Ep. 47 – Bo Burlingham on Successfully Exiting a Business

By Lloyd Graff

Bo Burlingham has spent much of his career writing about the lives of entrepreneurs. I recently interviewed him at his home in the rustic hills of Oakland, California.

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We talked about the need to plan for a strong and successful conclusion to a business career, as described in his recent book, Finish Big. Bo discussed seven factors that characterized owners who had happy exits:

(10:55) You must know who you are, what you want and why.

(11:44) You have to build a sellable business—a business that you could sell when you wanted, to whom you wanted, for an amount you considered fair.

(11:20) You have to give yourself enough time. Most people don’t start thinking about exiting early enough. You need to find a successor, and it takes a long to time to get that right.

(13:15) You have to get the right advice from others who have exited their own businesses in the past.

(13:50) You have to become very clear in your own mind about what you want to have happen to the people in the company for you to feel at peace afterwards.

(14:20) You must do as much do diligence on the buyer as the buyer is going to do on you. You want to find out why they really want to own the company. Otherwise you are in for some bad surprises.

(14:44) You have to figure out what you are going to to do after the exit, who you are going to serve. Bo found that many people after they leave their company don’t know who they are anymore. They no longer know what their purpose is in life.

Question: What will you do after you are finished with your current work?

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3 thoughts on “Ep. 47 – Bo Burlingham on Successfully Exiting a Business

  1. Jeff

    Going to sail to as many islands in the Caribbean my wife & I can hit. Learn about the Catamaran business and help manage some CAT charters in St Thomas. Travel til we get too old to handle it. Invest in the market and plan how we can spend off all of our assets and give the rest away in time for our exit from earth.

  2. fred f

    Just this week I attended a job shop auction and I was floored by the entire event. The auction company wasn’t familiar with machine shop equipment, and the sale was on a Wednesday despite there being smaller manual equipment that would appeal to the hobby machining crowd. The sale was ill publicized. A friend lives nearby other wise I would not have ever heard of it. Prices, and one can imagine were dismal, with older but functioning Machining Centers selling for sub-$500 prices. Boxes of new tooling and hardware sold for $5-10. I felt very bad for the owner.

  3. Rod

    Done it twice now, this time should be the last.
    Mentoring younger people starting there own shops and trying to pass on knowledge that can keep them from falling into bad situations.
    Fishing, Salmon and all the good white fish in Alaska.
    Travel with wife and drinking a little good wine when appropriate along with some great fresh food from the gardens we are growing .
    Keep busy and get physically fit otherwise you can go downhill pretty fast.


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