Thursday, September 23, 2010

Are You Ready to Help Your Owners Exit ?

"Education is not teaching people what they do not know. It is getting them to behave as they do not behave."
- John Ruskin

The quote above accurately reflects a very true statement for the emerging field of exit planning. We as professional advisors do not merely need to learn more information about exit planning to address this growing marketplace need. Rather, we need to incorporate these learnings into our practices in a manner that drives value into our business owner relationships. The question today is, 'are you ready to help your owners in this way?'

What Does It Mean to Deliver Exit Planning Solutions?
As this emerging industry grows, it is interesting to see the various interpretations and variations on the term 'exit planning'. For example, someone who sells businesses sees 'exit planning' as working with an owner to make their business more profitable prior to a sale. Whereas someone who sells life insurance sees 'exit planning' as protecting the risks that a business owner faces for which they are currently exposed. And, the wealth manager see 'exit planning' as being able to financially afford a retirement after an owner has left their business.

I believe that 'exit planning' is a combination of all of these items. Therefore, an exit planner - or our Certified Business Exit Consultants - are charged with quarterbacking all of these clients needs, using a system and process that produces consistent results for owners, regardless of each individual owner's specific situation.

Education is Key - Application is Essential
Education is the root from which the fruit of achievement blossoms. This fact is not only due to the content which is presented to the student, but also because of the way in which education helps you to you focus your mind on the topic at hand. The mind that is prepared with exit planning information, systems and procedures is one that is ready to receive new business and to deliver this service in a manner that delivers results to owners.

Without a solid foundation of training and understanding, I find it very difficult to see how a professional advisor can have an in-depth conversation with a business owner on the myriad of topics that are included in a comprehensive exit plan.

The next question, naturally would be 'how long does this take?'

The Onboarding Time
Based upon the hundreds of advisors who have been through our training and workshops, Pinnacle has measured that the time that it takes for an advisor to successfully incorporate exit planning into their practice is, on average, six (6) to nine (9) months.

This means that the average advisor who attends our workshops and/or enrolls in our Membership program begins generating results within six to 9 months. This means that a commitment to a course of study is still accompanied by a concurrent marketing and sales period that is necessary to begin to generate business exit planning opportunities.

What happens during this 'on-boarding' phase.

Phase #1: A Commitment to a Program for Exit Planning Training
The natural first step for a professional advisor is to enroll in a training class or the Membership program (which includes monthly and ongoing training lessons). The most successful advisors make this commitment as they decide that incorporating exit planning into their businesses is the way in which they want to approach business owners. Once the study begins, these advisors grow their levels of confidence in having these conversations on a regular basis with both business owners and other professional advisors. The commitment to the ongoing study program allows an advisor to learn a system, get their questions answered, and then apply their learning to their business owner prospects and clients, as well as to have the conversations with other professional advisors and referral sources.

Phase #2: Assimilation of the Exit Planning Concepts into Your Practice
The 2nd stage of this 'on-boarding' process is the assimilation of the exit planning concepts and messages into your practice. After a number of conversations with owners and other professionals, the average advisor or consultant begins to make this conversation a part of everything that they do. All of a sudden, the conversation becomes a topic of discussion in almost all conversations with business owners.

Our most successful advisors also find a way to present these concepts to audiences of all sizes, giving live presentations of these concepts. Those who make live presentations benefit because the audience sees this person as an expert in the field. Thereafter, because exit planning is still a niche business, the business opportunities begin to flow to that presenter. At this point in time, exit planning is nearly fully assimilated into an advisors practice.

Phase #3: Successful sales of Exit Planning Engagements
The next phase of incorporation into one's practice includes the sales of exit planning engagements. One of the benchmarks that I look to for any service provider who is offering to perform a service is whether or not any clients have ever paid this person to do the work that they are offering to do. This may sound like an obvious statement however I know of many, many advisors who are making claims to offer exit planning services who have never been through a course of study, nor have they ever been paid by a business owner to perform this specific task. Education and proper and professional delivery are the keys to putting exit planning into your practice.

Timing, Timing, Timing
Now to the point . . . are you ready to offer this service to exiting owners? Consider that millions of Baby Boomer business owners are nearing retirement. Further consider that this recession has delayed the timing of their exits, creating a pent up demand for exits. So, given that the next few years of economic recovery will lead to a number of more years of very predictable exit planning needs, the question remains - Are you ready to serve this massive number of owners who need help exiting their businesses?

Begin Today
Begin preparing for this exciting business opportunity today. If you want to expand your service offering to exiting owners while also increasing your effectiveness with owners by generating consistent results for your business, enroll in a course of study today.

Pinnacle has been offering workshops and courses of study for years and have had hundreds of advisors attend with rave reviews.

Take a look at our upcoming events below and consider the investment of time that you make as a small price to pay for a large marketplace opportunity which will drive results in your direction.

October 21st & 22nd, 2-day Workshop in Boston, MA

October 25th - 29th, Certification Course (application

Once you decide to make exit planning a part of your practice, you need to be in tune with the effort that it takes to get consistent results. You want to study and be prepared for this oncoming wave of exiting owners so that you too can participate in this exciting marketplace opportunity.

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit Pinnacle Equity Solutions

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Exit Planning Success Stories

I’ve talked a lot about our training program here at Pinnacle - how we provide our members with the tools and resources they need to incorporate exit planning into their practices. So I thought it was important to show how our members have achieved success, in terms of making money with exit planning, and getting a return on their investment with their Pinnacle membership.

During our last Member-only, Advanced Practice Management Training call, I interviewed two of our stand-out members, Joe Bazzano ( and Kevin Kennedy ( I personally believe that Joe and Kevin are amongst the leaders in the exit planning world.

I often say that a successful business requires a time for building, and both these gentlemen built their practices during this rough recession and are now reaping the benefits of the extensive marketing and education that they did over that time. So I wanted get their perspective and advice on four key points:

  1. The different types of businesses they each run and how exit planning is helping with the growth.

  2. How each market their exit planning business

  3. What mistakes they’ve made in the past that our members can learn from

  4. Specific advice they have for building an exit planning practice.

Your Business and How Exit Planning Can Help Grow Your Practice
Joe, a CPA and Certified Valuation Analyst, saw exit planning as a great opportunity to provide his existing client base with this additional valuable service. Joe explained “I thought it was a bit self-serving because I enjoy doing this kind of work. I’ve been doing it for 20 years in some capacity – helping business owners sell or buy businesses or transition. It also got me in a different perspective in the business owner’s eye. When I talk to them about these kinds of topics, their eyes tend to light up much more then when I talked about their tax return and how much they would owe the government. It also gave me a new way to approach some of the higher-end advisors. Providing this new service added a dimension to my offerings and it’s put me in a different lights with these advisors. It’s allowed me to provide a service that complements theirs, so it not only helps my business but it’ll help theirs as well."

Kevin, a former business owner who sold his business to his management team, saw the demand in the marketplace as he began giving presentations on exit and succession planning based on his experience of exiting his business. “This really motivated me to get a deeper understanding of exit planning because those are the things where I was weak. And that’s when I enrolled in Pinnacle’s 2-day training program. I have to say that this experience helped me understand the opportunity. From my own experiences and mistakes, I saw an opportunity, a large opportunity to help owners with their exits.”

As a professional advisor, Joe saw the marketplace opportunity as well as the chance to offer something more dynamic, interesting and strategic exiting clients. Kevin had a market pull. He saw the demand in the marketplace, got asked to speak and used the education and tools to get out there and build his practice.

Marketing Your Exit Planning Business for Growth

In sharing how they are marketing their practices and approaching owners and referral sources to generate business, Joe explained “One of the first things that I did was create a separate website, a separate company actually, from my accounting practice. I used social media, I got my name out there and did a lot of branding. I’ve also gotten a number of my articles published in various family magazines or small business magazines. And I’ve done a lot of networking. I’ve hit the pavement, talked to a lot of advisors about this whole process and what’s going on in the industry and this need for the business owners. And it’s been very well received by not only business owners, but from the advisors as well."

Since Kevin is not a ‘professional’ advisor, his approach was a bit different. He focused on one thing only – the business owner. “How am I going to get to the owners? So I lived and breathed this and I recognized that since I had no customers it was going to have to be a market pull. I wasn’t going to get on the telephone and start telemarketing. That’s an insult to owners. I had to capture them by having something that they’re interested in, and so what I had to do with market pull was capture names and emails and grow my list. And my approach was speaking, writing and publishing a newsletter.” Kevin began publishing articles and white papers and it gave him credibility. And in the process, built his contacts list so he is able to put himself in front of business owners all the time with his newsletter.

Many of you already have a list of contacts you can use to put your name out there by distributing newsletters and white papers. It’s a great way to educate your audience as well as build your credibility. You just need to write your story and start distributing it so people can read and understand what it is your doing.

Growing Your Practice – Mistakes to Avoid

We learn from others – especially from the mistakes they’ve made. And this learning process is so valuable because it can ultimately save us from a lot of wasted time, energy and money. Joe’s advice is to just “get out there”. He explains, “What I should have done more of was meeting with other advisors, getting out, spreading the word about exit planning and what I was doing. To let these higher end advisors understand that what I’m doing is not just a service for me, but it’s a complimentary service through their existing menu of services that they offer. I should have gotten started soon with networking and more publishing.”

Kevin explains that he was slow in developing his “voice” and advises to do it sooner rather than later. “You don’t have to be perfect in doing this. Take John’s course. I took John’s course and I read the book. I was a very disciplined student and I read all the white papers and I went through all the past articles. In doing just even half of that you already know more than 90% of the stuff that you’re talking with owners about. You already know more than the majority of people right now.”

Get out there sooner rather than later. Start having these exit planning conversations. Distribute your newsletters and white papers. Start educating your audience and develop a follow up system for monetization.

Pearls of Wisdom to Grow Your Practice

Joe advises to "make the commit, the decision to be in this business. You need to educate yourself on a system to use in your practice and then get out there and show off what you’ve already learned. You need to just got out and ask for the business."

