3130I spend a lot of time here on Merge talking about how to enter the market with your start-up business idea, but what about the other end of the process—the exit strategy? Believe it or not, this is something you should be thinking about as part of your business planning process. In fact, planning your exit can be a big influence on your entire strategy.

When Lisa and I were building HealthSimple, the notion that the experience could culminate in an acquisition was the farthest thing from our minds—and it shouldn’t have been. Even if that was not our primary objective in building the business, we should have been more prepared than we were for this possibility. Had we taken some simple steps early in the process, we would have been in a much better position when the topic of acquisition became a reality.

Of course there are many options—acquisition being one—for how you can envision the “other end” of the business journey. Liquidation, IPO, and simply selling to a friendly buyer are other options.

The key to remember is that these things usually don’t happen by accident. I found this useful overview of exit strategy options on Entrepreneur.com by business consultant and blogger Stever Robbins . Robbins provides digestible pro-and-con lists for each of his strategies.

Succession planning is another aspect of the business building process that often gets overlooked. What happens when the goals of your business no longer match up with your skills as a leader? One of the options you have is to find new leaders who are better suited to carry the torch. Entrepreneur Michelle White faced this dilemma with her dietary supplement business, and her story is told in this BusinessWeek profile.