By Michael Marks CBI, Fellow Of The IBBA

Plan, plan, plan. That’s what all the consultants and business coaches tell business owners to do. And the banks? They’re really serious about it. And that’s when they were actually loaning money. But many business owners either don’t like to do it, don’t have time, or just put it off. Who wants to create business plans, marketing plans, and especially exit plans?

In this unprecedented economic downturn, it has become painfully obvious that business owners who were thinking about selling in the near future might have missed their window of opportunity for maximum value. Their revenues are down, their profits are non-existent and their businesses have lost value – just like the stock market. And who wants to sell in a down market?

What does this mean for business owners who were planning on selling, but now have to continue to run their businesses? They are in a totally defensive mode. They need to cut costs, lay people off and scramble to get more sales. And what makes all these stressful activities even more difficult? It takes energy – lots and lots of energy. And many business owners find that after many years of running their companies, the energy just isn’t there.

If the spark is gone, then business owners must recognize that the business might continue to decline. Maybe it is time to talk to a business broker about what options might be available. Selling the business now, even at a reduced value, might be better than eventually closing the doors. Sometimes selling the company’s accounts to one buyer and the assets to another may be attractive in this environment. Or in an attempt to increase revenues and profits, acquiring another company may be an option.