I see time and time again business relationships ending and ending poorly. When we start a new business relationship, we do look at how things will work whilst doing business with that person or company. We ask about how long it will take to set up, costs of course, how it will work and rarely consider our exit strategy. Here I’m going to look at a few different situations – and yes, some suppliers might be offended at my advice but as an experienced business coach, I’m here to help business owners do business as smoothly as possible. If they are ethical and professional about business, they will see that what I’m saying is actually their standard operating procedure.
So, let’s look at some scenarios, where we look at the exit strategy in mind.
Websites & Hosting
- Be sure they have built the site on a platform which can be transferred.
- Ask the builder to not ‘hard code’ the content which may make it virtually impossible for someone else to edit later on.
- Be sure the platform is that which others know how to use; ie WordPress is global.
- Absolutely ensure that you own the website and its content and images (once it’s paid for).
- Purchase your own domain name; then you don’t have to worry about transferring this.
- Get all your logins upfront and test them yourself that you can get in.
- When it comes to transferring a site OR transferring to a new host, absolutely find out what their process is and how long it will take. I had one business coaching client who terminated and the large media/marketing company dragged their heels for absolutely weeks! But then we shouldn’t have been surprised; that was why they were being terminated.
- Ask about termination periods and for example, if you have to give 30 (or more) days’ notice, will they work in that period? You sure wouldn’t want to pay for three months of service and get absolutely nothing during those three months.
At the end of the day, if they are happy with the service you will absolutely stay. Setting up these questions at the beginning is just you being prepared and sensible. Telling a supplier that you will require all current passwords at the beginning of the relationship is so much better, nicer and easier than when you’re 5 seconds away from terminating that service or planning your exit strategy.
Xero & MYOB files
- If you signup through another person (bookkeeper, advisor, accountant) then ensure there is clarity around the ownership of the file. If you leave them, will they hand over the file, your paperwork, documents and logins?
- Ensure that you have Administrator rights and control of your file.
- Don’t assume MYOB or Xero will hand over control to you – it’s not an easy process.
- Find out at the beginning about notice, policy etc should you need to terminate services.
- Be sure to ask about timing for handover and release of documents AND if there are any additional or special fees in this regard. Again, don’t assume.
Again, most professionals are just that – professional. Once you have caught up on your outstanding invoices to them, they will release these items. However, over 30+ years of experience, I’ve seen one or two professionals not act so professional and take a termination very personally and be somewhat childish about it. Written conditions will hopefully help you in those cases to ease your exit strategy.
Whether an accountant, lawyer, architect, coach, IT consultant or someone else, be sure to find out:
- Notice needs to terminate and any process they might have regarding that
- Time they require to release work, documents or outcomes which you’ve paid for
- Fees or costs additional at time of termination.
Certainly, there are laws around termination – breach of contract, fraud etc, but I’m talking about being prepared so that you don’t have to go down the legal channel.
It’s usually better to work out any outstanding fees before you terminate. You may believe they did only 75% of the job or task. Be reasonable. If 75% was done, then offer 75% of the invoice; but don’t think it’s fair to hold back on 100% of payment. You should give them the opportunity to finish or rectify. Try to leave emotion at the door and be business-like. Once they have agreed to an amount to pay, and you’ve paid that – then you can move onto termination. Having your file or passwords already will make that process much easier and if you need to, you simply remove their login and you can keep working.
For all the above, when you ask these questions, do so in writing. Alternatively, if it’s been a verbal discussion, then dot point outline what was said in writing (say an email) and get them to confirm that by return email, in writing. Naturally, keep that confirmation or email where you’ll find it months or years later. Whilst there are some ‘gentlemen’ around, gentlemen agreements will not hold up in the court of QCAT – you need it in writing or it didn’t occur and wasn’t said.
In all my years of coaching, I know it’s always so easy to comment on this in retrospect and after the fact. The frustration is that we don’t have crystal balls that can predict the future. A positive person will always go into something new with hope and the desire to make it work. However, reality is not always the same. It’s like signing a pre-nuptial agreement; you don’t enter the marriage planning it to fail, but it’s wise to be prepared. People prepare when entering into love; why wouldn’t you be prepared when starting to do business with someone? As the expression goes:
“Plan for the worse, hope for the best and take what comes in between.”
If you need any assistance with any aspect of business coaching, whether you’re based in Brisbane or any part of Australia – give me a call on 0411 622 666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to have a chat with you to see how I might be able to help you. I specialise in service-based businesses – whether that be new, ongoing or growing businesses. My passion is your potential!