Don’t read the title and get defensive. ALL business owners will exit their business….one way or another.

In my experience, most owners would prefer to plan early and exit on their own terms. Yet the fact remains that as baby boomers start to retire, there simply aren’t enough buyers out there to go around. Think about it; retiring baby boomers outnumber those people reaching 45 by more than 4,000 people per day.

Moreover, Millennials and Gen Xers have to carry high debt, especially with
educational loans, and the majority of them don’t have the money to purchase a business.

So how do you give yourself a shot for a smooth and financially beneficial exit into the sunset (or onto the golfing green)?

Bo Bringham, in Finish Big, identifies a few elements that will help you successfully take your leave, while ensuring you:

  • Are at peace with your former employees
  • Are treated and compensated fairly during the exit process
  • Have a new sense of purpose once you’re out of there

Here are 5 keys to exiting your business on your terms:

1. Build a business that can actually be sold when you want to whom you want. To do that you need to:

  • Run a highly profitable business
  • Create a business model that is not dependent on the owner

2. Give yourself time to prepare. That means years, not months.

3. Get advice from other business owners who exited their business successfully.

4. Make your exit plan your strategic plan. From training your successor to diversifying your marketing to creating efficiencies in your processes that will enhance your bottom line, make all future decisions based on how they will affect your ultimate goals.

5. Achieve your goals by working with your team and perhaps even your eventual successor after your exit. If you sell the company to an external buyer, smooth the transition by introducing them to your employees, vendors and customers.

6. Be fully engaged with what is coming next. Many business owners struggle with the status and meaning they had in their life as a result of their business. Without a business, you’ll need to learn to find fulfillment in other ways.

Start planning your exit before you start your business to give yourself the best chance at transitioning successfully. That will empower you to build the business that achieves those goals and is attractive to potential buyers. Many entrepreneurs exit their business due to failure. With proper planning, your business will thrive long after you leave it.

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