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9 February 2024

Finishing well: Navigating the Five Exits from your business

Finishing well: Navigating the Five Exits from your business - The Value Engine

As a business owner, there comes a time when you contemplate selling your business to embark on new adventures or simply to cash in on your years of hard work. It’s a significant step, one that often leads to the question: Is my business truly ready for sale? The answer may not always be a resounding yes, especially if you, as the owner, are the heart and soul of the business.

This is where understanding the “Five Exits” of a business owner, a concept I discuss in my Growth Supercharger Programme, becomes crucial. It’s a transformative journey from being a worker to a shareholder, ensuring that your business thrives even in your absence. Let’s delve into these stages:

Transition to be an employee to manager

Exit 1: From Worker to Manager

The first exit involves transitioning from doing the work yourself to managing the work. This step is fundamental as it involves setting up processes, delegating tasks, and overseeing operations rather than being involved in the day-to-day activities.

Transition to be a manager to CEO

Exit 2: From Manager to Leader

As your business grows, your role needs to evolve from managing to leading. This means your focus shifts from overseeing tasks to setting strategic directions, visioning, and inspiring your team. It’s a move from manager to CEO, where your insights drive the business forward.

Transition to be an CEO to Board Member

Exit 3: From CEO to Advisory Board Member

When things are going well, it may be time to appoint a Managing Director or CEO. Your role then shifts to that of an advisory board member. Here, you provide guidance and oversight without being involved in daily operations.

Transition to be an advisor to shareholder

Exit 4: From Advisory Board Member to Shareholder

As an advisory board member, your final internal transition is moving to the role of a shareholder. This is a significant shift, as your involvement becomes more about investment oversight and less about strategic direction.

Sell the business completely

Exit 5: Exiting the Business

The fifth and final exit is the actual sale or handover of your business. At this stage, your business should be able to operate and grow without your direct involvement, making it an attractive proposition for buyers or successors.

Why This Matters

Understanding and effectively navigating these exits is crucial. It’s not just about preparing your business for sale; it’s about ensuring its longevity and success beyond your direct involvement. Each exit phase prepares the business to function independently, adding to its value and appeal to potential buyers.

Final Thoughts

As a business owner, recognizing these stages and preparing for each transition can significantly impact the success and legacy of your business. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on these exits. Have they resonated with you or impacted your approach to business leadership? Share your experiences and insights below!


This approach to transforming your role in the business is not just about the end goal of selling; it’s about building a sustainable, thriving entity that stands as a testament to your hard work and vision. It’s a journey worth embarking on, one step at a time.

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ben@thevalueengine.co.uk

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