Likewise, Kevin advises to “get out of your comfort zone, stretch yourself with all these new concepts and the new learnings and remember that exit planning is new to everybody. And if you’ve been through Pinnacle’s training, you know more already than you realize. And accept the fact that you’re going to make mistakes – just get passed it. Go out early, start your speaking early, writing newsletters, capture your space. Don’t wait, don’t be hesitant and just do it. Read and study on a regular basis. I tell people all the time who contact me about joining Pinnacle, I say, you just have such an incredible library of information, of hundreds of hours of things you can study on your own, beyond the course. You can just fill up your brain with all sorts of ideas, and quite frankly, answer those gaps and questions which you may have about the technical basis of the business. And finally, be authentic. I think your authenticity and enthusiasm will pull more customers than your knowledge. Your role is to get these owners un-stuck in their business, and if you can be excited about that, that’s going to come through and be much more important that the technical part.”

My many thanks again to Joe and Kevin for sharing their “Exit Planning Success Stories”. Both offered similar advice in terms of just getting out there and having these exit planning conversations. This is really what Pinnacle’s message is all about as well as providing our members with the tools and resources to begin having these conversations in order to grow their exit planning practices.

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit Pinnacle Equity Solutions

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Changing Face of Exit Planning

The exit planning marketplace is changing with this new economy. I wanted to provides some insights as to my views on these current changes and how they may assist you with incorporating exit planning into your practice.

Having been in the exit planning field for 9 years, I have a unique perspective on this emerging marketplace. My company, Pinnacle Equity Solutions, not only provides education and training to advisors looking to incorporate exit planning into their practices, we also provide exit planning services for a select few business owner clients as well. And as we are slowing moving out of this recession, I see an increased interest and demand for exit planning services. And not just from business owners, but from advisors as well who want to learn more about exit planning and how it will help them grow their business.

The Marketplace of Exit Planning
There is no better time than now to get into this emerging field of exit planning. Although the economy may be slow to recover, the exit planning business is poised for tremendous growth. Baby Boomers are now coming to retirement age and are beginning to focus on what they need to be doing in order to protect their businesses as well as their wealth. They are 'awakening' to the idea that they need to get their equity out of their businesses.

I have often said that one of the largest obstacles to the exit planning business is the lack of context that an owner has in relation to how they should go about exiting. This is, in part, because up until recently, few if any advisors or consultants had chosen to focus on this area. Therefore, most owners do not know what it means to 'properly' exit their business or even what an exit plan truly is and what it can accomplish for their business succession. Business owners have not been educated on the importance of an exit plan. It is now the role of the advisor to begin these exit planning conversations and help guide business owners by implementing and executing a successful exit plan.

The Marketplace of Exiting Owners
Business owners today are more discriminating. They have been navigating through this challenging economy and have adjusted their budgeting process. Therefore, advisors need to provide a ‘genuine’ service. The marketplace has moved to a point of 'show me' instead of simply 'telling me'. This means that you need to approach the owners with a clear idea of what an investment in an exit plan (or at least an exit planning conversation) will mean to them. Without this type of impactful approach, most owners will not respond positively as it is still difficult for them to see the value in an 'exit planning exercise' without the advisor having a strong belief in the process and a way to message it to that owner.

Despite this obstacle, there remains no question that the marketplace for this service is picking up. In 2009, business owners were focused on survival, not an exit. But as we pass the half way mark of 2010, there is much more interest and demand for exit planning services. Most owners are beginning to feel that the worst of this recession is now behind them and that it’s time to plan for the future. I 've heard many comment on how they made it 'through this one' - meaning this most recent recession, but these owners do now want to go through the next one. This makes sense because these baby boomer owners will be in their '70s by the time the next recession hits. They need a plan, a solution, so they are in a position to successfully exit their business when and how they wish to do so. An exit plan empowers owners to do exactly this.

The Growing Marketplace of 'Exit Planning' Advisors
The objective for anyone who calls themselves an 'exit planner' should be the ability to provide solutions to the privately-held business owners that include an assessment of the owner's goals and enough objective and comprehensive information to allow that owner to make a fully informed decision relating to the exit from their business as well as the protection of their total wealth. Most importantly, advisors need to provide a process by which an owner can be guided towards the right decisions to have a successful exit.

In today's changing marketplace, it is essential for advisors to have the ability to sell exit plans with a 'proven' results-driven system and process that the business owner is looking for today. They need to have a comprehensive understanding of this marketplace as well as the ability to engage the business owner with these exit planning conversations.

I believe that one of the key essentials for true success in the exit planning field is to invest in a course of study and training. Expand upon your knowledge with all the available tools and resources and to begin networking and meeting with other advisors and consultants who have exit planning experience. Making all of these opportunities available to advisors around the country is Pinnacle's objective for our expansion in the 2nd half of 2010 . . . stay tuned for more exciting updates on these plans for expansion and how they can benefit your business.

The exit planning marketplace is changing with this new economy. Embrace these changes and prepare yourself to engage in this emerging field. Although exit planning is not 'new' anymore, it's still early in the game. There are many opportunities ahead as the marketplace continues to grow and business owners 'awake' to the idea of exit planning.

As always, I hope that this newsletter is helpful towards keeping you focused on exit planning and assisting you with putting it into your advisory practice.

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit Pinnacle Equity Solutions

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pinnacle's Upcoming 2-Day Workshops

Make time this Fall to attend one of our upcoming Exit Planning Workshops and be prepared to meet the growing demand for exit planning services.

