Most business owners start out with a vision of success but not always a plan for exit. An exit strategy lays out how the owners will exit he business and how they will “cash out.” This implies that a business should have value of its own outside of its owners — and it absolutely should. Sometimes that value is the process of providing the goods and services, other times it’s the goods or services themselves or the customers, name and goodwill are the core value of the company and in many cases, it’s a combination of all three. Regardless of where the core value of your business resides, it is important that you plan how you will develop and grow that value so that it can be transferred to a buyer or other third party upon you leaving the business. Value in business can only exist if it can hold its own without the owner being present. It is built and developed through relationships with key vendors, strong branding, and creation and protection of intellectual property. To create and protect this value, you must be proactive in looking at how contracts are drafted, how employees are incented, and how intellectual property is managed, licensed, and protected. Don’t wait until you’re close to exit to think through these things… be proactive and intentional about growing the value of your business through smart business decisions.

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