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Business Exit Planning with Chris Snider

George Grombacher May 18, 2023

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Business Exit Planning with Chris Snider

LifeBlood: We talked about business exit planning, why so few business owners fail to get value out of their businesses, the process for creating a successful transition, and the main areas to focus on, with Chris Snider, Founder and CEO of the Exit Planning Institute, speaker and author.    

Listen to learn how to increase your business’ value exponentially!

You can learn more about Chris at Exit-Planning-Institute.org, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Chris Snider

Chris Snider

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
I’m left with is George G and A time is right. welcome today’s guest strong and powerful Chris Snyder. Chris, are you ready to do this?

Chris Snider 0:08
I’m very ready.

george grombacher 0:09
All right, let’s go. Chris is a SEPA. He is the founder and CEO of the Exit Planning Institute. His newest book is walking to Destiny 11 actions in owner must take to rapidly grow value and unlock wealth. Chris, I’m excited to have you on tell us a little about your personal life’s more about your work, why you do what you do?

Chris Snider 0:30
Well, thanks, George.

Well, you know, I guess the way I would describe it is

I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for more than 40 years now. I have two children, I have four wonderful grandchildren, that keep me pretty busy. And bring a lot of different joy to my life. Now these days. From from a work standpoint, the as you said, I’m CEO of the Exit Planning Institute, and author walking to Destiny, as we were talking right before we came on the show here, that is a project. This is the second edition of walking to Destiny, the first one written in 2016. And as I said to you, before we came on your, you know, things change, and you learn a lot over over seven years, and the market has changed quite a bit. And I know a lot of feedback on different things to add to the book. So over the last year, really, since last March, I’ve been working on the second edition of watching destiny, which is supposed to come out in May. So we’re really excited about that. And then, you know, the work, as far as the eggs planning is the basic premise of the book is to help business owners rapidly grow value of their businesses, and unlock the wealth that’s trapped in them, making them five to 10 times wealthier. Now, that sounds like a pretty worthy cause when you think about it. And the reason for that is that about 80% of business owners wealth is locked in their businesses. And only historically, only about 20 to 30% of them are able to unlock that well. And so when I got into this industry, you know, I was just blown away at the thought that someone would work, you know, most of their adult career, building a business, the sacrifices that go with that the hard work that goes with that, and then came, you know, then comes the time to check out and reap, you know, the rewards, and you can’t do it. There’s roughly, in today’s American businesses, there’s over $18 trillion of wealth that is locked up in privately held businesses. And so when you think about it, it’s like, man, that’s just, that’s just wrong. And we have to do something about that. And that became, for me, a real passion, you know, and I really purchased the Exit Planning as to 2012 Got my credential in 2008 Started my consulting company in 2006. And that’s been my passion ever since.

george grombacher 3:15
I love it. Those are those are scary, and very, very compelling statistics. You know, I imagine, that’s certainly why I am in business for myself is because I want to control my own destiny, and you do that blood, sweat, tears, everything else into it. But then you don’t, then you kind of leave it up to chance. And you’re like, Well, you know, we’ll see how things work out. Instead of being prepared. It’s crazy.

Chris Snider 3:40
Yeah, and that’s, you know, that’s really the thing that I think people need to realize is that you don’t have to leave it up to chance, there’s actually a process, right, that you can use, where the probability is the complete opposite. And that’s kind of what was kind of an aha moment for me, because even though historically, you know, 20 to 30%, of business owners are not able to harvest their wealth. In my experience, in my firm, I’d say my clients were the exact opposite. I’d say 78%, I’d even push the number to 90% of my clients were successful. So that’s the first thing I’m like, well, am I just qualifying my clients better? Or, you know, is it maybe more of the process that I’m using, or maybe a combination of both? And so I decided to dig into it, to find out. And what I ended up doing is not studying the 70 to 80%, that were not successful, but studying the 20 to 30% that were, what were they doing, you know, was there some formula that they were using to help them navigate this personal journey and be successful at the end of it, you know, with the harvesting of their wealth. And what I found is that there were common characteristics among those owners. And so that’s basically it. came the premise for walking to Destiny, you know, my own experiences plus the experiences of studying these other successful business owners. And what I found is that there is a step by step process that can be used to put yourself in a position not only to harvest your wealth at the at, you know, at the at the right time, but can add value today can create a better life today you don’t, it’s not a trade off. Like I always say value acceleration is a multiplier. You know, it’s not an either or you can have, you know, wealth in the future. But you can have it today, too. And so that’s really the beauty of what we teach at epi. And in teaching the certified Exit Planning advisors, and what I write about a walk that destiny, it’s really a step by step guide that a business owner can use.

george grombacher 5:50
Well, that certainly makes sense that you’d want to dig into what’s what’s the through line, what’s the commonality between the folks that are actually able to have a successful exit. And I think it’s exciting that it can be a value accelerator, and multiplier, rather, instead of just having a trade off, we think about, I have to make sacrifices today for something into the future. But that’s not necessarily the case.

