I have been in consulting for 15 years but am starting to consider about when I leave my firm for other pursuits. I am not ready to start formal exit planning yet but want some simple tips to help me think about the 10-15 years.
There are lots of books on exit planning for consultants but probably the best guide is colleagues who have recently left the profession. Take advantage of their perspectives, each of which will differ depending on their industry focus, discipline and practice management approach.
One way to start your thinking in the right direction is what we generally ask our clients to do (you know, "physician, heal thyself"). Describe your business as if you were going to sell it today. What is your run rate, client contract backlog, proprietary processes, relationships, key staff, reputation in the market, position for new areas of practice, etc. Now, given where your business and marketing plans are aimed, describe your business along those exact same metrics in 5, 10 and 15 years. Are these really where you want to be when you leave your company (either by sale or by just folding up shop)? Tip:
Most of us will resist this exercise because we live in the present and near future. You may well find that your business plans do not connect your current status to these future scenarios. This is the first test of how well your plans will get you to your 5 year objectives. It is simple enough to do, but the simple act of writing down performance metrics for selling the business will change your thinking about the current and possible future value of your business.© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA