Exit Planning Lessons in Music

As we have highlighted previously, exit planning lessons can be found everywhere. From your favorite movies, award-winning television series, cheesy reality dating shows, and even Christmas carols

We have curated a playlist with a selection of songs about wealth, work, achieving your personal dreams, and building value in your business. Listen to the playlist while you read to fully embrace the exit planning lessons! 

Closing Your Wealth Gap

There are countless songs about working for a paycheck, earning money, and the trials of needing money for your goals. On a deeper level, the singers of all these songs are discussing their Wealth Gaps. Your wealth gap is the difference between your current wealth and the amount you need in order to live the life you want. 

Money, Money, Money by ABBA is a glowing example of an owner’s ability to earn a nice salary from their business while still not having enough to cover their bills, let alone their next act.    

I work all night, I work all day to pay the bills I have to pay
Ain’t it sad?
And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me
That’s too bad
In my dreams I have a plan
If I got me a wealthy man
I wouldn’t have to work at all, I’d fool around and have a ball
Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man’s world

Are you prepared financially for your life after you stop “working all night and all day to pay the bills you have to pay”? 

Takin’ Care of Business by Bachman-Turner Overdrive shares the large presence work has on an owner’s life. 

If you ever get annoyed, look at me I’m self-employed
I love to work at nothing all day
And I’ll be taking care of business (every day)
Taking care of business (every way)
I’ve been taking care of business (it’s all mine)
Taking care of business and working overtime, work out

While you work to make a living to support yourself and your family, is your business valuable enough for you to thrive in your next act after your exit? Or will you be “Taking care of business, every day”?     

9 To 5 by Dolly Parton relays the story of a business professional who has worked their way up the corporate ladder to ultimately own their own business.  

And it feels so fine to build a business from your know-how
Gonna move ahead, and there’s nothing that you can’t do
When you listen to that little voice inside you

While owning your own business provides you with your share of freedoms, without knowing your next act goals, you are not set up to properly close your wealth gap and your business could still be “all taking and no giving.” 

Working To Build Value in Your Business to Sell

A business owner works through the Five Stages of Value Maturity to identify, protect, build, harvest, and manage the value in their business before and after exiting. By building value, an owner thinks about their future while building a significant company in the present. There are a number of songs that describe the feeling of successfully reaching your goals that mimic how an owner feels when they successfully exit their business. 

One Moment in Time by Whitney Houston shares the impact of planning for your future and reaching your goals in and outside of your business.   

I’ve lived to be
The very best
I want it all
No time for less
I’ve laid the plans
Now lay the chance
Here in my hands

Exit planning is simply a good business strategy, and in a successful business there is “no time for less.”

Don’t Stop by Fleetwood Mac emphasizes the importance of planning for your future.

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

By implementing a forward-thinking mentality in your business, you will be prepared for your future and the future of your business. Because as you know, “It’ll soon be here.”

Ain’t No Stopping Us Now by McFadden & Whitehead highlights the benefits of knowing where you want to go after your exit, even if you do not think you will leave your business for a long while.

I know we’ve got, a long long way to go
And where we’ll end up, I don’t know
But we won’t let nothin’ hold us back
We’re putting ourselves together
We’re polishing up our act!

By having a deep understanding of your business and personal goals, you can better prepare yourself for your life after your business. Even if you have “a long long way to go” until your business exit, by planning for your future, your business value improves as well. 

Decentralize the Owner from the Business

On average 30% of our lives, or 25-30 years, is spent working. Business owners, and in particular, Baby Boomer business owners, spend even more of their lives working. Do you understand the risks associated with a business that is completely dependent on the owner? There are quite a few songs about the personal risks associated with being too focused on your business. 

Busy Man by Billy Ray Cyrus discusses the impact of overworking on your personal life.  

Busy man
There’s a woman in the bedroom crying
Saying I thought we had plans
You say honey I’m sorry I’ll make it up
When the job slows down and I’m not such
A busy man

According to Forbes, “nearly one quarter (23%) business owners take fewer than two vacation days annually”. So while you may be a “busy man” or woman, by failing to take time away from your business, you harm not only your business value but your personal relationships as well.

Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin continues this lesson in understanding the importance of having a balanced personal and business life. 

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away

How much time do you spend at work currently? Is your personal and work life in a state of unbalance? In an owner-centralized business, the organization is so dependent on the successes of the owner that if the owner takes time away from the company, the value diminishes.  

Vienna by Billy Joel encourages owners to slow down and consider taking a break from their business. 

Slow down you crazy child
Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while
It’s alright, you can afford to lose a day or two (oooh)
When will you realize… Vienna waits for you?

Decentralize yourself from your business. Take “a day or two” to relax and “practice” what your life will be like after you exit your business. You will see what you like to do away from your business and will see how effective your team is at managing the business without you. This will build value in both your business and your personal life. 

Exiting Your Business 

When a business owner exits their business, it is the culmination of their life’s work at that point in time. By successfully transitioning their business, they also transition to a new phase in their life: one independent from their business. 

The concept of a “new beginning” is quite popular in music. Here are a few of our favorites that mimic an owner’s possible experience post-exit. 

Independent Women by Destiny’s Child highlights the success an owner can feel after selling their business. 

Tell me how you feel about this
Do what I want, live how I wanna live
I worked hard and sacrificed to get what I get

Being a business owner does not come without its sacrifices. After exiting your business, an owner follows their personal plans to have a successful next act. They are free to “do what they want, and live how they wanna live.”  

Applause by Lady Gaga shows the impact of exiting your business on a personal level.

As a business owner, you have likely spent most of your life in your business. When people think of your business it is synonymous with you. Any acclaim for the business was therefore acclaim for you personally.   

I live for the applause, applause, applause
I live for the applause-plause, live for the applause-plause, live for the-
Way that you cheer and scream for me
The applause, applause, applause

Without a detailed plan for your life after your business, you might not know who you are apart from your business. In retirement, so many aspects of successful owners’ lives change. They go from being the “Who’s Who” in their respective industries, to “Who is that?” seemingly overnight. They “live for the applause” and accolades that came with their business. Many business owners are not prepared to address these changes and suffer an identity crisis. Being a business owner was their entire life, and now that part of them is gone.

The Climb by Miley Cyrus highlights an owner’s passion for creating and building a significant business after their exit.

Our 2021 New York State of Owner Readiness Report indicates that 58% of business owners plan on investing in another business, 36% plan to buy another business, and 32% plan to retire.

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move

The traditional retirement mindset of exiting your business and spending the rest of your life relaxing on the golf course is not the case anymore. With more owners exiting their businesses earlier in their life, the drive to start another business, invest in an organization they are passionate about, or serve on the board of a company is higher than before. Owners desire to make a contribution towards an end goal. They see “another mountain and wanna make it move”. Going back to work offers them an outlet to do so.  

Did we miss any of your favorite songs with exit planning lessons? Let us know!