Chris Snider 6:14
The biggest change, I think we brought to the industry. So when I got into the industry, first of all, I was one of the first 100 CEOs in 2000. You know, when I got through and through the program in 2008. Today, we have 5000 CEOs, you know, so we’ve grown quite a bit. And, you know, it’s, it’s when I got into the industry, it was all about creating this plan for the future, right. And if you’re a business owner, so you as a business owner don’t want plans, you know, we want action we want and we want results today, we’re not going to wait, we want results. In fact, yesterday, we’re not going to wait, you know. And what I realized is what was happening is we’re treating Exit Planning as a separate thing, from business strategy. And that really, when you look at it, it’s the same thing, the very things you would do to build a thriving business, are the same things you would do to build a business that’s positioned to exit. And rather than treat them as two separate things, let’s integrate them, let’s take these Exit Planning concepts, and integrate them into the way we run our businesses every day. So it’s not something I do down the road. It’s something I do today. And I can benefit from today, right? So the whole idea was, let’s forget about the future, let’s just focus on what we can do today to build a strong business. You know, we call it being present tense. And it will deliver benefits right away, while also positioning you to sell at a premium or transfer to your family or to your employees, whatever you want, it’s going to create options for you. But the biggest thing is back this whole thing up, let’s think about what we could do right now in the next 90 days.

george grombacher 7:56
That makes a ton of sense. I mean, it’s very human, to want to look at things in vacuums and pump blood metallized things, but then we really know if we really think about it, it makes way more sense to take an integrated approach, and to make sure everything is fitting together. And just what popped into my head is if I decided that I wanted to leave my business, or have my kids take over, I’ve got some employees, and I let them know that today versus waiting 10 years, that’s probably going to have a huge impact.

Chris Snider 8:26
Huge impact. I mean, my son works for me, or he actually is my partner, I should say. And he’s we named him president in 2021. And he’s, you know, he’s taken the company places I couldn’t even take it right. He’s doing a marvelous job. I’m very proud of him. But the thing is, is people gotta realize is that I mentored him for 10 years, you know, he started his first business at 17. He’s now 37. He joined my consulting company back in 2014. Or back in actually 2009 or 10, I think. And then I put him in, I asked him to take over at epi in 2014. But the mentoring process to build a successor, you know, really was a 10 year journey, you know, and again, that’s why if owners Wait, you’re not going to have the time. Plus, you know, what, a lot of owners don’t realize it 50% of business owners are forced out of their businesses, due to one of the what we call one of the five DS you know, death, divorce, disability, distress or disagreement. And I can even tell you from a personal standpoint, George, I’ve been affected by four of the five DS in just the last three years. You know, divorce is the only one I haven’t been fighting, you know, 40 years and counting. But these things happen, you know, and you You’re on a roll. You know, epi was growing at a 42% compound annual growth rate going into 2020 when the pandemic hit, and then the next thing you know is, you know, all these things started happening. And I look back and I say, Thank God, I had done the things I needed to do to prepare my son to take over the business to prepare my staff, to who could run the business without me and things like that the right kind of contingency planning the right kind of estate planning. Because, you know, the outcome could have been completely the other way. I mean, last year, we were up 66%. So we’re doing very well again, but we had a little bit of a rough ride there. And if we hadn’t been prepared, it could have been much different.

george grombacher 10:46
Yeah, I don’t doubt that for a second. So I wrote down art and science, data and emotion, hard and soft. I, because we have to know our numbers, but then there’s also the feelings. Yeah.

Chris Snider 11:02
Yeah. So one of the things that I do talk about, I think, is the most intriguing part in my book for business owners is this concept of the four C’s. I call them the four intangible capitals. It’s clearly I’m gonna write probably a book just about that at some point. But the four C’s are human customer, structural, and social capitals, are many owners don’t realize is that 80% of a premium business’s value is tied to the intangible assets of a business, not the tangible assets, right intangible assets. And most business owners don’t measure those intangible assets, they feel them, you know, what business owner doesn’t want to come into the office or come into the factory, and doesn’t want better talent doesn’t want stronger customer relationships, doesn’t want better systems and processes or a better culture, right? So they think about it, but they don’t intentionally and deliberately manage it. And the thing about it is, you can actually define those characteristics, we call them value factors. And you can measure those value factors. And if you can measure them, that means you can manage them, right. And two of the big factors are human, and social. So human is really the talent that you have inside your company, right? The knowledge and not just pure knowledge, but the knowledge of how to apply what you’ve learned, right, that’s where real learning curves, and the grit, like, for example, my team, they’ve got a lot of grit, you know, I tell you, when times get tough, they got to knuckle down, you know, they can knuckle down and make things happen in a fast way. But then there’s the other, you know, so that’s the knowledge. The other part of that, though, is the social capital. And I would say social capital, which is your culture, is probably the most significant of the four C’s, but you can’t have social capital unless you have the other three, right, because the other three drive that, but once you build social capital, or culture, your company is at a point where it doesn’t even need you any, you know, it’s running on its own. The culture is being developed, and, and built and evolved by the people in the company. And, and that’s exactly what you want. Right? So that’s where, you know, having empathy, and I call it, you know, socially Q, right. Understanding of the mechanism of a company, a company is a huge, like, a living, breathing thing. And so yeah, you’ve got to have that, for that company to be successful. That’s what brings that vibe, you know, that when you go to companies that have strong cultures, you just know it when you step inside the office, that there’s something different about them.

george grombacher 13:53
Yeah, I think that we can all 100% identify with that. We’ve probably worked in great companies that are great companies that have great cultures, and we’ve done the opposite. Have you experienced with terrible, so it is easy to recognize, but it’s actually quantifiable, and it is quantifiable, then I can manage to it I can recognize when it’s deficient and look for different interventions to try to increase it.

