Exit Right®: Book Summary

Canadian Best Selling Business Book

Exit Right: A Guided Tour of Succession Planning for Families-in-Business-Together by Mark Voeller, Linda Fairburn, and Wayne Thompson. Toronto: Summit Run Inc.,
2002, 144 pp., 6 × 9, $22.50 CAN paper. Business ISBN 0-9687928-1-2


A Tool for Business Owning Families

Exit Right is written for business people, not academics. This is a quick and easy read, a "20,000 foot view” of the process designed to help business owners distinguish the forest from the trees and address the personal and family needs that their strategic and financial planning strategies must satisfy. It provides a practical step-by-step process for developing a plan that truly serves both the emotional and financial needs of the owner and his or her family as well as the long-term health of the business. The result? An effective succession plan that serves the owner, the family and the business.

Voeller and Fairburn are family business advisors who specialize in helping families-in-business-together balance family harmony with business effectiveness. Exit Right is a distillation of their considerable experience in "quarterbacking” family business succession planning efforts.

Exit Right contains seven chapters, each devoted to one
of the key issues that you’ll have to address in your succession planning:

  • Chapter One, Your Second Dream, you will explore your vision for your future and what financially it will take to realize your dream. Your answers to these questions could have a major impact on all the other decisions you will make.
  • Chapter Two, All in the Family?, you will explore your family members’ personal visions and visions for themselves in the business. These explorations will suggest who wants to work in the business, own the business and how family/emotional
    issues might be handled.
  • Chapter Three, Aligning the Business, you will explore your company’s strategic plan and the steps the business must take to support your personal dreams and those of your family.
  • Chapter Four, Preparing Your Successors, you will consider how you might go about preparing your successors for their future roles in the family business — as executives or as owners.
  • Chapter Five, The New Leader, you will explore the issues related to choosing who will succeed you in the leadership position.
  • Chapter Six, The New Owners, you will consider the business and emotional issues surrounding the transfer of the company’s ownership.
  • Chapter Seven, Building Your Legacy, you will explore how estate – planning issues can impact the entire succession planning process.

Each chapter identifies several key questions you’ll need to answer and underlying issues you’ll need to address as you proceed. Each topic concludes with a series of questions to
guide your exploration of the issue and some suggested action steps you can take to move your process along.

A Tool for Professionals

Exit Right is an excellent resource for accountants, lawyers, bankers, insurance and investment professionals looking to develop the broad perspective of the family business
advisor. Many have bought copies to give to their clients to kick-start the succession planning process. Volume discounts are available on request.


"Exit Right provide s a road map of the issues, options, and resources to help business owners face succession proactively.
Each of the book’s seven main chapters is laid out in a clear and organized manner. The writing is clear and concise, with a practical tone – ideal for the intended audience. Within the seven main chapters, the format is to raise key questions, point out underlying issues, and then at the end of each topic, present the reader with a series of questions for exploration. Finally, there are some suggested action steps to take.

The authors do a very good job of making this an easy-to-read book. The book is accessible, clearly written, pragmatic, and raises the issues to consider when facing the succession process. It has just enough statistics and research to give credibility without appearing too academic or theoretical. The authors also do a good job of synthesizing and distilling much of the information from the field into short, clear chapters. For example, they cover systems thinking in just over three pages, yet they do it well. Likewise, they cover the topic of choosing a consultant or understanding lifecycles in fewer than two pages each. The book also succeeds in providing an overall framework to the reader by describing the pattern of the succession process.

Exit Right fulfills its objective of being a quick read in terms of content, format, and topic coverage, making it an ideal read for business owners both in substance and form.”

Greg McCann. Family Business Review, vol. XV, no. 2, June 200
2 © p.p. 161-162. A publication of the Family Firm Institute (www.ffi.org).

"Rarely does a book address a complex subject matter in such a way as to make it readily understandable to the reader — Exit Right is a rare book. In short, this is a great book to give your client and a great resource for consultants who need a checklist of areas to consider when working with a family business.”

Alan C. Campbell, Ph.D., Family Business Partners, Mass Mutual

"Exit Right is breezily written, with chapters divided into key issues that an entrepreneur must consider, followed by some questions that will help him or her explore the issue and
take steps to turn decisions into reality.

Harvey Schachter, The Globe and Mail

"Of all the succession planning books I’ve ever seen, I think Exit Right is the bestone for business owners. It is comprehensive, yet crisp and to the point. A must read”

Rich Snebold