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Are You Thinking Ahead To Your Exit Strategy?

next-stepHow’s your audience based business coming along? Are you beginning to build engagement? Are you beginning to see a plan coming together like the A Team?

These are exciting times indeed on the newest frontier of business (society, even) and you’re on the cutting edge.

Does that ever make you take a breath, step back and think a little? Did you imagine ten years ago what you’d be doing today? When I took this picture six years ago I had no idea I’d be doing this.

Turn it around: have you ever wondered where you’ll be ten years from now? Things change so rapidly, in ways we don’t anticipate. Forks in the road, dead ends and new opportunities appear out of nowhere all the time.

Success

Now, imagine yourself twenty years from now. Odds are you will succeed at what you do. But how will that success look? New customers, new offerings?

There will be more. It’s funny how it works, but it’s true universally: the more successful you are, the more the excitement morphs into a grind. The thrill of the chase gives way to hassles with personnel, taxes, cash flow, competition and, well, you get the picture. Even if you enjoy what you do, there are days when it might feel a little old.

What will you do then? Are you thinking ahead towards your exit strategy?

The Next Step

You should be. No matter how much you enjoy what you’re doing, there comes a time in everyone’s life when you want to do something different. That could be brought on by success, failure, circumstances or simply “I’m ready for something different.”

Whatever you do, you’ll always be faced with one question: what do I do to make ends meet? Be they big ends or little ends; they always will have to be made to meet.

Big picture: there are only two sources of income available to anyone:

  1. income from a job or business
  2. income from investments

Yes, it really is that simple. Someone suggested that can’t be all: what about, say an inheritance? Well, can you make a living off of an inheritance? Answer: only if you invest it. And there you are: back to that little list.

When you look at successful people all around you, almost everyone progresses from #1 on that list to #2. There are exceptions like Steven Jobs who worked till he died, but that was because he died young. If you’re into success stories from Northern California, John Madden and Joe Montana are more likely your role model… and they’re living, yep, you guessed it, off their investments.

What Does This Have To Do With Me?

Right now you’re probably going “Whoa! Slow down, big fella!. I ain’t dead or retired yet!” And you’re right.

But here’s the thing: investing is not an overnight affair. If you’re thinking, “Well, I won’t worry about that now. I’ll just have ‘someone’ do it for me,” think again. Do you want to be one of those victims who trusted “someone” and they, not you, ended up living in the Bahamas off your money? You want to plan your own business exit strategy – and the sooner you prepare for it – the smoother and more lucrative it will be.

When you think of the term “successful people,” what’s the unspoken key attribute of that success?

The end game.

Consider Javon Kearse. He was a defensive player in the NFL. His nickname was The Freak, because of his unusual combination of speed, size and skill. He achieved every form of success in his profession. Yet Mr. Kearse recently filed for bankruptcy, less than five years after earning $45 million in the preceding decade. Would you consider that a success story? Probably not.

Like it or not, it’s the end game that either seals or wipes out our success. And, no matter what you do, whether you’re a football player or audience based entrepreneur, your career will not be a true success unless you are at least moderately successful at your end game.

And your end game is… investing. It is for everybody, from movie stars and athletes to business executives like Bill Gates. The truly successful ones are the ones that don’t mess up the end game, investing.

Not Me

Should you think that investing is something you’ll only need to think of when you get the money, evidence is not on your side. By far the majority of lottery winners are broke within five years. The lottery doesn’t select poor planners as its winners; those winners are people like you and me. The unfortunate reality is anybody unprepared for investing when they get money lose it. It’s human nature. You or I are no different, and we ignore that caution at our own peril.

If you’re like most people, you probably cringed at the first thought of “I have to become an investor.” Don’t worry, that’s normal. We all shy away from the unknown, that’s just human nature. That’s normal. What’s smart is crossing that barrier of unfamiliarity and getting comfortable with a guaranteed part of your destiny.

Good News

Good news: investing is (a) not all that hard, and (b) doesn’t take that much time if you do it right. Millions do it successfully every day.

