MF 165 : Tim Fulton on Moving Forward with Small Business Matters and the Exit Strategy
Updated: Jun 17, 2022
Tim Fulton is an entrepreneur turned small business consultant. Today, Tim will share why an exit strategy is one of the most critical steps to planning or starting a business.
Successes at a glance:
Serial entrepreneur with over 30 years of business experience.
Acclaimed small business coach and consultant.
Founder of Small Business Matters.
Author of several books on small business.
Tim’s story starts with his teenage years. Tim had an innate curiosity about the different ways of making money, whether it was delivering newspapers or selling bumper stickers. This drive led Tim to study economics and later, pursue his MBA. Unlike many of his classmates, Tim opted not to go work on Wall Street or for a big bank. Instead, Tim decided to go the small business route, moving to Florida and starting several retail businesses. First, Tim opened and grew a tire and automotive business. He later sold that business and started a travel agency which he grew and later sold as well. Tim continued on this path of opening-growing-selling small businesses. And in case you’re wondering, Tim didn’t have extensive experience in the subject areas before starting these businesses. What Tim discovered along the way, was that he really enjoyed talking with and listening to small business owners; sharing the benefit of his wisdom and experience. This is where Tim discovered his big why.
Tim’s big why:
Tim’s big why is working as an executive and small business coach. Tim spent many years in the trenches as a small business owner and today, he’s mentoring business owners and teams of executives on everything from growth strategies to the all-important exit.
Biggest challenge today:
Tim’s biggest challenge is managing time and priorities around the business and where he can be most effective while balancing family and personal time. A macro challenge is that fewer small businesses are starting so Tim is doing everything he can to encourage more people to start businesses of their own.
Moving forward past that challenge:
Tim focuses on priority rather than time management. This allows Tim to be more selective in how he manages his time commitments.
The exit strategy:
Tim reveals that this is one of the most important steps to take that most business owners miss out on when starting a business. We spend so much time planning and executing our business but few give any serious or critical thought to how to exit the business.
The most important question: what will you do after exit. Tim shares this shocking statistic that the average lifespan of a CEO after exiting a business is 17 months. This is because going from having an all-consuming business be such a huge part of your life to all of a sudden not having anything to do (other than where you’re having lunch that) is a shock to the system.
Exercise: Assume your business will close in 6 months (a healthy death), what would you do over those next 6 months?
Get rid of a problem employee?
Get rid of a problem client?
Get rid of excess inventory?
The exercise forces you to think about those problem areas in your business and confront them now as opposed to later.
Favorite tool or productivity practice:
Google Alerts: helps Tim keep up to date on clients, colleagues, and competitors.
How Tim is moving forward today:
Planning his sabbatical: Tim has made it an annual practice to take 4-6 weeks off every June-July and advises all of his clients to do the same. The first time you do this is very scary but Tim has found that it’s healthy and important for the business owner and the business. It prioritizes your physical and mental health and forces you to create systems so your business can run and grow without you.
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Who is Tim in five years?:
Tim hopes to be a grandfather and travel more. One of Tim’s biggest passions is traveling, both here and abroad. Moreover, Tim wants to spread the word about entrepreneurship and the joys of small business ownership globally. Finally, Tim wants to continue inspiring his clients to live happy, fulfilling lives, both in their businesses and beyond.
“Find happiness. For a long time, I was certain that the road to happiness was success in my business; that if I could find success, if I could make more money, if I could sell more widgets, that happiness was right around the corner. It took about 25 years of experience to find that I got the order of those wrong. Happiness needs to come first, I need to find happiness first and if I’m able to achieve that, success will follow.”