Sell your business and retire. That was your game plan when you first became a business owner. Or at least that was the idea that you had in mind. Actually, you hoped that you would build up your business and be able to sell it to fund your retirement. Your nest-egg. The golden parachute. Your ticket to a carefree retirement.

Fast forward and you are in your sixties. You still come into the office each morning and wonder how you will ever be able to retire when no one knows your business as well as you do. None of your family members want to take it over, or have the funds to purchase it from you. You wonder what your business is even worth. All the blood, sweat, and tears you poured into this business over the years have boiled down to this moment. There is no one knocking at your door to purchase your company. When you began all those years ago, you were absolutely certain that the offers would be pouring in by now.

Newsflash: It doesn’t “just happen.”

Here are some steps to take in order to create an actionable strategy to position your business to be sold and subsequently fund your retirement:

Determine the value of your company. Exiting your business is a life-altering decision, understanding the true value of your business is an instrumental first step in determining how to harvest your wealth for retirement. Keep in mind that there can be a difference between the valuation and a sales price, as the market will dictate a sales price based on current market conditions, timing and opportunity. An objective, third party valuation will give you insight into market conditions and areas to be improved in your business. Your business may be the largest asset you own, know what it is worth.

Build value in your business – know your value drivers, strengthen your leadership team, ensure you have a proper entity structure, streamline operations.

Choose your buyer. There are many options when it comes to selling a business, and if planned ahead of time, you control which option most closely aligns with your vision. For example, a financial buyer is most interested in your asset value; may use a multiple of cash flow or profit, and is only concerned with ROI-Return On Investment. A strategic buyer (usually pays more than a financial buyer) may be a vertical buyer, a horizontal buyer, a regional buyer or a market share buyer. While ROI is still of importance, a fit for their existing operations is equally as important.

Consider how you want to exit. Leave immediately or transition over a set period of time. What kind of transition do you want?

Align with an advisory team that will prepare, market, and execute a sale on your behalf. Advisors play a critical role in maximizing value. They take emotions out of the equation and allow for objective assessment of each potential acquirer.

Live your life to its fullest in retirement. Success is about reaching your dreams!