Steps to a successful exit strategy

A business owner's exit is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is not like selling a house or car; it is a complex process that begins with personal reflection regarding what the owner wants out of his or her business exit.

Each business exit is unique. Contrary to what you may believe, selling your business to an outside party isn't your only option. And there are five steps that can help you determine your primary goals and align your thoughts and plans accordingly.

Part one—devising

The first step in a business exit should be to define your personal goals. Begin with a basic—albeit crucial—question: "What do I want my business exit to accomplish?"