Do you ever feel like having a business is a glorified job? Is it possible to exit your company WITHOUT selling it or quitting? Could you live a free lifestyle as an entrepreneur? Jason Duncan, the Author of Exit Without Exiting, joins Chris Miles on the show to reveal how to live the “Exit Lifestyle” while still keeping your business. Maintain profitability while living the life you choose. Learn how you can do that in this conversation!
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How To Exit Your Business Without Needing To Sell With The REAL Jason Duncan
This show is for you, those of you that work so freaking hard for your money, and you’re ready for your money to start working harder for you. You want that freedom of cashflow not 30 or 40 years from now, but now so you can live the life that you love doing what you love. It’s not about getting rich. It’s about living a rich life because as you are blessed financially, you have a greater capacity to bless the lives of more people. That is why I’m here.
Thank you for allowing me to create a ripple effect through you. Thank you for letting me binge you, but that’s not the case. You are probably binging me instead, but I do appreciate you binging, sharing, and even reaching out. I even talked to a guy that said, “It’s weird hearing your voice because I’ve been listening to it and binging it.” I appreciate that because you are the best audience. I know Jason might disagree because he’s got a cool audience, too, but I know that you are amazing.
I‘ve got a special guest, Jason Duncan, here. Jason is a pretty powerful guy here that I’m excited to have on. The guy has one of the fastest–growing privately held companies in the world. On top of that, he started twelve different companies. He has been in entrepreneurship since 2010, ever since he quit the education space. He left being a teacher to be an entrepreneur.
He has been rocking it and doing great stuff. He even runs a mastermind called The Exiter Club. That is incredible too. We’re going to talk about that. He’s also got his show, The Root of All Success, that I’ll be on. It’s a great show to check out. He’s out in Tennessee. He married his sweetheart of many years. Jason, I’m excited to have you on our show.
It’s an honor to be here, Chris. Thank you.
You got this extra man scale on me because I heard you motorcycles and camp in RVs, which are both things that I’ve wanted to learn but never done.
RVing is easier than motorcycling, but it is more expensive. I dig it. I started riding motorcycles as an adult. I didn’t ride as a kid. I fell in love with it, and now I’ve got two motorcycles. I ride a lot and enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun to get out, see the countryside, and enjoy a little wind therapy because you need that every once in a while. We do the RV stuff because I’ve been doing that my whole life growing up. We went camping when I was a kid. My wife and I love to do it.
That sounds more appealing to me than the other strategy I was going to do. I thought maybe I would do the whole Forrest Gump thing where you run across the country because I’m a marathoner, but then I mapped it out and then started counting the number of days it would take me and how many miles I have to run a day. I‘m like, “This is going to take me months to get across a stupid country. Put me in a car, an RV, or a vehicle. I‘ll do it that way.” Maybe I’ll go out on runs in the morning.
With gas prices, it’s a lot cheaper to run and stay in nice hotels.
That’s true. Burn through a couple of pairs of shoes, and you’re good. Tell us more about your story because there are a lot of people that have a goal to create the life that you have. You started as that schoolteacher and then were able to lead that and create this whole new life of freedom. Tell us about that.
I started my career as a pastor. I was in pastoral ministry for thirteen years and then got fed up with that. I thought I had to do something different to make a bigger impact. I went back to school, got a Master’s in education, took classes to get my teaching certificate or teaching degree, went to start teaching eighth-grade American history, and fell in love with it. I always liked the part of the pastoral part of being the teacher and the preacher. I did not care for the traditional pastoral stuff, the counseling, the visitations, and that type of thing.
I never liked doing that, but when I started teaching, I fell in love with it. I realized, “I get energy from this. I enjoy it. I like it. The kids like me. It’s a lot of fun.” I was making a difference. Budget cuts came after the Great Recession. I was the last guy hired in that building. They had to make decisions based on tenure. I didn’t have tenure. I was the number one teacher in the county in my subject area, but they let me go. They said, “Your contract won’t be renewed for next year.”
