15 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Deciding on an Exit Strategy

Posted June 22, 2016

YEC

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

 

1. Trying to Exit as Fast as Possible 

Kim KaupeEntrepreneurs can get so excited about how quickly they can exit that they fail to look at the big picture. The mantra of start it, pour gas on it, and sell it fast isn’t always the best strategy. If Mark Zuckerberg had taken the first offer he received for Facebook, he wouldn’t have nearly as many zeros in his net worth. Take time to look at the big, long-term picture before selling fast. – Kim KaupeZinePak 

 

2. Not Understanding Cash Up Front Versus Earnout 

Nick ChasinovA buyer will often need the entrepreneur to stay on after the sale, which will dictate the payment terms, typically in the form of a performance-based earnout with future upside. Committing to an earnout with performance-based triggers that are out of your control can be catastrophic. Once you relinquish ownership you are not in charge, so it is critical to negotiate the cash up front. – Nick ChasinovTeknicks

 

3. Issuing the Wrong Types of Shares 

john ramptonEarly on in business you will decide on the types of shares that are issued. This can ultimately sink or swim your business into an exit strategy. Make sure you’re issuing the correct types of shares to founders, employees, investors, advisers and anyone else getting shares so that you don’t screw yourself out of an exit strategy. – John RamptonDue 

 

4. Giving Into Pressure From Others, Like Investors 

Peter DaisymeWhile investors do have a say in your exit strategy, it’s a mistake to just give into pressure from others when deciding on an exit strategy. Often, those pressuring for the exit are just looking for that fast return and not considering the health or benefit for the business. Waiting a bit longer for a better offer could even yield more return. – Peter DaisymeDue 

 

5. Taking the First Offer 

Murray NewlandsThe first offer may not be the best offer for your business. It’s easy to get excited and just say yes to the first bidder. A “wait and see” strategy is better as word gets around that someone is interested in your company. This may generate better offers and drive up the demand. This also gives you time to further study the offer. – Murray NewlandsDue.com 

 

6. Looking Only at the Money on the Table 

Andrew ThomasThere’s more to an acquisition than just the check you receive. This acquirer will now have control over your product, customers and brand. There’s also a great chance that you’ll be working for them the next couple of years. Avoid the mistakeof just selling for the money. Consider your mission and ask if this company will help you enhance your ability to reach the goals you set for yourself. – Andrew ThomasSkyBell Doorbell 

 

7. Not Understanding What Drives Value 

Mark DaoustI see many entrepreneurs spend a lot of time and energy building their companies in ways that add little to no value to their business. Worse yet, many plan for an exit but implement strategies that actually hurt their value. When planning your exit, keep in mind four principles: reduce potential risk, demonstrate growth prospects, make it easy to transfer and make it easily verifiable. – Mark DaoustQuiet Light Brokerage, Inc. 

 

8. Focusing on an Exit From the Start 

Jennifer MellonBuilding a company that is built to last, one you could still be running 40 years from now, is the greatest exit strategy you can implement. If you build a great company, the rest will fall into place. Focusing on an exit can lead to mistakes, sloppy processes and a faulty foundation. – Jennifer MellonTrustify 

 

 

9. Not Hiring a Banker 

Kristopher JonesThe key to getting multiple offers and the highest price for your business is to hire a banker. A banker or broker will have the requisite experience to prepare you for a road show, help you schedule dozens of meetings with prospective buyers and help you negotiate term sheets. Furthermore, once you decide on a buyer, the banker will help you through a successful due diligence process. – Kristopher JonesLSEO.com 

 

10. Over-Valuing the Business 

Nicole MunozIn order to earn the highest profit from the sale of your business, you need to directly correlate your valuation of the company to your book of business. When you prepare to sell, the buyer will not have the same emotional ties to your company that you do. Therefore, supporting the sale with excellent accounting records ensures you receive the full amount you expect for your business. – Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now 

 

11. Not Considering the Lifestyle Factor 

Jesse LearExit strategy plans are typically very money-centered and can fail to account for the possibility that you could end up loving what you do. Ask yourself why each potential exit strategy sounds attractive to you. For example, if your motivation behind pursuing acquisition is personal financial security, will you still be motivated to sell when you’re making a $1M/year salary? – Jesse LearV.I.P. Waste Services, LLC 

 

12. Being Afraid of Talking to “Competitors”

Andy KaruzaMany entrepreneurs are worried about getting close to competitors or even talking to them. In fact, these very same competitors could make for an easy acquisition. If you’re in the process of looking for an exit, start talking to the right people over at your competitor’s company. Don’t divulge critical details, but keep the discussion open at a high level until qualified interest is determined. – Andy KaruzaFenSens 

 

13. Not Thinking Two or Three Moves Ahead 

Doug BendRegardless of which exit strategy you pick, you are likely to go through a due diligence review. It is wise to work with an attorney to go through a mock due diligence process to make sure that all of your legal ducks are in a row before engaging with a potential exit partner, rather than having to scramble to get everything in order once you have found an ideal exit strategy. – Doug BendBend Law Group, PC 

 

14. Viewing the Value of Your Company Through Your Eyes Only 

Peter BonacIt is a mistake to view the value of your company through your eyes only. The true value of your company depends on the buyer, so it is best to view it from the buyer’s perspective. As every buyer will see different values in your business, ask yourself what areas of your company will add the greatest value to that particular buyer and grow those areas to make them more appealing. – Peter BonacBonac Innovation Corp. 

 

15. Not Adequately Training Key Team Members 

Andrew SchrageIf the company falls flat on its face after you leave, the person you’re handing it over to isn’t going to be very happy. Even worse, the transfer of the business may not happen at all if the other party sees this as a risk beforehand. – Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance 

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