Checklist for Planning Your Exit

    May 16, 2024

    Checklist for Planning Your Exit

    Experts recommend succession planning at least five years before you want to exit your small business. Use this checklist to help you think through exit strategies and prepare for your next chapter! 


    Are you considering an exit strategy for your small business? This checklist can guide you through the process and set you up for a smooth transition.


    Looking for your exit? It's never too early to make a checklist for a smooth succession.


    First: Is an Exit Right for You? 

    • Make sure you’re firm in your decision and ready to let go of your business. 
    • Not entirely sure about exiting your business? Connect with a business coach to determine if the time is right for an exit. 
    • Seek guidance to understand what this transition will mean for you, both personally and financially. 
    • Choose your next chapter; you’ve put a lot of time into your business, and you’ll need to keep occupied and engaged afterward! 

    Make Business Plan Edits, Updates, Accommodations.   

    • Select an exit strategy, such as business merger, sale, ownership transfer, or another option. 
    • Review your current financial statements and determine your business value. 
    • Create succession plans for you as a business owner, your employees, and key personnel. 
    • Develop a business continuity or operational plan, if you don’t have one in place.

    Know Your Value. 

    • Seek a third-party business valuation so you know the going rate for your small business and what value you can expect in the event of a sale.  
    • Have due diligence materials ready (tax documents, financials, major customer contracts, etc.) to support the valuation process.  
    • If you own property for your small business, assess the current value of the land and property as part of the valuation. 
    • Conduct an audit that reviews operating documents, capital needs, tax documents, operational processes, insurance coverage, financials, and other key financial information.

    Communicate Your Exit. 

    • Develop an internal communications plan and discuss with impacted employees, family members, partners, and vendors. 
    • Communicate your exit to relevant stakeholders, including customers and the public at large. 
    • Conduct a communications audit of the online accounts (such as social media channels) where you appear linked to the company. Transfer these digital assets over to the new owner to streamline the transition. 

    Consult with Experts. 

    • Seek legal guidance in review and execution of any sale or transfer agreement/contract. 
    • Obtain legal advice on current customer agreements, leases, service agreements, supplier contracts, or pending commitments. 
    • Discuss personal and business tax liabilities, as well as payroll liabilities, with a financial advisor and tax professional. 
    • Seek out legal experts who can help with relevant filings if there are material changes in your business organizational structure, directors, or registration/incorporation.  
    • Work with real estate professionals and auditors to provide the market value of any land or property assets that will factor into a sale. 


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