I had the decision to make about what the next step in my life was going to be career-wise. I made a big change from ministry to teaching. I was prepared to make another change, but I didn’t want to go back to the corporate world. I took the leap into entrepreneurship and started a lighting company about which I knew nothing. It ultimately turned out pretty good. It became very successful, which you alluded to at the top of the show. That was my life for about a decade. It was an exciting ride.
I almost want to take this in a different direction, but I’m going to try to stay a little focused here because you got a lot of fascinating things I want to ask for you specifically. Tell us more. What is this exiter lifestyle? What does that mean?
I started a company as a lot of entrepreneurs do out of need. It was a need to pay the bills. It was something I had to do to make money. I chose entrepreneurship. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t like I stumbled into it and accidentally did this thing. I consider myself, in many ways, an accidental entrepreneur, but that’s a misnomer. In reality, I chose it. I did it because I needed to make money. I had a mortgage to pay. I had debts to pay. I had bills to pay. In the beginning, I never thought, “What will this be long term? What would I do to exit it at some point?”
I had a partner early on. Every once in a while, the phrase exit strategy would come up. We would talk about it like we knew what the hell we were talking about, and we didn’t. It never became any reality about what’s next. It was almost as if I took a job, and I was the owner of the job. I was a job owner. I was not a business owner. Many entrepreneurs are exactly like that. The exit lifestyle is about coming to grips with the fact that your life needs to be more than business ownership. I truly believe that business ownership is not about owning the business and running the business. It’s about the business providing you with the financial resources that you want and you need to live the lifestyle that you desire.
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, and what industry you’re in. Most people have this delusion of thinking that, at some point, they will sell their business to venture capital, private equity, or somebody else for this huge dollar mountain. People like you will come in and show them what to do with their money. That doesn’t happen. I don’t know what the percentage is, but it’s a single-digit percentage of how many times that happens. It doesn’t happen that often.
Why are we waiting for something at the very end to live the lifestyle of someone who has exited? Can’t we figure that out now? That’s what I figured out how to do. I exited my business without selling it a couple of years ago. I’m living what I consider my best life. I’m living in the center of my passion. I started a coaching company and a mastermind. I’ve been able to give a TED Talk. I’ve been able to do amazing things that had I been stuck running day-to-day, I would never get the opportunity. I want to show 100,000 entrepreneurs how to do the same thing.
I would love that because most people never have an exit strategy first. They think of death, “Maybe I’m done.” I became an entrepreneur over twenty years ago because my whole vision was I wanted to control my destiny, my time, my money, and my life. As I became an entrepreneur, it was like, “I own a job. I don’t have any freedom. I just have a very high–paying job. It’s great. I can choose my hours, but at the end of the day, how do I get out of it?”
That’s why the passive income thing came along. You’re speaking a big truth a lot of people that are entrepreneurs or business owners may not know. They might have this delusion that they’re going to sell their business, and they could if they do put some things in place that are correct, but for the most part, their death is shutting it down or quitting in general.
Seventy-five percent of businesses that are listed for sale never sell. Think about that, “I intend to sell it. I want to sell it. I want to take the cash out and move on.” Seventy-five percent do not ever sell. Out of the 25% that do sell, I don’t know what the percentage is there, but it’s a high percentage of that 25% that doesn’t result in the thing that the seller wanted to begin with. I’m finishing up my first book now. It’s called The Exit Lifestyle. I hope to have it finally published. It was supposed to be done in April 2023, but writing a book is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.75% of businesses listed for sale never sell. Click To Tweet
In the book, I tell these three stories about three different entrepreneurs. One ran his business and was looking for that sale, but because he was the owner-operator, he had to do what most people refer to as an earn-out. Somebody finally said, “I’ll buy it from you, but you have to stay in it and run it. I’ll give you a little money every year for the next 5 or 6 years.” He’s not able to live the exit lifestyle until that’s finally completed. By then, how old is he going to be? How much energy is he going to have left? That’s not the best way to do it.
The second story I tell is about a lady who built this very successful business. She built that business and created millions of dollars in revenue and profitability, making her company worth a lot of money. When she finally sold it, her kids were already in college, and now she’s got what people call the FU money. She can do anything she wants. It doesn’t matter. She could do it but to what end? She wasted all those years not spending time at her kids’ soccer practices and recitals. They can drive whatever car they want and do vacations now anywhere, but why would you exchange that time with your kids for money later?