2-Day Exit Planning Workshop
Thursday & Friday September 23rd & 24th
Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, CT

2-Day Exit Planning Workshop
Thursday, October 21st & 22nd
Downtown, Boston, MA

John Leonetti will be hosting a FREE preview call to discuss the 2-day workshop and how this curriculum is vital to the development of your exit planning practice. He will be joined by Pinnacle member Joe Bazzano, who is co-hosting the Mohegan Sun event. Click below to register for this FREE call on

Thursday, August 26th @ 1:00 EST

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit Pinnacle Equity Solutions

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Life Cycle of Exit Planning

A number of months ago I wrote that Exit Planning was a disruptive innovation. What this means is that an idea - a technology, for lack of a better word - comes along and changes the worldview of certain players. This change in view takes time to be adopted by most. However, when the message - or technology - is strong enough, it breaks through and becomes mainstream and is widely adopted. This adoption cycle can be observed as a life-cycle for a new technology. We can view and predict how these types of innovations are adopted by looking back to certain other disruptive innovations, such as the automobile, cellular phones, or the Internet.

The exit planning industry is going through a similar life cycle and is on the verge of wide-spread adoption by the marketplace.

Four-Stage Technology Life Cycle

The adoption of a new idea by the marketplace of consumers can be illustrated as an S-curve, where three (3) stages of development occur. There is strong evidence that the exit planning industry is moving from the "Innovation Stage" and into the "Growth Boom Stage" of such a cycle.

The first phase of an a new product's Life Cycle is the "Innovation Stage". During this "Innovation Stage", the product or technology is expensive and more difficult to use and therefore only penetrates the more upscale and sophisticated users. This was true for automobiles (which none of us can remember), as well as cell phones and computers - which all of us can remember. I personally remember the first computer and cell phone that I owned. In fact, it's now laughable to think that in 1993 I used to have to worry about whether or not I shut off the AOL Internet connection because they charged by the hour. Not to mention the weight of my first cell phone, as well as the cost of my first computer. Despite those short-comings, adopting those technologies early, was empowering because a new way of working, connecting and communicating was developing and it helped greatly to be involved early on in these changes.

Once the product or technology is proven in such niche markets, it starts to become more affordable and accelerates rapidly into the mainstream . The first phase of this acceleration is called the "Growth Boom Stage" where exponential growth continues. This phase attracts many new products and companies, and they eventually expand too quickly and create excess capacity.

It is amazing how far we can advance in such a short amount of time when more and more industry players are focused on product development and improvement. This is what happens when a new product or innovation is widely accepted. Prior to that time period, it is the early adopters who disproportionately benefit from the use - or production and sale - of the product.

Today's Exit Planning Industry
I have the unique benefit of seeing the exit planning business emerge. My book, Exiting Your Business, Protecting Your Wealth - A Strategic Guide for Owners and Advisors [John Wiley & Sons, 2008] has now been selling for two (2) years and, with thousands of copies in the marketplace, and hundreds of professional advisors in our network of Membership, Workshops, and Chapter meetings, I am in a special position to observe and report on the state of the exit planning industry.

I believe that the Exit Planning industry is heading quickly towards the Growth Boom Stage where exponential growth occurs. I see this shift occurring in the next year to two (2) years, as our economy recovers and the Baby Boomer business owners begin to focus, in mass, on the need for them to exit their business.

Remember, the generation ahead of the Baby Boomers had the Boomer children to take over their businesses. These Boomers are too large a group (meaning the generation X'ers are fewer in total number) and the mindset of Generation X is not generally towards business ownership. This leaves fewer 'buyers' than 'sellers'. And, given our protracted recession and the need for these Boomers to monetize their largest asset, the demographics and economic cycles are also driving this demand.

Our 10-year transfer cycles (which has been written about in past newsletters) predicts that our economy, and a stable environment for business transfers, is coming over the next one to two (2) years - coinciding with the S-Curve for new product Life Cycles, and completing the evidence of a growing demand for exit planning services.

How You Can Get Involved
Your business owner clients and prospects need to hear this message so that they can stay ahead of the curve and be prepared for their exit. You have the opportunity to bring this unique service to your exiting owners once you have a solid system to work with, tools for discussion and presentation, and, perhaps even a deliverable to accompany the conversation.

I encourage you to join the hundreds of advisors who have benefited from Pinnacle's 2-day workshops to educate themselves on the marketplace of exiting owners and to incorporate exit planning into their practices. We have an upcoming workshop preview call that describes all of this and I encourage you to attend to learn more about how you can more effectively make exit planning a part of your business.

As always, I hope that this newsletter is helpful towards keeping you focused on exit planning and assisting you with putting it into your advisory practice.

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit Pinnacle Equity Solutions

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Power of a Mastermind Group

General Principles of Success
Many years ago, the famous Andrew Carnegie saw a need to share the secret of success with the world. Knowing how to recruit people to assist in achieving his dreams, he put the challenge to Napoleon Hill to invest more than 20 years interviewing more than 500 exceedingly wealthy individuals (most of whom started life with nothing) to identify and confirm the secret to success - in this case, the success in attracting money into your life on a consistent basis (although the concept can be used for however you choose to define success and/or happiness).

Hill set to the task and encompassed his findings in his book, "Think and Grow Rich", a now timeless classic.

