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Ways to leave your business

Updated: Jan 12

If the first question is whether to exit your business and the second question is when, what is the third? Maybe it could be how to leave? That might seem odd. After all, there is being there and there is not being there. Binary. Kind of like being pregnant. You can’t be partially pregnant. But this is an altogether more complex matter.


There are many ways to exit a business, so let’s take a look at some of the more common ones.

1. The simplest and cleanest exit is a complete break. You sell the shares in the company and with it goes the team, the plant and machinery, the stock, the customers. Lock, stock and barrel.

2. You may choose to step back from day to day operational management but remain involved at a less critical level by selling a majority shareholding and stay on in an advisory/governance role.

3. You may choose family succession if there is a suitable candidate within your extended whanau.

4. You might think there is an opportunity for someone within your team to take charge, or even a group who could pool resources and take over.


There are many ways of skinning this cat and all of them are possibilities if you take the time and put in the effort to set it up properly. If the first question is whether to exit your business and the second question is when, what is the third? Maybe it could be how to leave? That might seem odd. After all, there is being there and there is not being there. Binary. Kind of like being pregnant. You can’t be partially pregnant. But this is an altogether more complex matter.

What's your "why"?

You may have heard of this modern concept called “find your why”. Although it sounds like consultant gobbledegook, it is a valid question. When making a change as significant as exiting your business, you’re likely to have to dig deep to make it all happen without it being confronting and hard. Superficially it seems like a dream to contemplate not having to get up every morning and face down the myriad hurdles of a business owner. being front and centre of everything is like a drug. You wish you could be free of it but the thought of being without it can be terrifying and really challenge your sense of identity and self-worth. Just look at the stories of soldiers who have been in combat. On the battlefield they dream of being home with their loved ones, but when they get home they often feel dead behind the eyes and secretly crave the rush and the existential nature of being in danger. Why do you want out? Is it to spend time with the grandchildren? Is it to pursue travel, a new relationship or just to go fishing with your mates. What matters is that the “why” is more compelling than the gravitational force pulling you back to the business.


Making a plan

Whatever choice you make around the type of exit you want to take will require anywhere from a subtly different exit plan to a radically different one. How you need to approach this is with eyes wide open and a clear understanding that the things that may have delivered you a highly successful business under your leadership are almost guaranteed to not be the things that will deliver that same future success. The biggest part of this plan has to be an authentic hunt for all the visible and invisible things that you, as the owner of the business do that shapes and drives the company forward. Hopefully most of these things are positive and value-adding, but you might be surprised at the number of things you do that actually sap value. Not intentionally but because they have been done for so long they are just about invisible. Part one of your plan needs to be getting daylight around who you are as a boss, as an owner, as a practitioner of business. Your relationships with all the company stakeholders, because you need to prepare a scenario where it isn’t you leading all that and that can’t be allowed to hurt the future.


Contact us for a confidential conversation.

Exit Strategy Group Burton Worth: +64 27 266 4492 Hugo Sandall +64 21 64 64 50

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