The third story I tell is about a guy who built a business but from day one, he decided, “I won’t let this business run me. I will put systems, processes, and people into place so that it will run by itself. I could begin living as if I sold it.” Granted, that guy is not going to have the FU money all along the way, but would you rather have money or time? If you answered money, then more power to you. Go for it, but I would rather have time because, on my deathbed, I’m not going to be saying, “I wished I had another $100 million.” I’m going to be saying, “I wish I had another 100 days.”
You said something subtle earlier on that I don’t know if people picked up on. You didn’t sell your first business. You’re one of the 75%. What did you do to still exit from that business?
Technically though, I’m not part of the 75% because I didn’t list it. I never listed it for sale, but your point stands anyway. I had the business for seven years at that point. In 2017, I hired a business coach. I wanted to hire a business coach for a long time, but my partner all those years didn’t think we were smarter than business coaches. We didn’t need one. Finally, I was like, “I’m the majority owner of the company. We’re hiring a business coach.”
We hired one, and that’s when everything changed. Everything came into focus because I was so focused on my business. I didn’t see all the stuff around me. My peripheral vision was opened up by a coach. That’s what a coach should do anyway. He asked me questions like, “What do you want? Do you want to run a lighting company for the rest of your life? Is that what you intend to do?” I said, “This is not what God put me on the planet for.”
I was a pastor for a very long time. There were parts of it I did not like at all, but I enjoyed teaching immensely. I’m running this business because I needed to pay the bills, and it turned out to be very successful, but this isn’t why I’m here. There’s something else. He goes, “What do you want to do?” I’m like, “I have no idea. I’ll buy a car dealership or a motorcycle dealership. I don’t know what I want to do.” He said, “Let’s figure out how to get you out so that you can figure out what to do.”
My first question was, “Can we sell it?” He said, “You could, but it’s not worth anything because you’re the owner-operator. Nobody is going to buy this thing even though you’re very profitable. They’re going to require you to stay in it, and you don’t get out.” That’s when the exit without exiting concept was birthed in my brain, “I have to figure out a way to get out of here without getting out of here. How do I exit without selling?” Over the next eighteen months, I figured that out.
I stepped away from daily operations, brought in a new CEO, had my vice president promoted into positions of authority and responsibility in the business, and stepped away. I still own it to this day. The company is doing well. I have very little to do with the company. I get a phone call once a month about a question they will run past me, and that’s it. That’s all I do with that business. I went on to do what I believe I’m on the planet to do, which is to coach entrepreneurs on how to do what I did.
I was going to go deeper into that because I’m a Christ believer. It’s not about getting rich. It’s about living a rich life. It’s about something much more because I believe that we’re here to bless the lives of others, not get rich and die. What do you feel is your real ultimate purpose? You said it’s coaching entrepreneurs, but let’s go deeper than that. Let’s even go into the why behind that too.
Every single day as a follower of Jesus, I practice a very dedicated prayer methodology. I have this prayer app on my phone called PrayerMate. I don’t get paid there. I have no affiliates, but look up PrayerMate on the App Store or Google Play. It’s off Google Play. I know that because I got a new phone. I’m an Android user. I went to look for it to download it to my new phone. It wasn’t there. I freaked out. I was like, “This is part of my life. I’ve been using this for years. Where is it?” I emailed this developer, and he said something happened with their Google Play certification.
That’s a sidebar, but I use that every day. Part of my prayer is I read through my mission, my vision, and my goals for my life every single day without fail, except when the app wasn’t on my phone and I couldn’t read it for a few days. I had to wing it. My mission in life is to use my gifts of teaching and leadership to help other people get the results that they want. That could apply spiritually and financially and in health. It doesn’t matter. I want to help you get to whatever result you want as my client, my friend, or my associate. That’s my mission in life, whatever that means.
Second, what is my vision? My personal vision or what I want to see in the future and what I want people to see in me is that I live the life that made Jesus and my wife happy. Those are my audience of two. I want to make Jesus and my wife happy. If I can do that, at the end of the day, that’s all I’m interested in. From a business or professional perspective, my vision is to see 100,000 entrepreneurs break free from the ironic prison of entrepreneurship as I was able to do.