The main premise of the book is that your mind is the most powerful tool that you have, and will ever have. When used properly, the mind can create any future and reality that one desires. However, for a variety of reasons, most people are unable to see past the limitations that are ingrained in their thinking. Once thoughts can be focused on an objective - and not derailed by limitations - the actions that derive from those thoughts will guide one towards the success that they desire.

Sounds simple enough. So, why isn't everyone able to simply 'think' themselves into business success and a fortune? Well, actually, everyone is able to do this, but most people are not aware of the steps involved with acting this way consistently and they are not sure how to overcome the obstacles that prevent such thinking.

A study of individuals who achieve great success and wealth will reveal a deep rooted belief in opportunity and abundance. These people often will also see temporary defeat as an opportunity to learn and grow, not as a failure and a reason to quit. And it is this 'inner voice' that guides their thoughts and actions. Whereas the opposite is true of most people. For a variety of reasons most people see limitations and a virtual impossibility towards reaching their goals.

The book goes through many concepts and offers a specific 'step-by-step' approach towards advancing to your goals. In fact, Page 28 gives instructions on exactly what to do to develop a 'money-consciousness' that will attract wealth into your life.

Hill discusses, Chapter by Chapter, the topics of:

1. Desire
2. Faith
3. Autosuggestion
4. Specialized Knowledge
(I must plug in here that exit strategy planning is currently regarded as 'specialized knowledge' in a world of advisory services that are becoming increasingly commoditized every day).

5. Imagination
6. Organized Planning
7. Decision
8. Persistence

then Chapter 9, Power of The Master Mind

The Mastermind Principle
First Hill describes 'power' as "organized and intelligently directed Knowledge . . . through the coordination of effort of two or more people who work toward a definite end, in a spirit of harmony."

Hill then makes the somewhat dramatic statement (p. 182) that "No individual can have great power without availing himself or herself of the Master Mind Principle." He challenges the reader to "analyze the record of anyone who has accumulated a great fortune . . . and you will find that they have either consciously or unconsciously employed the Master Mind Principle."

He describes thoughts as a 'stream of power' and states that "the positive emotions of thought form the side of the stream which carries one to fortune. The negative emotions form the side which carries one down to poverty."

So, the Master Mind Principle includes a group of people coming together to achieve a stated objective and working in harmony towards achieving that end.

Forming a Mastermind Group
Pinnacle Equity Solutions leads the exit planning industry in training and execution of exit plans. Beyond the training and executions, we also collaborate in groups towards advancing our individual businesses as well as the industry as a whole.

That is what occurred in Tampa last weekend as 10 Pinnacle 'Platinum Level' Members came together for our first of three Mastermind Meetings for 2010. These meetings are designed from Napoleon Hill's writings - recognizing that our thoughts for success need to be organized in writing and stated as our intention. As a mastermind group, we each presented our goals for the year and 'brainstormed' on ways in which exit planning could be successfully incorporated and profitably employed in our businesses. This is a very powerful exercise as the creative energy which comes from these meetings serves to focus on thoughts of success and the follow up coaching and subsequent meetings hold us accountable to our goals and keeps our mind set towards achieving what we set our minds to.

The Key to Success is Like-Minded and Right-Minded Participants
The key to making this type of group work well is getting the right-minded people together, setting a specific agenda, closing the door (physically) to close out all distractions, and allowing the creative energy to flow towards the objective that was stated.

Each of the ideas created in these weekend session is the collective product of the group thinking delivered from a focus on the needs of each individual Member in achieving their goals.

The Mastermind group is, in effect, a very well organized 'reminder' of what you have committed to and a system by which you receive insights for your goals and also by which you maintain your focus.

Master Mind groups that follow Hill's formula are remarkably effective. These types of groups are not very hard to assemble. However, there is a secret to forming these groups. It is this secret that forms the basis of Pinnacle's Platinum Level group. It is also the insight that can assist you in forming your own group to assist you with your goals. To learn more about forming one of these groups and how Pinnacle will launch its new Certification Program, be sure to register for Wednesday's call.

I am very excited about launching into this New Year and to join my fellow Master Mind Platinum Members in making quantum leaps in our businesses. As I stated in my State of the [Pinnacle] Union address last month, my Company had a quantum leap forward in 2009 and expects to continue that momentum in 2010. With the help of my Platinum group, I expect to lead our collective success into and through this New Year.

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit Pinnacle Equity Solutions

Monday, February 22, 2010

Exit Planning Workshop Preview Call

Mark your calendar for Wednesday, February 24th for our 3rd Workshop Preview Call.

On this call, John Leonetti will further discuss the benefits of our 2-Day Workshop March 19th & 19th in Boston, MA.

John is also going to announce Pinnacle's Inaugural Certification Course

That's right . . . after three (3) years of building content, teaching a cutting-edge MBA course, writing a leading book on exit planning, and training and mentoring hundreds of advisors, Pinnacle is announcing it's latest offering

The Certified Business Exit Consultant Program™

But there is a catch . . .

We are only admitting ten (10) advisors to this intensive training.

'Why so few advisors' you may ask . . . the answer is simple,

Along with this exciting program we are going to guarantee your success . . .
or your money-back.

How can Pinnacle make such an offer?

