pricing and competition. With this in place, the brand you have spent years building up won’t be knocked down without you at the helm.