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How to Position Your Business for Sale: 6 Preemptive Exit Planning Strategies You Can Implement Today

Exit planning isn't reserved for those on the brink of departure. Learn why establishing preemptive exit planning strategies is crucial for longevity.

Jill Simonds //April 25, 2024//

Businessman drawing Exit Strategy concept on blurred abstract background.
Businessman drawing Exit Strategy concept on blurred abstract background.

How to Position Your Business for Sale: 6 Preemptive Exit Planning Strategies You Can Implement Today

Exit planning isn't reserved for those on the brink of departure. Learn why establishing preemptive exit planning strategies is crucial for longevity.

Jill Simonds //April 25, 2024//

One strategic imperative transcends the immediate plans for scaling a business: positioning the business to sell.

Importantly, this goes beyond the misconception that exit planning is solely about exiting or selling the business.

But here’s the truth: Exit planning isn’t solely reserved for those at the brink of departure. Even for business owners who may not currently have intentions of selling their business, or who feel that an exit is a distant consideration, the merits of early and long-term planning for exit position the business as a valuable asset in the long run.

The value of proactive planning — and implementing strategies to build a sellable asset — extends beyond an eventual sale. It creates a robust and future-ready business that can confidently navigate the dynamic landscapes of entrepreneurship.

Aside from starting your plan as early as possible, here are some strategies and considerations for business owners seeking to optimize their exit strategy.

READ: Exit Planning — New Study Shows Most Colorado Business Owners Are Not Ready to Sell Their Businesses

1. Optimize your finances

Optimizing your finances early on in your business journey is essential for setting a strong foundation and maximizing valuation potential for a potential exit.

Begin by conducting a meticulous financial analysis to identify areas for improvement, focusing on both cost reduction and revenue enhancement. Implement advanced financial systems and tools to ensure accurate reporting and forecasting, which is crucial for attracting investors and buyers.

Forge strong relationships with financial institutions to secure favorable terms on loans and other financial products, and focus on optimizing working capital to improve cash flow and liquidity. Prioritize profitability over revenue growth, and document financial processes to ensure consistency and transparency. Seeking professional advice from experienced financial professionals can provide valuable guidance on optimizing finances and preparing for a potential exit.

2. Build operational efficiency

Start by conducting a comprehensive operational audit to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies across all aspects of your business.

Once identified, streamline processes by eliminating unnecessary steps and standardizing procedures, leveraging automation and technology solutions wherever possible. Regularly update standard operating procedures to remain agile in response to changing market dynamics. Invest in employee training and development to ensure your team has the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in their roles. 

READ: 3 Trends That Will Shape Business in 2024 — Digital Tools, Labor Markets and Strategic Partnerships

3. Grow your customer base and relationships

Growing your customer base and nurturing relationships early on in your business is crucial for long-term success and potential exit strategies. Start by defining your target audience and developing a strong brand identity that resonates with them. Implement targeted marketing strategies across various channels and prioritize exceptional customer service to ensure satisfaction. Track key metrics to measure the health of your customer base and stay agile by adapting strategies based on market trends and feedback. 

4. Build human capital

First and foremost, prioritize investing in comprehensive training and development programs to enhance the skills and expertise of your workforce. This not only improves productivity but also adds significant value to the business.

Secondly, foster a positive workplace culture characterized by collaboration, innovation and inclusivity. A positive environment boosts employee satisfaction and retention, which can positively impact the company’s valuation.

Thirdly, ensure that employees understand and align with the company’s goals and objectives. By linking individual goals to the overall business strategy, you maximize productivity and efficiency, making the business more attractive to investors or buyers.

Additionally, provide clear career progression paths within the organization to demonstrate a commitment to employee growth. Regular performance evaluations and feedback sessions help employees understand their potential and contribute to the company’s success.

READ: Navigating the New Era of Employee Engagement — Everything You Need to Know

5. Build a strong management team

Building a strong management team early in your business is crucial, even if you cannot afford top talent.

Start by identifying individuals with potential, passion and a willingness to learn, rather than solely focusing on high-profile candidates. Offer equity or performance-based compensation to align the interests of the management team with the company’s success. Invest in the development of less experienced candidates, providing training, mentorship and opportunities for growth within the company.

Leverage your professional network and seek referrals to find suitable candidates who may be a good fit for your business. Consider part-time or contract roles to access specialized skills and expertise without committing to full-time salaries. Emphasize the company’s mission, values and culture when recruiting, highlighting the opportunity to make a meaningful impact and be part of a dynamic team.

6. Double down on your marketing and positioning

Tailor your approach to your business’s unique needs and goals. Identify your target audience and focus on high-impact strategies that resonate with them, rather than trying to cover all possible marketing channels.

Analyze competitors to find gaps and opportunities in the market, and be willing to experiment with new approaches to stay ahead. Measure and iterate on your marketing efforts, using data to optimize your campaigns for better results.

Stay true to your brand and seek professional guidance if needed to ensure your marketing efforts align with your business objectives. By taking a strategic and selective approach, you can maximize the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and position your business for success.

While the prospect of exit planning may seem distant or unnecessary for some business owners, strategic preparation extends far beyond the eventual sale. Early planning fosters strategic decision-making, financial optimization, and organizational resilience, positioning your business as a valuable asset. 


Jill Simonds is the founder of Savvy Strategic Partners, a fractional C-suite specializing in propelling businesses — from early-stage startups to medium-sized enterprises — toward accelerated success. Jill serves businesses as a COO & Integrator (EOS®). Savvy Strategic Partners help business owners grow the value of their business, the power in their operational structure, and the health in their people and teams.