Exit Advice from “Exits – Traps and Triumphs” CEOs

Well, the CEO panelists for “Exits – Traps and Triumphs” at Drexel did not disappoint the audience one bit.  Jean Anne Booth, Founder and CEO of UnaliWear, Paul Litwack, CEO of Axcentria Pharmaceuticals, Gerie DiPiano, Chairman, President and CEO of FemmePharma Healthcare, and Lars Bjork, former Founder and CEO of Qlik Technologies each came with lots of war stories woven into practical advice for each of the future exiters attending.  Best of all was their crisp and engaging interaction among themselves that brought out the length, depth and breadth of their personal and their companies’ exit experiences.

Among the rich treasure trove of gleaned advice was what they said about the process, and what “wear and tear” can hit the CEO and their team during their exit journey.  Some of these were:

  1. Selling your company, or even just exploring your exit options, must be kept quiet and limited to only the upper echelon of your team. Why?  Well for one, tipping your intentions could make key people leave early and unexpectedly.  This can stress the prevailing atmosphere of the company, distract and adversely impact performance, and put pressure on your valuation as well.
  2. The exit process is long. It takes a lot of time away from running the company.  The engagement with buyers runs six to nine months with another four months for the “final dance”.
  3. It takes a very different and special skillset to organize and run the sale than from running the business. You and your team are already heavily tasked with your daily responsibilities.  Engage an advisor who is business savvy, solid, experienced and trusted.
  4. Do lots of homework on your own company so you know everything. Then do deep due diligence on the buyers.  Knowledge protects your interests.
  5. Different CEOs and their companies have different desired outcomes: some want to keep everyone employed; some want to simply cash out; some only want to leave and retire; and so forth. Be honest with yourself and know what you want as your outcome.
  6. When doing acquisitions (someone else’s exit), remember and employ these actions too.

So while this exit and acquisition market stays positive, pursue your goals, keep these points in mind, and find your “Google moment” or your “grab for growth”.

About Jack Warnock

Jack Warnock is an M&A pro and a consigliere to CEOs who are growing or exiting their businesses. He will ensure that the outcome is optimal, the best value is achieved, and the transition is smooth, all while you and your team continue to effectively do your day job. Jack is a trusted resource with proven knowledge about how companies work; how ownership changes; how to buy businesses; how companies are sold; and how owners win.


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