However, it’s not an overnight thing. It takes time to get comfortable with the concepts and disciplines of successful investing. It’s like when you first started with WordPress. At first everything was strange, but now you know what plugins and themes are and you move right along without spending too much time on them. Same with investing. All it takes is a good guide and some exposure.

Whether you’ve ever articulated it or not, your financial goal is probably something like “being comfortable.” However, what you may never have considered is that “comfortable” usually implies living off income from investments.

Danny’s website attracts only people who want to succeed. While you’re at it, take a little time to consider your end game.

This is your opportunity to start learning about investing in a low key way. This isn’t a high-powered endeavor; you can easily do it in the background while you work your butt off getting your main business to where it needs to be.

At some point you will transition to your end game. Getting ready for that will take some time. Fortunately you have the time, and fortunately it’s low-key, so it won’t distract you from your main agenda.

In this new world of which you are a pioneer, success may hit you sooner than you think. (Danny’s been at it not much more than two years.) The smart thing is to start getting ready for your next step now.

That way, when you’re able to invest, the notion won’t scare you, and you can transfer the success of what you’re doing now to investing and get comfortable, really comfortable.

Doesn’t that sound good?

About William Cowie

William watches the slow-moving economy for fast-moving businesses through his Four Season Strategy website.

14 thoughts on “Are You Thinking Ahead To Your Exit Strategy?

  1. Sounds great to me William! Excellent post, i love this “…and getting comfortable with a guaranteed part of your destiny”, I interpret that as a smooth path to carving out investments in your passions, as they become more and more clear throughout experience being gained.

    I know my major vehicle of investment will be further online business development projects, but as I always get stuck, working IN my current businesses instead of ON them more and more, plans for the “The next step” get buried in a google doc i can’t find the link to anymore…

    I will use your post as my outline plan, to get the blueprint down and then think about the potential of outsourcing, or saving my pennies and applying more elbow grease. Thanks for sparking the plan in my head and making sure no more rust collects on my ideas

    Matt

  2. William,

    Unusual post considering the site theme but very well founded insofar as reminding people the ‘future’ is as close as tomorrow!

    Your absolutely right that our own financial futures are our own responsibilities to plan for and even manage!

    Great wake-up call!

    Thanks!

    TJ

  3. William, I’m blushing:

    Even if I am very much aware of the reality of death as well as retirement (as I spend time every day creating support for mature women who have lost their spouse), and even if I live alone and am 58, I haven’t quite considered what my “end game” would be. Well, I had, but that’s later, not now…. 😉

    Thank you for explaining to me whyI need to prepare for that next step now. Your blog looks like one of the only ressources of the kind that I would be interested in exploring. I just signed up… 🙂

    In appreciation

    Halina

    • I’m honored, Halina. I think you speak for many when you say investing is something best left for “someday.” But the best time to learn about it and get comfortable with it is BEFORE you arrive at the place where you need to make decisions.

  4. Alright, alright… I suppose I’ve avoided considering my “end game” fairly well and yet, here comes someone saying to snap out of it much sooner than later. I do have an accountant whom I trust and swear that “someday” I”ll have a truckload of money for him to help me with. But after doing my own taxes this year (and hating every minute of it, swearing that I’ll never do it again), I did make some helpful observances that made me realize that even though financial work makes me want to yell at strangers, it’s entirely in my best interest to suck it up and get involved anyway. So thanks for the reminder- better a reminder than a wake-up call.

  5. Great post, William! Investments are the key to the passive income lifestyle that so many people seek and what originally got me interested in this industry.

    I actually started off with the book Unfair Advantage by Robert Kiyosaki, which is an entire book dedicated to making smart investment decisions and shortly after I discovered the power of making a passive income online.

    I think recognizing the limited time man has on this earth and living by the philosophy “life is for living not working”, plays an important role in pushing people to think into the future.

    Too many people set the end game as retirement and follow the rest of the crowd in their investment decisions, but if you want to live an “extra-ordinary” life, you’ve got to think outside the box.

    Thanks for inspiring people, and getting people to be more accountable about the lifestyle they want to lead and their future endeavors.

  6. Yes, Coco, I hear that a lot: “I don’t like working with numbers!” In that way, I guess investing is like brushing teeth: not a fun thing to do (and you have to do it EVERY SINGLE DAY!) but the alternative is even more painful. And so it eventually becomes second nature.

