Preparation vs. Execution

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted a blog entitled “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.” Really. Try searching up the article.

The author took note of the rise of zombies in pop culture at the time, which he said “… has led many people to wonder ‘How do I prepare for a zombie apocalypse?’”

It turns out that getting ready for an invasion of flesh-eaters is not unlike preparing for a hurricane. Putting together an emergency kit of food, water, and other supplies will get you through the first few days of either occurrence, according to the CDC. Which, of course, was the tongue-in-cheek point of the CDC brief in the first place.

When it comes to selling your business, you won’t need to set aside a gallon of water per person per day or stock up on flashlight batteries. But you really should prepare. And that’s what we tell you how to do in this chapter. Pay attention – your financial survival may depend on it.

Preparation vs. Execution

Which is more important – preparation or execution? 

As with most skilled endeavors, preparation makes execution look effortless. Considering that the sale of your company may be the largest sale you ever make in business, it’s foolish to neglect preparation and potentially leave hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars on the table. Unfortunately, few business owners thoroughly plan their exits by giving this major life decision the thought and attention it deserves. 


The lion’s share of entrepreneurs have a strong bias toward action. Once they decide on a course of action, they prefer to dive right in and figure things out later. But you must realize that a lack of preparation will extend the time frame of the sale, reduce the selling price of your business and the cash you put in your pocket, and lower the chances of a successful sale. 

No two exits are alike. Each exit should be planned. There is no templated process you can follow to prepare your business for sale. Rather, the preparation stage involves reviewing a number of steps, prioritizing those steps, and then taking action on those steps.

Preparation makes execution look effortless.

In this chapter, I will offer general strategies to prepare your business for sale. 

When I am approached by a potential client, we prepare an assessment, which includes a customized exit plan or strategy for that business owner. But in the absence of a custom plan, you can follow the general guidelines outlined here.

If you are willing to take the time to prepare your business for sale, be sure the firm you hire can assist you before you begin the sales process. This exercise is formally known as “exit planning.” Many business brokers, M&A advisors, and investment banking firms are heavily biased toward action and prefer to put a company on the market and sell it as quickly as possible. They may not be as concerned with maximizing the sale price and doing the hard work necessary to ensure a successful exit. Be sure whoever you hire is willing to help you in the preparation stage.

If you aren’t intending to spend time preparing your business for sale, then be honest with your professional advisors. I, for one, am accustomed to selling businesses in urgent circumstances or when the situation isn’t ideal. I appreciate any business owner who is upfront with me regarding how much time they can invest in getting their company ready to be put on the market. 

When talking with your advisor, it’s important to be honest regarding your expectations, the condition of your business, and your level of preparation. Your advisors will eventually learn the truth in any event, so it’s best to level with them from the start to maintain a relationship based on trust throughout the process.