Benjamin: Start with the end in mind on your new business |

Benjamin: Start with the end in mind on your new business

John Benjamin
For The Tribune

Congratulations, you've just started your business. Now figure out how to successfully exit your business.

Yes, now is the time to prepare your succession strategy. Stephen Covey says you need to start with the end in mind.

What is succession planning? The goal is to create an exit strategy that prepares your business to be run by someone else. And that provides you with a sizeable return for all of the blood, sweat and tears that you have invested in your business.

Set an income goal for your business. How much money do you need your business to generate to have the lifestyle you desire, now and in the future?

Set a goal for how many hours a week you want to work in the future.

Set a goal for the age you want to be when you achieve your reduced week schedule.

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Decide if you want to build a business your children will take over or if you want to sell.

Having answered these basic questions, you are ready to start on developing a strategy.

The first element is to create two organization charts. One chart will be what your business will look like in the future. Include all the departments you think you will need to effectively run your business in the future.

The second organization chart is what your business looks like today. Now, put names into the organization chart that are filling these roles. Your name is probably in many of those boxes. Now imagine your business six to eight months from now. Which "box" do you want to have someone else manage?

To effectively have someone else takeover a "box," you need to document what this box does and how it is done. Yes, this takes time and energy. However, if you want a successful business you need to have good documented procedures. Starting at the beginning is the best time to do that.

Now make a plan of which boxes you want to exit and by when.

Documenting your business and getting in the habit of it now creates immeasurable future value for your business. These processes become the instruction manual for your business. If you plan to sell your business, your potential buyers want to know how to run the business. This one simple habit will generate a considerable increase in the value of your business and make it easier to sell.

One area that is often neglected in this process are your marketing tactics and any development processes that you have. This is the secret sauce to your business.

Taking time to document your business now is one of the best investments you can make.

— John Benjamin is the founder of the Business Engineering Consortium, a company that supports the business re-engineering efforts of a variety of companies. Send John an email with your comments and questions and maybe they'll appear in a future column,