If you are a business owner, even a relatively young business owner, then it’s very possible that getting out of your business may have crossed your mind at some point. After all, none of us want to work forever, and whilst non-business owners can just retire when they’re ready, it isn’t quite as simple to walk away when you own and run the company in question. With that in mind then, what are your options? How can you plan for your future whilst also growing a successful business? How have other business owners managed to exit and ensure that both they and their business remain profitable and successful? Here are a few things you may wish to consider: 1 – It’s never too early to have a plan Exiting a business can take a long time. Knowing exactly when you want to exit, how you want to exit and how much money you want to take with you when you do can make things easier. Work backwards from your goal. If you want to leave with X amount in exchange for your shares, on Y date, then what sort of performance does the business need to be doing by that point? Tying together personal and business planning can be a very powerful way to shaping your future. 2 – Recognise that your plan could change Planning in detail for every eventuality is probably unrealistic, but, as ever in business, there may well be changes to your primary plan. What if someone unexpectedly comes in with an offer for your company, or your firm suffers a downturn? Will you work for longer in order to hit your goal? It’s worthwhile having these sorts of occurrences in mind when you plan for your exit. Just like cash flow, with its peaks and troughs, your route to an exit may do the same. 3 – The end doesn’t have to mean ‘the end’! Planning for a business exit can seem very final but the reality is that plenty of business owners and other professionals have second careers and businesses… and even third or fourth careers and businesses! Equally, many business owners who retire don’t necessarily fully retire immediately. It’s worth recognising that retirement and exiting a business should be something that works for you and if it’s a bit of flexibility and future in work that you’re after then it might not be out of your reach! 4 – Get a good team in place If you are looking to step away completely then it’s important to recognise that the business needs to be more than just you. If there’s anything that only you can handle in the business then it might be time to work towards an employee being able to pick it up. Incoming purchasers will want to know that things can continue successfully after you have exited.