HomeBlogBusiness ProcessWe reveal all the ways you can exit your business

We reveal all the ways you can exit your business

Wondering about ways to exist your business? If you have a business, you should have an exit strategy in place as early as possible. This might sound counterproductive – to be thinking about how you’re going to get out before you’re really in – but this is commonplace in business and not unusual at all. It’s actually advisable, because having an idea about where your business is going, including how and when you intend to leave it behind, helps you to make strategic decisions on your journey. When reflecting, lots of business owners say they wish they had planned ahead. Trust us, if someone makes an offer on your business, it’s going to be much easier to make the personal decision and to have the conversation with partners if you’ve already agreed when you’d be ready to exit.

There are different exit options to choose from and before you make the decision you should know about each one in advance. We’ve presented them below for you to consider.

Sell to a strategic buyer

This is probably the most commonly considered exit strategy. Everyone hopes for a multi-million dollar investment from Google or Facebook. This option means selling to a larger company, and usually involves you leaving the business. They’ll pay a lot of money because they know they can save costs.

It is important that you recognise that selling and exiting in this way will likely mean some of your staff are made redundant.

Sell to a financial institution

Decisions to buy into an organisation for investment purposes are usually made based on return on investment across a three to five year time period. This means the organisation might want an exit strategy themselves, or they might ‘invest and hold’ for as long as it is worth their while.

Sell to a co-founder

This is usually the easiest way to exit. If one partner wants to leave, then there’s always the option for remaining partners to buy them out. If you’re on good terms, this can be a really enjoyable experience, and you can rest easy knowing that your co-founder wants what is best for the business, because they love it as much as you do.

Transfer to a member of your family

This often happens when you are ready to retire and a younger member of the family has been primed to take your place. Selling to your child or another family member means there’s an ongoing relationship with the business and might feel easier than selling to another company. You also have the option here to be flexible, choosing to transfer ownership gradually or quickly, depending on your desires and requirements.


MBO stands for Management Buyout and means that you sell your business to employees. This means you can almost guarantee that it is being operated by people who care about its success and are experienced in running it.


Another acronym. ESPO stands for Employee Stock Ownership Plan, and is where you sell your business to your staff via a trust. You should bear in mind that your business will likely sell for less in this scenario.

IPO (Initial Public Offering)

This is the rarest and most complicated method of exit. It involves offering shares in your company for sale to the public. Most companies do not qualify for this in the first place, but if you do there are amazing benefits. You should be aware that everyone will know everything about your business if you choose this option. If you think this is the choice for you, you should be worth a significant amount of money, and speak to an investment banker.

Passive ownership

If you have a first class leadership team, this is a great option for you. You can step back and run the company silently, and let your talented team take charge. If you choose this option, you will remain in control, but you will not lead the company and the business will no longer depend on you. You’ll input on the strategy, but you won’t run the day-to-day operations. There might also be the opportunity to sell to a staff member in the future and exit the business completely.


In this option, current owners fund the exit through the business, sometimes by taking a loan, or by selling part of the company to a new investor.

Closing the business

This is typically the least favourite option for most business owners, and we understand why. Nobody wants to see their business end. But sometimes a business has no other option, so you should think about this seriously. Liquidating your assets might give you the highest profits. If you work in an industry that is on the out, consider doing this early. It’s hard, it will hurt your employees, but waiting until your company is no longer worth anything will hurt absolutely everyone.


If you’re thinking of making a major change within your business, Yorkshire Change can help. Call 0333 090 8710 to speak to a dedicated member of our team.

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