Even if you don’t plan on retiring or selling your agency any time soon, developing an exit strategy is still something that should be on your to-do list. You can think of it like insurance. You don’t think you need it, and you don’t really want it, but you’re really glad you have it when it matters.
Should something unexpected occur in the near future that requires you to make a sudden departure, an exit strategy will make the process significantly less stressful.
But without a strategy, exiting your agency can be an unnecessarily taxing and complicated process.
In this guide, we’re going to work through a list of steps you can take towards developing a simple, legal, and easy exit strategy from your agency.
Steps for Exiting an Agency
If you’ve got no idea where to start with creating a sound exit strategy, don’t fret. It’s a fairly straightforward process that you can accomplish by following this guide.
#1. Assess the Situation
Say, for instance, that you have decided you want to exit your agency as soon as possible.
What is the first thing you need to do?
Look around and assess the situation from a calm perspective. This will help you determine what the timeline of your exit process will look like.
- Determine if you have legal obligations – You may be contractually obliged to remain in your position until a certain date. Find out if this is the case.
- Consider upcoming projects – Are there any ongoing projects you are obligated to complete? You won’t be able to leave until they are accounted for.
Developing a basic understanding of your legal or work-related commitments is the first step you can take towards exiting your agency.
#2. Discuss with Your Team
- Inform teams of your plans – Host a meeting and inform them of your plans.
- Assess the impact on teams – Discuss how your exit will affect them in future. Will they be getting a new agency director? Will their day-to-day workloads change? Will the office be relocating?
- Update contracts – Your team’s contracts likely corroborate with your own. Reassess and update them if necessary.
- Ensure you stay on good terms – Having a main employee depart the team can cause some internal stresses. Make sure your team understands your reasons for leaving and let them know how much you appreciate their flexibility.
#3. Develop an Exit Strategy
Now that your legal affairs have been sorted and your team understands what is going on, you can step into the next phase of your exit: developing a clear strategy.
- Put together a transition plan – The transition of you moving out of your current position may cause some changes around the office. Determine what those changes will be and create a plan for how you can streamline the transition process.
- Create a formal resignation letter – Regardless of what your position on the agency team is, it’s important to draw up an official resignation letter for legal clarification purposes.
- Exchange contact information – Leaving your contact information with relevant team members and clients are important for managing the final exit process details and just keeping in touch with people or businesses you may have grown close to.
- Identify clients to refer – Some of your clients may want to change agencies when they find out there is an exit strategy in place. Make sure to provide them with fair referrals.
#4. Inform Clients
Clients deserve to know that major changes are about to take place. Exit processes can cause some stalling and clients may want to shift the direction of their plans for an upcoming project.
- Notify clients of departure – Send out a newsletter well in advance that provides clients with clear information about the departure in question, and how it might affect them.
- Arrange for transfer of clients – Any of the clients that belong to you as an individual may want to transfer to wherever you are going next. Communicate this with them and arrange an easy way for them to be reassigned to your new position.
- Negotiate contracts for the transition period – The contracts you currently have in place may need to be revised or re-negotiated before the exit occurs.
#5. Clean Up Your Office
Now that the bulk of the administrative tasks has been completed, you can start working on the practical elements of exiting your agency. Cleaning up your physical office is a great place to start. If you work exclusively from home, this step may not be necessary.
- Return all equipment and supplies – Make sure you return all of your equipment in good condition and wipe any personal files off devices.
- Remove all personal items from the office – Photographs, kitchenware, random bits and bobs – all of them need to depart alongside you.
- Check for any unpaid invoices – Make sure you neither owe nor are owed anything relating to your agency. Leave with a clean slate.
- Follow Up on Documents
There’s always a lot of paperwork involved with exiting a company. Make sure you leave a clean trail behind you before you leave.
- File final taxes – We all know how important it is to have a clear tax history. Make sure you are not incurring any additional tax or leaving any bills unpaid before you move on to the next part of your career (or personal life).
- File paperwork – Find out if you need to file any state-specific paperwork to stay on good terms with your local government.
- Retrieve all records and paperwork – If you’ve been working in a physical office, there is undoubtedly some paperwork lying around which is relevant to you. Don’t leave it behind.
An Exit Doesn’t Mean the End
Life is full of unexpected occurrences. From something unwelcome as a health scare to an exciting new career opportunity, there’s no way to know what the future may hold.
Having an exit strategy can put your mind at ease by knowing that you have options should you need them.
An exit strategy is a totally normal and important plan for any agency owner to have in their back pocket. Hopefully, these steps can help you create your own if you have not yet done so already.