Small- to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) are the product of entrepreneurs who are equally passionate about their product as they are about helping clients.
If a business proves successful there will be a need to consider how the company develops and what it means for the long-term future of its founders. 
Planning for long-term exit strategies closer to retirement or outlining scenarios of multiple emergency sale plans due to company or market factors can both be included in the overall business plan of the organisation.
More often than not, owners make the decision to sell a viable business due to one of three key reasons: they lack capital to further develop the business; they’ve been approached by one or more parties looking to buy the business; or they’re looking to raise the profile of the business (for example, via an IPO) .
The decision to sell one’s business requires deliberation and does not materialise overnight.
Working on exit plans ahead of time can ensure a company’s sustainability, efficiency and success.
Corporate governance offers the guidelines for companies to become transparent, structured and consequently more investable.
Business owners should conduct regular reviews to determine whether their business objectives are best met through continued ownership, new equity, or a divestment (partial or full). 
In preparation for the sale, an extensive exit readiness exercise should ideally be conducted up to 18 months in advance.
The business will need to be appropriately packaged to maximise the probability of a transaction with the most likely buyer group (i.e. private equity vs strategic). 
Despite recent market turmoil, a healthy investment appetite for SMEs exists within the health care, education as well as specialist manufacturing sectors.
However, in the absence of thorough exit readiness planning, it is unlikely that a seller would realise their price expectations for the business.
The planning process is therefore critical, and the cornerstone of this exit readiness is the preparation of an exit strategy that takes into account operational, financial and strategic business considerations.
— The writer is a manager in Deloitte’s Corporate Finance Advisory Team and presented a breakfast talk last week on Exit Strategies for SMEs, arranged by the British Business Group at Jumeirah Emirates Towers