Exit Planning Lessons in Your Favorite Television Shows

The landscape of American television spans dramas, comedies, dramatic comedies, and comedic dramas. Once you become a master of exit planning, you begin seeing exit planning topics everywhere. From classic movies to award-winning television shows. Recently, we asked our advisor community for suggestions of their favorite television shows that featured exit planning topics either directly or indirectly. 

Here are a few of their personal favorites. 

Succession (2018- )

Exit Planning Topics: Family Business Succession, Partner Disputes, 5 Ds

It is hard to think of another television show that so vividly captures the issues and turmoil that can arise in a family business on the brink of a transition. Succession follows the Roy family as the children of Logan Roy battle for his approval and ultimately control over the family media conglomerate, Waystar RoyCo. 

Logan Roy is suffering from declining health and his children all believe they should be the heir to the family business. However, Logan has no plans on exiting the business anytime soon. In the three seasons of Succession, the Roy family faces almost every issue family businesses face

Exit planning helps business owners avoid an unsuccessful transition from their business due to one of what EPI calls the 5 Ds. These are: Death, Divorce, Disagreement, Disability, and Distress. Unfortunately for the Roy family, they have experienced almost every one of these concerns. Without a detailed succession plan in place, Logan Roy leaves his children to fight each other for control, which ultimately hurts the business. 

It wouldn’t be an HBO show without drama, and Succession delivers the drama every episode. The majority of this drama is due to a lack of effective communication between the leadership team at Waystar RoyCo. This lack of communication leads to a lack of trust between family members and ultimately harms the value of the business.

Family businesses are bound to have more personal conflict due to the relationship between family members, but when the business is the vessel in which all personal disputes are managed, it does more harm than good. 

Questions to Ask Yourself After Watching Succession:

  • Do you have a detailed succession plan in place for your family business?
  • Are you prepared in case one or more of the 5 Ds impact your business?
  • Are you effectively managing partner disputes in your business? 

Schitt’s Creek (2015-2020)

Exit Planning Topics: Business Advisor Trust, Family Business, Planning Your Next Act

Schitt’s Creek tells the story of the Rose family. We meet the Rose family as their grand mansion is being packed up by the IRS. Johnny and Moira, and their two children, David and Alexis are forced to move to their only remaining asset. A small town, in the middle of nowhere, called Schitt’s Creek. Schitt’s Creek is a heartwarming comedy about a formerly wealthy family trying to survive in adjoining motel rooms. However, it includes numerous exit planning lessons. 

The reason the Rose family is even in this predicament goes back to Johnny Rose’s business manager. The business manager was embezzling money from the Rose account and making numerous other fraudulent actions with Johnny’s money. This experience highlights how important trust is between an owner and their advisor. Also, Johnny’s business manager clearly was not the best, because he allowed Johnny to buy a town as a joke for his son, David.

The Rose family did not have a plan for their lives if they lost their money. Frankly, because they never believed they would need one. However, failing to plan for your personal and personal financial needs outside of your business will lead to an unsatisfying next act.

However, as the Rose family grows accustomed to their motel life, each member of the family learns how to live their life to the fullest in Schitt’s Creek. They began focusing on building their individual interests into brands instead of thinking only about money. Johnny gets investors for a chain of motels to utilize his years of experience running a successful business, Rose Family Video. David uses his expertise in luxury and retail space to begin Rose Apothocary in town. Moira Rose returns to her acting career and with the help of Alexis as her publicist, is offered larger roles.

Schitt’s Creek focuses on the importance of making the most out of your next act. Not everyone is looking to retire after exiting their first business, and having a plan in place for your future helps you thrive in the present. 

Questions to Ask Yourself After Watching Schitt’s Creek:

  • Are you prepared for your personal and financial life outside your business?
  • Do you have a trusted business manager and a team of advisors?

Ted Lasso (2020- )

Exit Planning Topics: Leadership, Working as a Team

Ted Lasso embodies every quality that makes for a successful leader. This award-winning television show features Ted Lasso, a former American college football coach who was hired to coach AFC Richmond, a Premier League team, by the owner Rebecca Welton, in a spiteful attempt to ruin her ex-husband’s team. However, instead of harming the team, Ted brings a more optimistic atmosphere and a positive leadership style. Ted highlights the importance of working as a team while recognizing each individual’s contributions.

Effective leadership can present in many forms. The strongest leaders understand there is always room for growth and they should not know everything. Ted represents this idea throughout each episode. While he has coaching experience, Ted is unfamiliar with the rules of soccer and does not hesitate to ask for help from his supporting coaches, equipment managers, and players. Ted understands that just because someone is not in a leadership role, it does not mean they do not have valuable ideas to offer the team.

Having the right people on your team vastly improves your chance of success. Ted Lasso highlights the importance of a collaborative team that values trust over personal successes. With the culture of trust built in the AFC Richmond team, Ted fosters a positive work environment for all players, coaches, and ownership. 

Ted Lasso has been a positive force both in television and in the business world. Ted sets examples followed by his supporting coaching staff. Business owners can use these examples and see the impact a strong yet kind leader could have in their organization. 

Questions to Ask Yourself After Watching Ted Lasso:

  • Do you trust every member of your team? 
  • Are you utilizing effective leadership tactics in your business?
  • Do you show your appreciation for key players on your team and in your business?    

Shark Tank (2009- )

Exit Planning Topics: Business Value, 4 Intangible Capitals, Ownership

Since its premiere in 2009, Shark Tank has given budding entrepreneurs the chance to secure funding from the top investors in the United States. Shark Tank features a panel of investors, “sharks”, who hear pitches from entrepreneurs in a variety of industries. The main investors featured on the show are Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec, Kevin O’Leary, Mark Cuban, and Lori Greiner. 

The entrepreneurs featured on Shark Tank must have a deep understanding of their business value in order to improve their chances of securing an investment from the sharks. Those with detailed valuations of their businesses with the metrics to back it up have the most success with the sharks. Failure to understand your business value and potential for growth limits your attractiveness to potential investors and buyers. 

When organizing a pitch presentation for investors, business owners must highlight the strength of their intangible capitals as well as their revenue and sales. The sharks know the value of strong intangible capital, especially the entrepreneur’s structural capital. Without presenting the detailed and scalable systems in their business, the entrepreneur fails to show the investors how their business could grow with additional funding. 

One of the most common reasons an entrepreneur on Shark Tank does not get funding is their lack of research into their customer base. Generally, this involves not having a market for their product or service. The strength of your customer capital depends on your ability to entangle your customers with your brand. 

As a business owner, it does not matter how amazing your product is if you are not reaching the right people. Without understanding your target audience, you will not be able to communicate with them in the correct way. Additionally, you will fail to meet their needs, or accept feedback effectively. The sharks know this and are eager to invest in businesses from entrepreneurs who have conducted detailed customer research. 

Questions to Ask Yourself After Watching Shark Tank:

  • Do you understand the value of your business and have you had a valuation conducted in the past year?
  • Have you documented all processes in your business?
  • Are you meeting the needs of your target market?

Did we miss any exit planning lessons in television shows? Share your favorite shows featuring exit planning topics with us on LinkedIn