Tune in to listen to Pinnacle founder, John Leonetti, walk you
through the details of this exciting program and how it relates to the teachings at our upcoming Workshop.

To register for this informative call, please click here.

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit Pinnacle Equity Solutions

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pinnacle's State of the Union Address

This feature article highlights the call that John Leonetti did for his Pinnacle Members describing his assessment of today's marketplace of exiting owners as well as the growing 'exit planning' community and Pinnacle's plans for 2010 to continue its leadership role in this exciting and emerging profession.

2009 Pinnacle Overview:
The Small Business Owner Continues to Suffer
Overall, in 2009, the small business owner continued to suffer from restricted access to credit and a lack of vision towards future prospects and growth. Amidst this backdrop of challenges, a small percentage of forward-looking owners choose to invest in the longer-term planning exercise that is the foundation of a solid exit plan.

However, sewn within this general fabric of business owner lament were positive signs. Once we got through the summer of 2009, a noticable trend occurred . . . more owners took meetings on the exit planning topic and signed engagement agreements to get the process started. This trend could be observed quite clearly as it stood in stark contrast to the 'deafening silence' of the first six months of 2009. And, within the walls of Pinnacle's headquarters, it has had me and my team quickly assembling resources to support this growing trend of owner engagements.

Listed below are many of Pinnacle's initiatives to assist you in capturing the emerging opportunity and being prepared for this coming wave of owners who are opening up to the idea of setting a plan to address the largest financial transaction of their lives.

Highlights from Pinnacle's Existing Content and What Was Delivered in 2009
" . . . through our newsletters, training calls, workshops, spotlight calls and support we’ve presented to you experts, authors, articles, information and topics that were timely and were created to continually educate you on how you can improve your exit planning service for owners. We’ve listened to our Members who have been asking for even more advanced training and have created many focused initiatives for the coming year, improving on our already outstanding reputation for quality content and delivery."

Pinnacle's growing library of proprietary content available to our Members / licensees, now includes more than 100 hours of specialized training, including:

* 64 unique newsletters - each of which has a recorded training call.
* 28 expert interviews / Spotlight Guest calls covering a wide array of topics that
exit planners need to have access to in order to better understand
their exit planning conversations and services to owners.
* 24 unique white papers and specialized topics
* Prospecting tools, including letters and presentations to owners
* Instructional classes on packaging and presenting exit planning to owners
* Sample exit plans and fact finders to assist with your owner meetings
* Special coaching calls on general practice management
* Special guidance on how to market your exit planning services
* An online 'school' that addresses Pinnacle's exit planning system.

. . . and much, much more proprietary content to support you in learning in this field and delivering solutions to your owners.

Recognizing that an incredible foundation has been built, Pinnacle now is focusing on initiatives for 2010 that will empower you, that advisor to the owner, to be more pro-active with your training . . . empowering you to be even more profitable.

2010 Pinnacle Initiatives-
To continue the momentum that has been generated at Pinnacle, John laid out the aggressive agenda being implemented as Pinnacle continues to define excellence in the exit planning arena.

The first area to address in supporting our Membership is an . . .

Online Exit Planning Software Program
To add to Pinnacle's exit planning system, we are excited about the roll-out of our latest tool for advisors - a web-enabled software program empowering you, the consultant to business owners, to easily apply all of Pinnacle's traing to the buildout of exit plans right from your desktop computer. This online tool will empower members to organize client information and provide high quality deliverables. As more and more exit planning engagement agreements are signed, there is a pressing need to provide this tool to our growing base of advisors.

Pinnacle will soon announce the availability of this web-enabled, dynamic and proprietary software solution that will provide you with a deliverable that not only follows Pinnacle's process for exit planning but also is rich with colorful charts, updated tax and regulatory information, as well as being customizable to your needs with your owners. The Membership has spoken and we have listened and are ready to deliver a 'category killer' application that will make the presentation and assembly of your exit plans more powerful . . . and your practice more profitable.

Next, John discussed the 'foundation' of exit planning content and how it will now be organized into a . . . .

Certification Program
After three (3) years of building focused and organized exit planning content, Pinnacle is quickly organizing and adding to all of this excellent material to bring you a cutting edge, rigorous Exit Planning Certification Course. Pinnacle's Certification Committee has been working on this project for nearly 5 months to deliver to the marketplace a Certification and represents nothing short of excellence in the field of exit planning. We, as a Committee, feel strongly that the exit planning marketplace needs better definition. As the leader in this space, it is therefore Pinnacle's responsibility to provide this definition of excellence. It is against this backdrop that the Certification course is being built.

Pinnacle recognizes that most advisors and consultants who offer exit planning today do so as an 'add on' to their existing advisory service. This has created a challenge for advisors and consultants to focus on the training and delivery of exit planning services (particularly in light of the economy in 2009). The Certification course will focus your efforts and further define the expectation and direction that you can take your exit planning practice. Far beyond simply holding yourself out as an exit planner, this Certification will challenge you to differentiate yourself from the growing field of those professing to provide this service by empowering you with training and advanced tools to deliver solutions to owners at a whole new level.

Expect to see details of this launch in March of 2010.

