“If you don’t know where you’re going you might wind up someplace else.” ~Yogi Berra

Isn’t planning great?  Some folks seem to spend their time writing stuff down and never really doing anything.  While others write what they just did on a To Do list so they can cross it off.  Yogi’s quote above is often paraphrased as “if you don’t know where you’re going, you certainly aren’t going to get there.”

Eventually (meaning NOW!) we have to take action.  This is the third RiskSmart Tip in the Exit Planning series (see Transitions and Exit Stage Right ).  Here are 10 specific Action Steps that are a continuation of last month’s Checklist.

Action Steps .  Work on these key pieces of your business while planning.

  1. Review your finances – personal and business to clarify your future needs. Consider fee-only financial planners (see Certified Financial Planners ) and don’t forget tax planning.
    • This exercise needs to be kept up to date, and will impact your decisions about goals – for example, can you afford to give the business away?
  2. Decide on your goals.  Will you just close the doors (because no one else can do what you do), gift the firm to friends or family, or sell – either to employees or to a third party?
    • Clarifying this step about target recipients or buyers impacts how you grow, diversify and develop your employees for the future.
  3. Grow your business!  Use every trick in your success book to move forward, trim fat, and get the best people on board to improve both your top and bottom lines.
    • This seems obvious, but it’s easy to get lost in planning or stuck in “unmotivated.”  Keep close to an advisor or two who will relentlessly urge action here
  4. Diversify customers and suppliers – create a broad, solid foundation for your business future.
    • This not only increases your present success and profit, regardless of your goals in #2, it also impacts the salability of your business in the future.
  5. Develop leadership and cross-training – remember your “Long Vacation” plan from the previous tip?
    • Maintain your “Operations Manual” with guidelines for all key processes.  And you must develop trust in your employees and not micro-manage or do everything yourself.
  6. Create a succession plan – again this allows that vacation!
    • Focus on roles and responsibilities for teams and individuals, and backup people for each key process.  Test them with small responsibilities now to watch them grow and gain confidence.
  7. Interview and choose Advisors.
    • This is an on-going action step to always having the right, objective professionals helping you succeed in all areas.
  8. Learn about business valuation if you want to sell.
    • Understanding the hidden complexities of this technique will guide you to increasing your strategic value for any target buyer.
  9. Manage your risks.
    • Identify your biggest risks and new issues coming down the regulatory or legal road; be pro-active and invest in safety, quality and prevention.
  10. Repeat!  Go back to number 2 above.
    • Update annually and tweak your Action Steps!  Set aside ½ day every month to review progress and revise your To Do list.