Error message
  • Warning: array_flip(): Can only flip STRING and INTEGER values! in EntityCacheControllerHelper::entityCacheLoad() (line 73 of /srv/www/drupal7/sites/all/modules/entitycache/includes/entitycache.entitycachecontrollerhelper.inc).
  • Warning: array_flip(): Can only flip STRING and INTEGER values! in EntityCacheControllerHelper::entityCacheLoad() (line 73 of /srv/www/drupal7/sites/all/modules/entitycache/includes/entitycache.entitycachecontrollerhelper.inc).
  • Warning: array_flip(): Can only flip STRING and INTEGER values! in EntityCacheControllerHelper::entityCacheLoad() (line 73 of /srv/www/drupal7/sites/all/modules/entitycache/includes/entitycache.entitycachecontrollerhelper.inc).
  • Warning: array_flip(): Can only flip STRING and INTEGER values! in EntityAPIController->load() (line 219 of /srv/www/drupal7/sites/all/modules/entity/includes/entity.controller.inc).

To build a successful business, know your goals and your exit strategy

To build a successful business, know your goals and your exit strategy
To build a successful business, know your goals and your exit strategy

Last week I hosted a business seminar that allowed me to speak to people on Main Street and see the current environment through their eyes. There is understandably quite a bit of confusion and hesitation among business owners looking to grow and manage their businesses effectively, so I thought I’d go back to basics and talk a bit about strategies and setting up for success.

Firstly, have a plan: A plan can change and it can be improved as you move forward, but without it you really don’t have a sense of where you’re trying to go. You need a plan.

A plan should start with your goals. This should include a clear sense of what you want from your business – financially, professionally and personally. I have known people who have focused on simply one of these, and they’ve become demotivated. You must define how much money you want to earn from this enterprise; you must have a clear goal about what kind of professional glory you are pursuing; and you should define personal happiness before starting a business.

A plan must also include marketing plans, key employees, financial and corporate structures, protections such as insurances and a really good system that tells you if you’re succeeding.

This last one is something that many first-time business owners ignore. However, adopting key performance indicators and judging your business against them is crucial. It’s the method by which you judge whether the plan is working.

Your plan should also delineate shareholders, investors, partners and the exit strategy.

I advise business owners to think carefully about whom they take on as a partner or investor – the right partner can be the best thing you ever did because that person can be a mentor, a war buddy and someone to share the pain and the wealth with. You want a good partner, but you want to be a good partner, too. The same goes for investors – the best one may not be the one with the most money, but the best contacts and the most experience.

And then there’s exit strategy. Anyone who’s already owned a business will tell you that it’s worth thinking about your exit before you start a business. Many business ventures end in organised liquidation, trade sale or internal buy-out. And how that works is dependent on the structure and decisions about shareholding and rights, etc.

It’s worth discussing this with your accountant or solicitor before starting a business. And I always advise business owners to state in their plan what value they want to build the business to. That is to say, if a large business were to bid to buy your business, what price would you want and what kind of sale would you want?

Once you start planning for these goals, you realise that you have to make certain structural decisions before you start the business.

So I think very highly of planning. I’ve started, invested in and sold many businesses and I’ll do it all again in the future. And I don’t take any serious steps until I have a plan – a road map for success.

Lastly, let me give you a good template for a business owner’s personality: work, play, fight, love, believe.

You must want to work, you must plan for downtime away from work, you must be prepared to fight for what’s right and for your business, you must have a love or a passion for what you’re doing, and you must arise each morning with a ton of belief in what you’re doing and where you’re going.

Good luck!

Mark Bouris is executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road, a financial services company offering home loans, financial planning, accounting and tax, and insurance. He runs a Q&A session on Twitter every Monday afternoon at 4pm for small business owners using the hashtag #bizQandA.

Mark Bouris

Mark Bouris

Mark Bouris is executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road, a financial services company offering home loans, financial planning, accounting and tax, and insurance.

Community Discussion

Be the first one to comment on this article
What would you like to say about this project?