Advanced Member Support
To accomodate our growing Membership, Pinnacle is currently interviewing a Membership coordinator. Our Membership has spoken on this point and we, again, have listened. It is important to Pinnacle that your questions be answered and, moreover, that our tools are understood and used on a regular basis. To this end, we have built a support position to address only these issues so that Pinnacle can more effectively provide phone support and the distribution of our proprietary online newsletters. In addition, we will be providing advanced support for the completion of your exit plans

Upgrade to Our Training Program
An interesting observation came from the Members in 2009 that required a bit of thinking . . . perhaps, at times, we were providing too much content, training and information. Some Members felt as though they were struggling to keep up with the pace of information that we distributed. To address this issue, we have expanded our training to include eight (8) Advanced Practice Management calls throughout the year. These advanced calls will put into better context the topics that we cover in our training and assist you in better applying the teachings in your businesses.

We are excited about this improvement to our programming and look forward to our first Advanced Practice Management call in mid-February.

Upgraded Online Newsletter Service
To our chagrin, we have discovered that many of our Members continued to struggle with the marketing and distribution of the exit planning content to their business owner clients and prospects. This means that much of the excellent training and content remains in the minds of advisors and not in the hands of [potential] exiting owners. To address this issue, Pinnacle is systemetizing our process for establishing online delivery of our newsletters in a customized format for your practice. Moreover, we are adding to our support team the ability to do this without your [manual] involvement. Members have heard about this already but should expect individual phone calls to discuss how we can help get you set up with this important marketing tool.

Direct to Owner Presentations
One of the most exciting projects that we have in a Beta phase is the mailing and telemarketing program for direct business owner contact. Although we recognize that 'cold prospecting' is one of the worst and most expensive forms of new client acquisition, we also know the topic of 'exit planning' is highly specialized in its messaging to owners. What does this mean?

Simply put, discussing an exit is a very private matter for most owners and, therefore, it is a lot of work for any one advisor or consultant to get this dialogue started with an owner. Our 'direct to owner' initiative will be the 'door opener' to get you in front of owners on a regular basis.

This 'direct to owner' program is currently in beta testing and will, hopefully, be offered in the 2nd quarter to the Membership as an additional service. Our success with these Beta tests will be defined by Pinnacle's ability to consistently put Members in front of business owners in a proven and strategic manner to have the exit planning conversation. We are very excited about our current Beta tests and will present more details of this program in the 2nd quarter of 2010. Keep an eye out for applications for this exciting program.

Platinum Program
Pinnacle's year-long, select group of Platinum Members continues with a powerful assembly of advisors in 2010. This group had four (4) seats open up after the 2009 group concluded and they were quickly filled with motivated advisors and consultants who were very good, non-competitive, highly experienced and suppportive Members of Pinnacle's program.

More than a few Members have asked about Platinum II - a 2nd Platinum Group which would be built for collaboration on owner exit plans, as well as to suppport each other in a non-competitive manner in building each other's individual businesses. Given all of Pinnacle's current initiatives, we are not opening a 2nd Platinum Group until, at least, the 2nd Quarter of 2010. For those with a continued interest, we encourage you to continue to let our office know that you would like to be a part of this new group and we will keep your application on file for [likely] the 2nd half of the year when this new group opens up.

Additional Live Chapter Meetings
Finally, we will continue a wonderful tradition that was started in the 2nd half of last year . . . Pinnacle's quarterly, Members only, Chapter meeting. Although our Chapter meetings are currently scheduled for Boston (next meeting on April 7th in Boston) all our nation-wide members are invited to join us for these full days of networking and advanced practice management. We have had tremendous feedback and success with this program so far and look forward to expanding the concept into other markets in 2010.

Closing Thoughts
It is an exciting time to be a part of Pinnacle's exit planning 'Union'. We see continued excitement around this unique offering and look forward to another year of delivering excellence to your consulting and advisory businesses.

Also, be sure to check out Pinnacle's 2-Day Workshop at Suffolk University's Law School in Boston, MA March 18th & 19th at Suffolk University.

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit Pinnacle Equity Solutions

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Recession, Economy and the Future of Small Business

A few weeks ago we closed out Pinnacle's year of exit planning education with a special call with Rob Slee. Rob is the founder of Midas Nation ( which is a community that is dedicated to increasing the value of businesses. Rob is also the author of three books ‘Private Capital Markets: Valuation, Capitalization and Transfer of Private Business Interests’, ‘Midas Managers” and ‘Midas Marketing”. In addition, Rob is the Managing Director of Robertson & Foley, a middle market investment banking firm.

In short, Rob is a small business guru who is making dynamic changes to the way in which owners view their businesses and gain access and insights towards being more competitive. This, of course, ties into an owner's exit plans. After a stage of value-creation comes the logical next step of value-realization - i.e., an exit.

Pinnacle Members provided rave reviews of this call and how it will alter the message that they carry to business owners in 2010. Accordingly, we wanted to share the hightlights with you in order to encourage you to pay careful attention to how this new global economy will shape small business in the future, empowering you, the advisor / consultant, to deliver more valuable advice to your exiting owners.

The Title of our December Spotlight Call was:

Recession, Economy and the Future of Small Business

We offer below the salient questions and answers that were covered on this call:

1. What is the impact of globalization on the small business?
The majority of US small businesses are primarily focused on U.S, not foreign, distribution, so when the US market is in a recession there is no where else to focus the business. In order to be competitive, small business owners need to incorporate a global diversification plan. Understand that globalization is not a fad.

