Should I tell my team I'm planning to exit?

"If they know about your plans, it is bound to be a massive distraction from their work, trying to second-guess the various buyers and outcomes."

David Blois | Co-founder | M&A Advisory

What do you think of the advice: "You should tell your team that you're planning to exit?"


I am a great believer in keeping employees informed about proposed changes in the business. In that way, you can keep them onside, enabling them to contribute to the journey. However, there is one big exception to this: when you are planning to exit. Employees have very little control over the founder's exit. If they know about your plans, it is bound to be a massive distraction from their work, trying to second-guess the various buyers and outcomes. Some members of the team may even become unsettled and leave the business.

Would you give this advice to business owners?


It depends... 

If not, what alternative advice would you give to agency leaders?


I would advise business owners only to tell their senior team of their proposed exit. During the exit process, management and employees must remain focused on delivering the forecast profits—the less distraction, the better. The ideal time to tell employees is when the deal is close to completion, and the new buyer can present an exciting vision for the future.

In David Blois' opinion: These are the most important things to consider when planning your exit...


When planning an exit, there is a whole myriad of things to consider, so it is best to start as early as possible. Some of the key ones are as follows:

  • As a founder, you are running a people business, so what you want to do personally and when you want to do it is a significant consideration. For example, do you want to sell up and retire, or do you want to become part of something much more powerful, perhaps with some trailing equity that can be realised later? Consider also what the business needs from the sale. What attributes would an ideal partner bring?
  • It is essential to have robust financial systems so the business is well-controlled and the buyer can be confident of what they are acquiring. Strong financial management is crucial and should be in place immediately after commencement.
  • Develop a second-tier management team to demonstrate to buyers that the business is not too reliant on you post-sale, particularly if you are planning to leave the company. Again this can be achieved over time – ideally by recruiting and developing more junior people to take on senior roles. Making last-minute senior hires is a higher-risk strategy.
  • Choose a good advisor who can provide you with a genuine buyer choice. Don't consider selling to the first buyer that comes along – there are always others who may be a better fit and bring a higher value. Many business owners are flattered by the direct approach from a buyer and exclude other opportunities often to their cost. Despite the business being the founder's most significant asset, I often wonder if they would sell their house using the same method.

David Blois' bio

David is a founder and Managing Partner of M&A Advisory, a niche boutique that initiates and executes M&A transactions with an excellent cultural and business fit to maximise value. The firm focuses on the global marketing communications, digital and Martech sectors. With a strong research ethos, it works from a central London base for all client sizes. M&A Advisory is the exclusive M&A partner for the PRCA and is part of Eaton Square, a global M&A firm.

David is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA) and a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. After several financial and business management positions in the UK and overseas, he became part of the Plc Corporate Finance team at Reed Elsevier, helping shape it through acquisition into a global information business. David then joined Saatchi & Saatchi as Commercial Director Eastern Europe, where the company gained market leadership through a merger. Before establishing M&A Advisory, David completed UK and international transactions as Director of Results International, a London-based advisory firm. For further details, please see the website or email David directly [email protected]

Humble promo of David Blois and M&A Advisory


I say this to agency founders all the time. If you're going to go down the road of an exit, make sure you have some really solid advisors around you. Equally if you are acquiring a business for the first time, I highly recommend having someone on your side who's done this a few times. David is the person you want to speak to. He has seen through countless M&A deals successfully. Beyond his experience, David is also straight talking and is good at setting expectations. I highly recommend working with David and his team at M&A advisory, because of his strong negotiation skills and being well connected globally.  

Daniel (Polymensa founder)



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