Get clear on why you're exiting.
Why do you want to exit your business? In most cases, there are a combination of factors that are either "pushing" you away from your business or "pulling" you to something else.
Align your exit type with the reason you're leaving.
Often, when we think about exiting a company, we conjure the image of a spectacular business sale where a strategic buyer swoops in, pays an enormous price, and the business owner rides off into the sunset.
The reality is that there are several different ways to exit the day-to-day operations of your business, and the smartest founders align their exit type with their reason for leaving.
Figure out your number.
The ultimate judge of your company's value is the market itself. No matter how much you want for your company - or what you think you need - if the market says the business is not worth that, then you're out of luck.
In addition to getting a business valuation to understand what your company might be worth to a third party, there is another calculation you should make, which is to understand what your business is worth to you.
Decide what role you want to play in your company in the future.
For most owners considering exiting their business, they imagine an all-cash offer and leaving their company shortly after depositing the check. However, most exits are more gradual and rely on the owner's continued involvement after the sale.
It's important to get clear on the maximum amount of both time and money you're willing to commit after a transaction. As a general rule, you stand to earn more money from the sale of your business the more willing you are to participate in a transition period.
Pick your exit strategy.
At one extreme, you may have built up enough investable assets outside of your business to be financially secure, and you are willing to continue to be a shareholder in your company for the long run. If this is you, then hiring a CEO and relinquishing your day-to-day responsibilities may be your best exit option.
At the other end of the spectrum, you may have another business you want to start or you just want to retire, and therefore want to maximize your cash proceeds and minimize your time in your company post-sale.
In this scenario, you would look to sell your business outright to a strategic buyer. No one situation is better or worse than the other. The key to a happy and lucrative exit is to get clear on your priorities before you start the exit process.
If you enjoy this content, check out the "Business Exit Success" Podcast! We'll bring you episodes weekly on topics laser focused on how owners can grow the value of their business and position themselves to exit successfully on their terms.