As you begin to explore the exit process, identifying the key differences between strategic and financial buyers can help you understand their decision-making processes. Clarifying what each type of buyer is seeking can help you decide which fits your situation best. “Write down what your perfect buyer would look like,” suggests Lopez. “Really challenge yourself to think about what life looks like without the business. What are the things you need to commit to get that done? What are the things you need to let go of?”

Adds Phil Akin, a Vistage Chair in Waterloo, IA, “It always gets back to the question of what you want. Do you want a check? Do you want a legacy? I’m constantly coaching CEOs to help them clarify what their goals are so that they can formulate a strategy for their decision-making process. At the end of the day, many don’t know what they want so it can be hard for them to get there. CEOs and owners are constantly coming from a place of fear. It comes back to security and safety, and sometimes they just need a little bit of reassurance.” Your desired personal and financial outcomes in a sale will impact the type of acquirer that fits you best.