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Exit Planning And Succession

'It's Never Too Early!'

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What is an Exit Strategy?

A business exit strategy is when a business owner is preparing to exit from his or her own company. It helps them ensure that their business is where it needs to be to maximise for the future. You will be able to plan for the future of your company, understand your bottom line, and help make sure that you have a successful and efficient exit.

An effective exit plan prepares the next leadership team to take on the owner’s responsibilities so that the company can run without the owner in it. The process takes time, and an exit plan allows you to reduce risk and time your departure appropriately. Developing a solid exit strategy helps make your exit smooth.

Why do you need an Exit Plan?

Do you feel that you have achieved everything you want to accomplish with your business?

Are you ready to move on to the next phase of your life? Is the next member of your family ready to step up to the plate? Whether you are retiring, have been affected by an unavoidable outside circumstance, or are just ready for something new, if the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you need to start planning your exit.

Are you struggling to leave your company? Do you feel reluctant to leave when the management team are still unsure? An exit plan can help you prepare your successors by sharing your knowledge and expertise with your team. This will increase the likelihood that your business will survive your departure.

Exit strategies can help you to trust your successor. Through planning and preparation, you can make sure that you are leaving your business in capable hands, allowing you to exit peacefully without worrying about the state of your company.

Planning for the end will also help you to increase value into your business ensuring that it looks favourable to potential buyers.

Sometimes external circumstances such as an illness, death, political changes, or a global pandemic can alter your plans. Having an exit strategy in place allows you to be more adaptable to any unexpected changes reducing the impact of adverse influences. It is also flexible enough to embrace new opportunities to add value to the business.

Joe Quintana talks to James Short about the importance of exit planning.

To find out more about our expert consultants, check out our Who We Are page.

When should you start Exit Planning?

At hgkc, we like to say that it is never too early to start your business exit plan. Ideally you should aim to begin three to five years before your exit, as the time to leave comes closer the more detailed this plan needs to be.

Do you want to walk away from your business with nothing? Many business owners put their heart and soul into their companies, working a lifetime to get to where they are, however, they often fail to think about what happens to all that hard work when they choose to leave.


Start your exit plan now and you can:

  • Achieve the exit that you want, when you want.
  • Protect your clients, your staff and yourself.
  • Increase the value of your company.


Starting your exit strategy in advance gives you the time to work on what needs improving – if you think that your business isn’t as attractive as it used to be, that is what it will look like to potential buyers/investors too.

Have you already been approached by someone wanting to buy your business? This means that your company may be doing well, and planning will help you raise wider interest from potential acquirers.

Unsure if you and your business are ready to start exit planning, take advantage of our North Star Diagnostic - a questionnaire we have researched and created to help you understand where you are now, where you need to go and how ready you are for the journey.

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Different Exit paths

There are a variety of different exit pathways that are available to you:

Each of these exit routes have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.                                                           

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A management buyout (MBO) is when your management team buys your business. This helps create a smoother transaction and is reassuring as you would be leaving your business in capable hands.

It helps to ensure that quality service and your business standards continue. An effective exit strategy will help your management team prepare financially, as usually they may require outside support.

An MBO will generally help create a more favourable deal as they will have a better understanding of your company’s values and guidelines. You may have a shorter time frame to complete an MBO and there will be less risk to your company’s future.

To ensure a successful process, extricate yourself from all key transactions. Reduce your contact time with customers, clients, and partners. Pass down your knowledge and experiences to your staff, giving them the responsibility to make important decisions. Making yourself redundant to your business, will give your customers and employees a sense of confidence that your company will not only survive, but thrive, without you.


A management buy-in (MBI) is where an external management team buys a controlling ownership stake into your company. This can cause dissatisfaction with your team as they may replace the old managers. There is a chance that they will not gel with your employees and not fit into your business’ culture.

A management buy-in can help to improve a business’ success if the current management team aren’t able to run the company efficiently. An external team will also bring new knowledge and experience.

A MBI is a great opportunity to add value by bringing in a team with new skills and expertise, such as access to new markets, territories or resources

An exit plan can help to prepare your team for new management. An effective strategy can also help to ease the new managers into the role.

Listen to Joe Quintana talking to Julian Allen about how we advised on succession at Friars Moor.

Read our Case Study to see the results of our work with Friars Moor. 

Trade Sale

A trade sale is when your business is bought by a company in a related industry to you (this can sometimes be a competitor). It can be a quick process resulting in a good pay-out.

Before selling your business, it is wise to get your house in order and making sure that all your accounting is aligned and presentable. This will help to make you more desirable. Put yourselves in your buyer’s shoes, any problems you can identify, they will too. Deal with these problems or it can cause issues further down the line resulting in a longer drawn-out process that ends up with you settling for a lower price.

Managing your goals is important when it comes to trade deals. You must not be afraid to walk away from a deal if the price is not right. Timing is important and it is wise to seek independent advice before undertaking a trade sale.

