As part of my personal development plan at EKSiT, I’ve set a lofty goal for myself in 2018: I want to run a half marathon for the first time. And by run, I don’t just mean finish; I mean I want to get it done in a half-decent time… because, for those who know me personally, I tend to be a little on the competitive side. I’ve registered, organized my travel plans, and began training a couple of months ago. It’s happening in October, and there’s no backing out now.

If my training thus far has taught me anything, it’s this: we are what we are. And what I currently “am” is not in very good shape. I found that out quickly. I didn’t like finding that out, but if you’d asked me prior to beginning this journey whether I was in good shape, I knew the answer, but would have made excuses for myself like: “I work a lot” or “I have three young kids”, before I would have admitted the truth. I think that as human beings we tend to avoid situations that may tell us something we don’t want to hear, even if subconsciously we already know the answer. It’s like going to the doctor for your annual physical, or stepping on the scale at home. Finding out what we are (or aren’t) and where we currently stand in the relative sense can be frightening. So, we typically just don’t put ourselves in situations where that’s possible.

Many business owners are keenly aware of the imperfections in their business, but choose not to look at them too closely – much the same as how you might know you have a few extra pounds to lose, but choose not to step on the scale to confirm that thought. Where this becomes problematic is the relativity of it all. Let’s jump back to the half marathon for a moment. Finding out I wasn’t in good shape wasn’t earthshattering (or generally problematic) for me, but it became a concern relative to me being able to complete a half marathon. The same applies to business owners with the imperfections in their business and its relative impact on their value and subsequent retirement goals.

If I had said to you that subconsciously I knew there was no way I could complete 21kms because of the shape I was in, but never took to training because I didn’t want any confirmation of that fact, you’d call me an idiot and I would deserve the pain I’d feel after kilometre number 6. Similarly, a business owner suspected they would have difficulty extracting the value from the business that they both wanted and needed, but chose not to find that out until the moment they were prepared to leave. Is that so different from my lack of marathon training?

It’s for this reason that at EKSiT Strategies, we believe it’s absolutely critical that business owners take the time to assess where they currently stand – even if they don’t plan on exiting the business anytime soon. Even though they might not like the answer, the more time they have to impact change, the better. Then they can decide what areas need improvement that will drive the most value within their desired timeframe, and constantly be creating value and a more saleable entity.

Nobody wants a surprise at the end of business ownership. Business owners can proactively work to avoid that surprise just by finding out what their business looks like today. If it currently supports their end goal, great! And if not, they don’t have to panic, because they will still have the time to do something about it.

… just like how I still have two more months to figure out how I’m going to run 21 kms. Wish me luck!

Trevor Greenway

Trevor is the VP & Director of Client Services at EKSiT Strategies. He maintains close contact with our clients and guides them through the planning process to discover their exit options and develop a clear path to help them achieve their ideal outcome.