One of the first things I ask someone when I start mentoring them is “when do you want to sell?”
After a few blinks and an incredulous look, most pipe up and passionately retort with “I haven’t even started yet, why would I think about selling!?”
To which I go on to explain the importance of knowing the end, summed up by one of my favourite quotes:
“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else!” Laurence J. Peter
Another key lesson I learned too late in business was not thinking about exiting from day one. I was, like many exuberant young small business owners, too fixated and caught-up in the now – the adrenaline, the cool stuff we were doing.
If I had made sure I had a mentor, or had taken a mere few hours to consider the exit properly, I would have done a whole lot of things differently.
Here are some things you need to consider when thinking about the end, at the start:
- How does my business look when it sells?
- Number of staff
- Number of offices
- Annual sales
- Profit it needs to be making (and is that net profit, EBIT – Earnings Before Interest & Taxation)
- Products and services it will offer
- Organisation chart
All these questions will influence the thousands of tiny decisions you will make in the coming years. Having them in the back of your mind will enable you to make better decisions and therefore save time, and money, for when you are ready to sell.