Family Business Succession Plan

Passing on the business to a family member, whether it be a sibling or the next generation, may seem straightforward, however, sometimes tensions can arise between family members who are expecting the promotion.

A long-term plan helps you to prepare for what’s to come, creating an effective strategy can work to prevent nepotism. Family businesses can face risks by promoting family members to senior positions who lack the right experience and education. However, this is not always the case as some family businesses will have highly motivated and experienced family members who are often taking on new roles alongside owners and directors who are not members of the family.

An exit strategy can function as a roadmap that successors can use to hit the ground running. Also, it will be useful in defusing any disagreements between family members fighting for control as a plan will clearly lay out who the desired successor is.


Martin Thatcher also talks about his family business in our Find Your North Star Podcast Series - listen here:

Employee Ownership Trust

An Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) is where a trust holds a controlling stake of your business. An advantage of an EOT is that you are able to sell for fair market value without facing capital gains tax liability.

Preparing your employees for ownership is vital as they will be responsible for earning profit from which you will be paid. The shared ownership of the EOT can motivate an increase in productivity and improve the overall performance of the company.

Early planning will allow business owners the time to align what’s best for both their business and their employees. A part of your exit strategy can also be used to build up a surplus of cash for your business in which a lump sum can be paid out to you.


To help prepare your company for an EOT listen to our Podcast channel Find Your North Star with Ovation Finance Founder Chris Budd.

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Closing Down

Some business owners don’t have any desire to sell their company. Either they are intrinsically linked to the business providing the service/product, or they have no desire to keep the business going.

You can still have a successful exit is to strip your business down of its assets and wind it down.

Exit planning gives business owners a way of liquidating their assets and stake in the business which can generate a sizeable profit (if the business was successful) to help prepare them for what’s next.

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Setting your Exit Goals

To help prepare for your exit, you need to ask yourself what you want to happen next:

  • Do you want to sell your business to a trade competitor?
  • Does your business have the capacity to expand?
  • Is a family member or your management team going to take over your business?
  • Who would have an interest in buying your company?
  • Do you want to exit completely?
  • Do you want your business to continue to thrive after your exit?
  • Is your business ready for sale?

Figuring out your end objectives will help to influence your exit strategy and once you have your goals in place, don’t stray from them. Don’t be afraid to say no to an offer if it is not a deal that you want. Don’t rush into any decision and be brave enough to walk away from potential buyers if you’re unhappy.

Set realistic, achievable goals that can be aligned to your exit strategy. Seek out help to find out what value you can get for your company. Send us a message to help you gain a better understanding of your objectives, and advice on the best way to achieve maximum value for your business.

Complete a North Star Diagnostic fill out a quick questionnaire. You will get a snapshot of where you business is now and understand the areas that need your attention.

What You Need To Do

Having an exit strategy in place will help you communicate your plans to your stakeholders, clients, staff. As part of your exit planning process, you need to prepare what needs to be said, to whom, and when they need to know it.

You can only exit your business once, so seeking professional advice early on will equip you with the knowledge you need to confidently take the next step.

To further expand your knowledge - have a look at our blogs on Exit Strategy and Planning.

What We Can Do For You

At hgkc, we have expert consultants who can advise and guide you along your exit planning journey. We will help you decide your objectives and with you, develop an exit strategy that will achieve your goals and build value into your company.

We use a tool Outcomes Mapping which helps to identify the outcome you want. We then look at the steps you need to take to achieve this ideal outcome, completing each step in the right order to build the most value for your business.

At hgkc we hold regular sessions to help keep you focused on your priorities and stop you getting side-tracked. We act as a sounding board to your ideas and will listen without judgement to help you find the best outcome.

If you don’t have the expertise, we bring our own experience and knowledge to help you solve difficult problems. We are focused on your success and ensuring that you have the exit that you want.


We also work with a wider team of trusted advisors who help advise you when it comes to your exit. When it comes to exit planning we work very closely with Roxburgh Milkins, a corporate law firm who have a lot of experience when it comes to exit strategies. 

Book a consultation with one of our expert consultants - we are happy to help on your first step towards your exit!

Key Points to Remember:

  • It’s never too early to start planning!
  • Set realistic and achievable goals and don’t be afraid to walk away from unsatisfactory deals.
  • Understand the different exit paths and select the right one for your business’ and your own needs.
  • Get your house in order – organise your accounts and review your contracts to make sure there are no problems that could put off a potential buyer.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – find a trusted third party like hgkc, who can advise you and help you get the most value for your company.
  • Trust your team and your partners – communicate your plans and work with them to create a smoother exit.
  • Share your knowledge and pass your expertise on!
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hgkc was born from the realisation that together our combined practical experience and knowledge can offer our clients a broader, deeper and richer experience that will deliver better results faster.