The entrepreneurial lifecycle can be a mental rollercoaster. From the thrill of identifying a solution you’re going to solve in the market, to the sheer exhaustion of the start-up years, to the endless challenges of scaling up and managing cash flow, and finally to the mixed emotions of the exit – it’s not for the faint of heart.
Building Your Business with an External Mindset
If you’re looking to get to that exit phase on your terms and for the highest valuation, mindset is everything. From the very early days of building your business, you must shift your mindset from internal to external. If you’re looking at this business as an asset that will throw off income to you each year, you may find yourself chained to a proverbial ball-and-chain. It’s easy to allow your identity to get wrapped so tightly around the success of the business, that it’s no longer a separate entity from you. This means you’ll be serving the business, at the cost of your well-being, rather than setting up the business to serve you. If you understand early on that every business will exit, you won’t be beholden to this business or the identity you find in it.
Investing in Your Business with an External Mindset
How much are you paying yourself now versus investing in value drivers that a future buyer will be looking for? Keeping an external mindset means you’re willing to pay for people, processes, software, customer lists, etc. that you know will add value to the business long-term. If you put yourself in the mind of a potential buyer, what would you be looking for?
- Are you investing in a leadership team that will help you grow and fill in the gaps where you need the most help? You could be one or two hires away from gaining back your quality of life and ensuring you as the CEO are redundant to the day-to-day operations. Again, you must keep yourself separate from the business.
- Are you investing in a good finance and accounting function? This could be an internal hire such as a CFO, or an outsourced function, but either way, it must be setup to ensure that your cash flow and accounting is clean and organized. Entrepreneurs may be tempted to manage this function themselves, but it may be significantly more valuable to have someone else focusing on this so you’re freed up to continue scaling.
- Are you investing in a customer list and customer service department that could make the difference between an exit that is strictly a financial transaction versus a strategic transaction? When you have an external mindset, you will look for ways to build strategic assets that no one else can replicate.
The good news is that the same valuable drivers that look good to a potential buyer, are also the drivers that allow for your business to run smoothly on a day-to-day basis. Build them into your business early, and discover a level of freedom you didn’t realize was possible. The sooner you can shift your mindset to building with an exit in mind, the sooner you’ll begin stacking value in all the right places.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing additional expert tips on how you can get into the mindset of building your business with a strategic exit in mind. In the meantime, please download our free Whitepaper entitled Seven Traps Sophisticated Buyers Deploy Against Unwary Sellers. This Whitepaper outlines the most common tactics that Private Equity Firms or other experienced buyers use to intimidate entrepreneurs who are going through this process for the first time.
We are passionate about making sure entrepreneurs get to experience a smooth and profitable sale of their business. From maximizing your valuation through the scaling process, to the final stages of taking it to market, we would love to help you. We offer growth strategy coaching, as well as exit advisory services.
Please contact us to schedule a call where we can discuss your specific needs.