When running a business, owner-operators tend to focus on the here and now – and rightfully so. Operating a business is a never-ending quest to optimize what works, spot and fix what doesn’t, and adapt to an ever-changing environment. 

On the other hand, creating a high-quality business exit has its own requirements, which can sometimes be at odds with this day-to-day reality. It requires foresight and strategic thinking. More than anything, it requires a mindset shift

Every single business owner eventually exits his or her business in some shape or form. But only some end up with the best possible exit for them

There are very few shortcuts, hacks, or hard and fast rules when it comes to designing and creating the right business exit. Anyone who proposes the “single best strategy” for everyone should be apprehended skeptically. There are simply too many variables when considering particular owners, businesses, industries, and circumstances.

That said, there are some essential considerations that every business owner should consider when designing an exit – no matter how immediate, or far off into the future it is. See these more as principles and protocols than specific tactics. Remember what they say about the Devil and the details … 

Exiting is first and foremost about human goals. It’s about the life, or legacy, a founding entrepreneur wants to create for him or herself. It’s about vision, freedom, purpose, and goals. It may sound obvious – but too often, professionals develop tunnel vision around purely technical or financial issues, and lose sight of the broader human goals. 

Finally, the obvious disclaimer: initial answers and strategies, even when valid, should always be reviewed with qualified professionals, especially when one is ready to implement them. There are simply too many potential snags out there to ignore this. 

Now, let’s take a little dive into the world of creating a high-quality business exit – starting with the basic question – what exactly is an exit strategy?