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The Founder Exit Business Model

May 24, 2021

This is for you if you want to start, scale and exit your business and walk away with freedom of time, money, relationship and purpose, plus reinvent yourself in the process.

One of the things I've noticed in meeting with thousands of founders over the years is they get to a point in their lives and businesses where they're just DONE.

Done with government bureaucracy, employees, HR, talent and an ever-increasing hostility towards business and founders. (Can you tell I’m a little biased?).

On one hand, they want to stay active but they'd love to simplify their lives, reduce stress, maybe sell what they’ve built and “take some chips off the table”, have fewer moving parts and spend more time expressing themselves. 

An evolved human goes through FOUR phases in life;
from being a human DOING,
to a human KNOWING,
to a human BEING,
and then a human EXPRESSION. 

Let’s talk about Founders and Exits.

We’ll get into the phases of:

  1. Preparing for an exit (so you can get acquired)
  2. What happens next (your reinvention + next half of life)
  3. Different exit models. (There are a few that I've been experimenting with that are super exciting, especially for founders.)
  4. Multiple ways to get paid (I came up with 7 different ways for one guy I talked about in this interview)

If you’re a founder and want to learn how to exit your business gracefully and profitably, Listen and Watch.


In my opinion, Dan Sullivan lives in the world of human expression. In other words, he’s in his genius zone pretty much all the time and has built his life around it. 

He has worked with 10s of 1000s of business owners, founders, and entrepreneurs over the past 30 years inside of Strategic Coach.

Before Dan started Strategic Coach, he was a one-on-one coach. In those days he wasn’t thinking about an exit… all he wanted was to find an ENTRANCE and was using multiple credit cards just to get by.

He decided to look at the coaching business in the broadest sense of the word; Self Improvement.

It seemed to him that there were two distinct models. One is the “guru” or “dancing bear” model. This is based on personality and platform. Think Tony Robbins.

The other is scalable. This is where you're teaching a system that other people can teach. (In Dan’s case, it's as a system of thinking from an entrepreneurial perspective. How you think about your complete life from the standpoint of freedom of time, money, relationship and purpose.) 

Dan says he was born without the “celebrity chip” and had NO interest in being a “guru” but he was born with a keen interest in observing how people think about things that can be translated into thinking tools that other people can coach. So both temperamentally and from a strategic standpoint, he decided to focus on the teaching system model.

He ended up building a company that evolves as he evolves and leaves behind a tremendous amount of IP (intellectual Property). 

When it comes “exit strategies,” I have studied and talked to hundreds of business owners and here are the consistent themes going on inside their heads;

Number one is, “I don't feel like I'm making an impact or that I’m valued in my own organization.” 

Number two is, “I'm an expert and I’ve figured out how to overcome big life and business challenges. I know my experience will help people but how do I get my message out there to people that need my help? How do I go big? How do I grow an audience?”

It's a longing and a loneliness. (You know the old saying, “it's lonely at the top.”) There's intellectual loneliness and financial loneliness, but there's also that SOUL VALUE. It's hard to put your finger on but it comes back to purpose.

In coach language, “how do I create lasting impact?” 

Number three is, “I've evolved as a human being and want to express myself creatively and be valued for who I am versus what I do or know. This isn't about me anymore. I have all the money I need. I want to make a difference.” 

I've found the easy way to transition someone out is to give them this idea; While your business is running itself or while you’re making a transition, find four to 10 people that you wish you could work with or could have helped but weren’t able to because you were too busy.

Then I always recommend creating a blended business model where you charge fees but it has to be enough of a fee that it makes them uncomfortable to ask for it. I usually have them start around $100,000 – $250,000. 

Once you start that conversation you open up possibilities and it forces them to really examine their unique abilities or superpowers and that's what you're selling. This is where folks get uncomfortable because they've been practicing their old “touchdown pass” for 30 years instead of living into what they've evolved into.

Dan and I connecting in our Zoom Studios

From an entrepreneurial standpoint, you have to have a different definition of what “exit strategy” means. Think of it like, you have maximized the value that you're getting out of your present stage of growth and now you're getting ready to exit into a bigger stage of growth.

Here’s where to go Listen and Watch the entire episode.

See you on the inside.

If you like powerful conversations with strong opinions, and elevated answers, head over to and scroll down to leave us a message, rate, review, and share! 

After you listen to the interview, leave me a message and let me know what you think of this episode OR ask a question you’d like Dan or me to answer in an upcoming episode!


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