June 14, 2023

How to Exit Your Startup with a Profit: A Step-by-Step Guide


Starting a business is a risky proposition, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. If you're lucky enough to build a successful startup, you may eventually want to exit the business and cash out your investment.

There are a number of ways to exit a startup, but the most common is through an acquisition. When a larger company buys your startup, you'll typically receive a payout in cash or stock. This can be a great way to realise the value of your hard work and investment.

In this blog post, we'll walk you through the steps on how to exit your startup with a profit. We'll cover everything from setting your exit goals to negotiating the terms of the sale.

Step 1: Set Your Exit Goals

The first step in exiting your startup is to set your exit goals. What do you want to achieve by selling your business? Do you want to cash out your investment and retire? Do you want to use the proceeds to start a new business? Or do you want to stay on with the acquiring company in a leadership role?

Once you know what you want to achieve, you can start to develop a plan to achieve your goals.

Consider thinking about the following questions when setting your exit goals:

  • How much money do you want to make from the sale?
  • What kind of future role do you want to have with the acquiring company?
  • What are your personal and professional goals for the future?

Step 2: Get Your Business Ready to Sell

Before you start shopping your business around, you need to make sure it's ready to sell. This means getting your finances in order, cleaning up your legal paperwork, and making sure your business is profitable.

Here are some things you need to do to get your business ready to sell:

  • Get your finances in order. This includes creating a financial statement that shows your business's assets, liabilities, and equity. You should also have a clear understanding of your business's cash flow.
  • Clean up your legal paperwork. This includes making sure your business is properly incorporated or registered, and that you have all the necessary licenses and permits. You should also have a clear understanding of your business's intellectual property.
  • Make sure your business is profitable. This means showing that your business is generating more revenue than expenses. You should also have a clear understanding of your business's growth potential.

Step 3: Find a Buyer

Once your business is ready to sell, you need to find a buyer.

There are a number of ways to do this, including:

  • Working with a business broker
  • Networking with potential acquirers
  • Listing your business on an online marketplace

Our top tips when trying to find a buyer:

  • Start by networking with potential acquirers. Attend industry events, reach out to other startup founders who have sold their businesses, and talk to your investors.
  • List your business on an online marketplace. There are a number of online marketplaces where you can list your business for sale.
  • Work with a business broker. A business broker can help you find a buyer for your business and negotiate the terms of the sale.

Step 4: Negotiate the Terms of the Sale

Once you've found a potential buyer, you'll need to start negotiating the terms of the sale. This includes the price, the payment terms, and the future role of the founders.

Founders should keep the following in mind when negotiating the terms of the sale:

  • The price is the most important factor in the sale of your business. You should start by doing your research to determine the fair market value of your business.
  • The payment terms are also important. You'll need to decide how much of the purchase price you want in cash and how much you want in stock.
  • The future role of the founders is also important. You may want to stay on with the acquiring company in a leadership role, or you may want to move on to a new challenge.

Step 5: Close the Deal

Once you've agreed on the terms of the sale, it's time to close the deal. This involves signing all the necessary paperwork and transferring ownership of the business.

Keep these things in mind when closing the deal:

  • Make sure you have a lawyer review all the paperwork before you sign it.
  • Make sure you get paid the full purchase price in a timely manner.
  • Make sure you have a clear understanding of the terms of the sale, including the payment terms

Step 6: Enjoy Your Profits

Once the deal is closed, you can start to enjoy your profits. You can use the money to retire, start a new business, or invest in other ventures.

Think about taking some time to celebrate your success before making a clear plan for how you're going to use the money. Don't be afraid to invest in yourself and your future.


As the process is so complex, do consider seeking professional help. If you're not familiar with selling a business, it's a good idea to source a business broker or attorney. It can take some time to find a buyer for your business, so have patience and don't get discouraged if you don't get an offer right away. We also recommend being prepared to compromise. You may not get everything you want in the sale of your business, so be willing to compromise on some of your terms in order to get the deal done.

Founders should consider the state of the market. The market conditions can have a significant impact on the value of your business. If the market is hot, you're more likely to get a good price for your business. Your personal situation, such as your age, health, and financial goals, will also play a role in your exit decision. If you're planning to stay on with the acquiring company, you'll need to consider what role you want to play in the future of the business.

Exiting a startup is a big decision, but it can be a very rewarding one. By following the tips and advice in this blog post, you can increase your chances of selling your business for a profit and achieving your personal and professional goals.

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