    That’s really the point: getting familiar with the concepts is the first big hurdle. (Mom! Do I REALLY have to brush my teeth? Every single day???) But eventually familiarity combines with the force of habit and before you know it, you’re a millionaire.

    My neighbor Jim worked an ordinary job all his life, making ordinary money. But he’s a millionaire now… only because he started early and just kept at it. He made many mistakes along the way, but the “just kept at it” part eventually wiped out the effects of those mistakes. He’s no financial expert and isn’t that interested in investing. He just brushes his teeth every day, so to speak.

    Of course, all the marketing people say brushing teeth is too unpleasant a metaphor to use in public. Find something pleasant, they say. Anybody have a better analogy? I’m all ears! 🙂

  7. Hey William, what a wake up call this post was for me. My significant other and I were actually having that discussion about lottery winners last night and ruminating about what we would do differently if one of us were to win. Your post got me to thinking to myself, what am I waiting for?

    To win the lottery, so to speak?

    That’s impossible since I don’t even play but, there are so many things that I (and many of us) “invest” our money in that promise us a bigger piece of the pie: coaching programs, e-books, online courses…. Maybe it’s time to start taking even just a little bit of that extra earned income and socking it away for a rainy day. Thanks

    • Interesting you mention lottery winners, Hermine. Someone we know pointed something interesting out two weeks ago:

      After 20 years, 90% of lottery winners end up where they were before they won the lottery.

      Most millionaires who lost their businesses or fortunes end up being millionaires again before too long.

      The point: what you believe inside determines your destination/destiny.

      And succeeding in your end game starts with a conscious realization that:

      (a) Hey, I need to do that
      (b) Hey, I CAN do that, it’s not that hard
      (c) Hey, nothing stops me from biting the bullet and starting right now!

      And it starts with learning, getting comfortable with the notion of investing and its nuances.

  8. This came at such a great time! I have been wondering how to invest but it seems so overwhelming. I have no idea where to start or where to invest. Just signed up for Will’s Bite the Bullet Intro to Investing video. Looking forward to it!

  9. I completely agree. My husband and I were fortunate enough to realize early on the investing is really the way go. Saving money (even in a high yield account) just doesn’t cut it anymore, because those funds won’t keep up with inflation. That’s why we’ve already invested some of our money in things that can give us cash flow in the long run.

  10. William, excellent post to get people thinking.

    The first post in your Bite The Bullet Investing Intro is written with clarity for anyone that has no idea about finances and investing. I will presume that the rest of the series is wrote in the same manner which is a good thing for people that are just starting out trying to create their nest egg.

    People tend to always want the “shiny objects” when they do come in to some extra cash rather than taking some of that cash, investing in something, then having the investment grow more cash.

    It is nice to see that someone is coaching people to start out small and learn the basics of finances. Just skipping that daily visit to the coffee shop and saving the few dollars one would spend there can add up pretty quickly. A person then has a little nest egg to invest that will grow with time. I look forward to reading your future posts in the series.

  11. Frankly, I think the idea of investing is exciting, because the only way I can invest is if I have something to invest WITH, in other words…I have to have made some money. And isn’t that the goal with our businesses?

    Several years ago I started reading David Bach’s books. In fact, I’ve bought “Automatic Millionaire” for my kids when they graduate high school.

    I wish I’d had the information in these books myself twenty or thirty years ago. I’d be a millionaire by now. But this kind of information (and the tools recommended therein) weren’t available to the “average” American back then (think how recent the Roth IRA is, for example).

    I really don’t think the subject of investing is that difficult. Not if you avail yourself of the information and resources that are so readily available these days. And the old adage, keep it simple, I think applies to investing as well. Diversify into funds that have low fees, and make regular contributions. And if you’re self-employed (and live in the U.S.) and don’t have a Roth IRA yet, get one! Funds that are based on your projected retirement year are great for a Roth…takes care of all the figuring for you. If you have more money to invest after maxing out your Roth, then again, go for the funds that have low fees and diversify your portfolio among a half a dozen funds and you’ll do great (IMO).

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