Broken Crystal Balls and Exit Planning

exit strategyI remember a conversation I had about 10 years ago with a successful business owner.  I remember this gentleman fondly.  He took the time to help mentor a young and eager insurance professional.  He shared great stories with me and often a 15 minute meeting could turn into hours of laughter, sharing of failures and successes, and pearls of wisdom.

One day I asked him a question that concerned the risk manager in me.  It was a question I don't think many insurance professionals ask.  "What is your exit strategy?"  His response was equal parts anger at the thought of leaving, and anger that a 29 year old was even asking the question.  I was a bit shocked as I was genuinely concerned.  I knew that his business was at risk without a strategy.

Shame on me for not pushing the conversation further.  I knew in my gut I should have, but I also knew it would be really uncomfortable for him.  A few years later, life happened.  Due to a variety of internal and external circumstances he was forced to liquidate his business.  Had a strategy been in place, he could have sold on his own terms or perpetuated interally.  This was an intelligent man full of class and integrity. He deserved the opportunity to structure a better deal for himself, his family, and his employees.  Unfortunately, in the absence of planning, we don't always get the opportunities we deserve.

As business owners we face risks every day that we cannot transfer via the purchase of an insurance policy.  We need to ensure we engage in a systematic process to identify, analyze, and control these risks. Sometimes rolling up your sleeves and doing some planning will save you far more money than buying an insurance policy.

Are you or your business at risk?