Chris Snider 14:19
Yes, exactly. It’s them. That’s what I don’t think a lot owners understand. That’s why I created value acceleration methodology is value acceleration measures, your intangible assets helps you manage your intangible assets. And if that’s where 80% of your value is, isn’t that where you should be putting at least 80% of your time, right. But most business owners don’t have systems that measure that most accounting systems were established through the economy back in the 1950s. If you looked at a balance sheet, where do you see intangible assets on the balance sheet? You don’t. All you see is equipment, tangible stuff, right? And most of that’s written down So there’s nowhere on a balance sheet that you see this intangible value of the company. When you look at a company’s income statement, does the income really reflect what the owners truly making? Usually the answer is no. Because the income has been written down to avoid paying taxes. No, I’m not saying those things aren’t important, right? They are important. But that’s not where your real value. And so the awareness, that sort of aha moment for for business owners is, you know, what, you can actually I can actually measure this stuff. And as a result of being able to measure it, I can put programs and actions in place to actually transform the company. And and those actions will position you for the future. But they’ll also make you better right now. Right? Because if you’re have better talent, you know, better relationships, better processes, and better culture. I would I would bet on that company that to outperform the other that doesn’t have those things.

george grombacher 16:00
Oh, there’s no doubt. So the SEPA certified Exit Planning advisor, I imagine, well, seems obvious that they need to be pretty well versed at being able to help business owners tap into that and, and accentuate and pay attention to that 80% of intangible capital.

Chris Snider 16:21
Great. Yes. The the SEPA program was actually created in 2007. By my predecessors, Peter Chrisman and Richard Jack, I became a SEPA myself in 2008. I was in the third class. A couple years later, they asked me to be on the board. And a couple years after that, they asked me if I’d be interested in buying the company. I had started the first chapter, and I had launched the first national conference for them. And as I said to you earlier, I became very, very passionate about changing these outcomes for business owners, I knew it could be changed. And we could, we would change it. But what I decided to do, instead of going directly with businesses, I still hate every now and then handle a business owner, you know, or consult with a business owner, that doing a lot of that anymore. Because I’ve shifted my attention. Once I bought EPI, to training other advisors, who then go out, I felt like to really get the most leverage out of the success that I had, it would be by training other advisors on how to do this, you know, because each one of those advisors is working with 10 or 15 clients. And we get a lot more and a lot more leverage, if I could show them what I was doing. And then they could then take that out to their clients. And so the certified Exit Planning advisor credential, which is a week long course, that’s taken by financial advisors, CPAs attorneys, any commercial bankers, any advisor, that would be working with a business owner, while they own their business, and in the process of exiting the business, you know, so you have m&a people, you have employee stock ownership people. So it’s a, what makes epi sort of unique is this broad, multidisciplinary team that comes through the program. So not only do they learn the technical sides of the value acceleration methodology, they also learn about a little bit about estate planning, they learn a little bit about financial planning, they learn a little bit about Aesop’s and m&a. And what we do is we end the week really teaching them how to work well as a team. Because with so many different people involved in this process, you know, working as a team is paramount, you know, so they have to learn how to do that. And most advisors are not good at that, you know? And so that’s, that’s, that’s why we end the work now, you know, have all the knowledge, how do we actually work together to make this experience is for business owners so much better, right?

george grombacher 19:00
That makes a ton of sense. You need to be the greatest advisor in the world. But if you can’t actually put the thing into practice and get it done, then you’re not doing any good for anybody. So I appreciate that. Chris, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with the Exit Planning Institute and where can they get their copy of walking to Destiny 1111 actions it owner must take to rapidly grow value and unlock wealth.

Chris Snider 19:27
The easiest thing to do is just go to the website there’s tons of information that not only you find out about the book, their walk into Destiny, but there’s also tons of information that that you can find in that website is exit dash planning. Dash institute.org www exit dash planning dash institute.org Pretty much what you see right behind me.

george grombacher 19:50
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did, showcase your appreciation and share today’s show with friend who also appreciates good ideas go to exit a dash Planning dash institute.org Check out the great resources. If you are intrigued in the conversation that Chris and I have been having check out this SEPA certified Exit Planning advisor designation and get to work in helping to solve this massive problem that’s existing of business owners working so hard and they’re not getting value out of their business and pick up your copy of walk into Destiny on the side as well. Thanks, Chris.

Chris Snider 20:28
Thank you, George.

george grombacher 20:29
And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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