Comment: Rob likes to use a term for this behavior, he calls it the 'matrix of denial'. Similar to the movie, The Matrix, many owners are living in a world where they do not know that they are asleep (in this case, at the wheel). There has been a seismic shift in how business is conducted yet many owners are reluctant to engage in understanding these changes and the long-term impact they will have on their small business. Globalization is one of the largest of the 'denials' of small business owners and their failure to adopt their business models to address this demand leaves them more vulnerable to recessions and competitive forces.

2. How have the economy, and its meltdown, impacted small business?
In the fall of 07’ all sectors of asset classes were under-reserved and out of balance. This lead to the economic situation we’ve been working through the past few years. As a result, banks are still not lending and until they can get the toxic assets off the books and rebalanced they will not open their small business lending. For business owners who require revolving credit to operate, we’ve seen a lot simply shut down and walk away as a result of lack of funding.

Comment: Small businesses create the majority of jobs in this country. We are now talking about 'recovery' for the U.S. [and world] economies. One needs to ask the logical question, 'how will the sector of the economy that produces the majority of the jobs provide for new employment without access to capital'. Moreover, it is easy to observe that, although most owners are resilient, many are second guessing their expansion plans in the absence of stronger evidence of economic prosperity in the near future. It is simply too painful to be ahead of the demand curve and experience the discomfort of cash-flow constraints on the heels of this recession. Without the proper amounts of capital available for small businesses, this recession could be protracted.

3. How and when will the US jobless recovery resolve itself?
Rob believes it can take up to 3 or 4 years to work through the rebalancing of the asset classes. Add to that the fact that the companies that are prospering in the current economy are structured with minimal employees – they are not adding the mass number of jobs to the market.

Comment: There are two (2) relevant points here:

Point #1, amongst the major assets classes that are out of balance, there is a lot of work yet to be done. One only needs to listen to speculation on the near-term impact of commercial mortgage failures and credit card defaults to see that we are not quite out of the woods yet. That being said, the worst still appears to be behind us, although our next point illustrates what the future of small business will look like.

Point #2 is that today's businesses that 'add value' are the ones that leverage their intellectual property and make efficient use of resource partners. What does this mean? Simply stated, we are less in the 'own and control' economy and more in the Aggregation Age. This means that the businesses that will be successful are working smarter, not harder, at identifying the intellectual and other property that is in demand and finding cost-effective ways to leverage, or distribute, this content, service, or offering. Unlike the 'days of old', businesses that will do well in the future are not labor or capital intensive. Rather, they possess various 'assets' that can be licensed, distrubuted, franchised, repackaged, joint ventured, and / or merged with other 'channel partners' for maximum effective market penetration.

As Rob likes to say, the new business world is mostly about owning but not controlling your market / distribution channels. This is a market reality that many of the 'old line' business owners are not adopting to. Moreover, this model does not require many new employees.

4. How can these insights help business owners?
First, business owners need to think about what their business is worth today – they can’t get stuck thinking about what it was worth a few years ago. The compelling message for baby boomer business owners is to think about this recession and its impact on you, your family and your business. If they do not plan accordingly and plan for their exit now, they may hit a subsequent recession when they are in their 70’s.

Comment: There is a rather predictable trend that can illustrate 'windows' for an owner to exit their business. And, with the right advice and guidance, owners can be well-prepared on a personal and business level to meet the market during the optimal exit time periods. Despite this predictability, most owners will not be prepared for their exit. This is where we as advisors and consultants can be most helpful. We can raise the awareness of owners and help them see that without proper planning and preparation, they are leaving themselves exposed to the risk of another recession and further loss to the illiquid wealth that they need for their post-exit goals and lifestyle.

5. What is Midas Nation?
The idea behind Midas Nation is to improve the value that small businesses add to our nation – for our generation and for generations to come. Behavior modification is a two year program that takes trades people and trains them to be value architects where they provide value to the marketplace. Midas marketing is leveraging your intellectual capital – learn how to do this in your own business before you can talk to your clients about their business.

Comments: We as advisors should look at how we are adjusting our own businesses to the new market realities. Are we, too, stuck in the Matrix of Denial? Perhaps the idea of bringing more value to your relationships and developing a deeper understanding of business owners and how to deliver the solutions within an exit plan is what you should be focusing on for the development of your practice. That is what Pinnacle offers.

If you want to follow Rob, this small business guru, to see what he has to say about small business and its future, you should go to and read about his recent comments. These insights are very timely and valuable and can assist in bringing your advisory practice to a new level as you help owners see more of what the future holds in store for them and their businesses.

For now, make a note to keep abreast of these fast moving changes in 2010. Both you and your clients will prosper from this additional focus.
These insights can be 'mined for further gold' as you reflect upon them in your next conversations with owners.

Specializing in Business Exit Strategies, John M. Leonetti, Esq., M.S. Finance, CM&AA founded Pinnacle Equity Solutions to provide advisors with the tools they need to incorporate Business Exit Planning into their advisory practices. To learn more about John's Exit Strategy Services and to receive a FREE copy of his special report, "How To Incorporate Exit Strategies Into Your Advisory Practice", visit