I want to see it through podcasts as I’m doing with you, public speaking, coaching, masterminds, and my books. I want to see entrepreneurs wake up to the reality that they don’t have to live that way. They can break free from it. That’s the why behind what I’m doing. I will do this for the rest of my life, whether I need the money, whether I don’t need the money, or whether I make money from it, although I won’t do it for free because that devalues it. I will do this forever. This is why I’m here. No matter the struggle I have to go through, I’m passionate enough about this. I will endure that.
I see a common theme in your life for sure. I did an episode about the purpose in your life versus the purpose of life because I believe the purpose of life for everybody is the same, which is blessing God’s children or blessing our brothers and sisters, but the purpose in your life is more how you uniquely show up to do that in every role that you play. It’s interesting following your story. You started as a pastor, and then that pastor calling moved into being an eighth–grade teacher and trying to bring that in there. You‘re bringing it to entrepreneurs in this space as well. It’s that common thread or that common theme that you see throughout your life.
I’m glad to hear that people who don’t know me can see that. I appreciate that very much. I had a weird and interesting comment from a lady that I don’t know who reached out to me after she heard me on a podcast. I’m saying this publicly. Nobody is going to know who it was who said it. She goes, “I’ve been following you for a while. Has anybody ever told you that you’re like the Christian Brad Lea?” I thought, “That’s kind. Nobody has ever said that before.” It’s an interesting perspective because I’m friends with Brad. I know Brad and his wife.
I thought that was interesting, but what’s even more interesting and what I appreciate about your comment, Chris, is that I don’t position myself as a Christian coach or a Christian speaker. I don’t do that. I don’t even use the word Christian to define myself. I haven’t used that in years. We can get into that if you’re interested in knowing why, but I haven’t used that. I don’t talk about it other than it comes out of who I am because I follow Jesus and make no bones about that.
That’s a very important part of my life. It’s the center of everything that I am, but I don’t position myself that way. You don’t know me. For someone that I don’t know, like the lady who called me, and I don’t know her at all, to say things like that, I’m like, “I must be saying something that makes people think that.” Thank you because, at the end of my life, I want to have made Jesus happy. If people see that in me, then I’m probably doing it right.
Do it without the labels too. Go with it.
I’m not interested in those.
I appreciate your time. This has been great. Everybody, we got his podcast as well as his website and contact information. You could check that out. I so appreciate you being here with us, Jason.
I appreciate you bringing me on the show. I would say to your audiences as I sign off with you that if you are an entrepreneur wanting to know how close you are to be able to exit, go to AmIReadyToExit.com. It’s a free assessment. It takes about 5 or 10 minutes to take it. You get a report back from me and my team on how close you are to being able to begin the exit from the daily operations of your business.
I love it. This is the thing. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur already and you’re feeling something, and you’re like, “You pegged me,” this is your invitation to take action, not just be a hearer of the word but be a doer of it. Go take that assessment and find out where you are in that because this could be the very thing that makes that critical shift in your life that changes it and buys your time and your life back, not with you but with your family, your loved ones, and those you’re trying to help and serve. That’s what this is about. It‘s about creating a better and richer life. Go and make it a prosperous week. We will talk to you later.
About Jason Duncan
The Real Jason Duncan is the founder of one of the fastest-growing privately held companies in America and one of the top entrepreneurial companies in the country. He is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur and founder of 12 companies who got his start in entrepreneurship as an unemployed schoolteacher in 2010. Educator-turned-entrepreneur, Jason now runs a mastermind called The Exiter Club that teaches entrepreneurs how to live #TheExitLifestyle through a method he calls #ExitWithoutExiting, which focuses on four core principles they can use to break free from the daily grind of business operations. He is also the host of the internationally syndicated podcast, The Root of All Success, which can be heard on all podcast players as well as viewed on YouTube. Jason lives in the Nashville, Tennessee, area with his high school sweetheart. They’ve been married for 27 years and have two grown children. He loves riding motorcycles and camping in his RV.