Jeff Bezos just announced he’ll be transitioning out of his role as CEO of Amazon. He’s one of several high-profile leaders who have made similar announcements. Intel’s Bob Swan and Dollar Shave Club’s Michael Dubin (yes, the guy in the commercials) have also made similar decisions. In the media industry, a number of editors and executives are stepping down, too – among them Steven Adler, the editor-in-chief of Reuters, and Marty Baron, the executive editor of the Washington Post. Word has it Jeff Zucker will exit CNN by year’s end.
As these leaders realized, there’s a season for everything – and it’s better to move onto the next chapter on your own terms, not someone else’s. Planning ahead is a big part of that. Bezos can step down with confidence because his successor, Andy Jassy, has been shadowing him at meetings for years, building a strong foundation for putting his own mark on the company and soaking up every detail of how he runs the company. There’s nothing like going out on top with your chosen successor on hand to take over.
Many of the clients we serve at Marcum are also giving some thought to their future, given the year we’ve just been through and recent indicators that the economy will improve this year. Some are starting to transition to the next part of their lives and are eager to work on their exit plan. Your exit plan, an essential business strategy, is just as important as any other part of your business. A good one will maximize your company’s value, make sure you are personally and financially prepared to exit the business and take into account your plans for the next act of your life. Having an exit plan in place can ensure a smooth transition once you decide to leave your leadership role.
Other clients plan to work for as long as they can but want to make sure that if anything unexpected happens, they’ve got a viable succession plan in place. Others are already starting to transition into the next part of their lives and are eager to work on their exit strategy.
If you’re among them, there are many, many things to take into account when you make a move like this. Often, for middle-market CEOs, their teams are like their families – or actually include their families. They want to make sure their company doesn’t just survive but thrives after they leave. Some, like Jeff Bezos, want to stay involved, but in a more limited capacity, focusing more on strategy than day-to-day management.
They’re also concerned about the return they’ll get on their investment in the business. Often, it’s their most valuable asset, and they want to make sure they can live the way they want in retirement and give back to the community and the charities that matter to them.
It’s never too soon to start thinking about things like this, even if you’re decades away from retiring. With the economy coming back, many companies are going to see sales ticking up and their business valuations improving. Buyers are going to be looking for acquisitions. Owners who’ve been toying with stepping down may find the opportunity comes sooner rather than later. It’s important to be prepared.
If you need a sounding board, your Marcum professional is here to help you think through all of the angles. No matter how much you love your business, there’s a big world out there outside of it to enjoy. And with the world opening up again, you may be eager to do that.
Stay safe, stay healthy and remember, we’re all in this together!