You probably didn't start a business to daydream about giving it up. But all good things must end, and if you want to be sure your hard work will have a permanent payoff, you need to plan for your eventual retirement. Strategic thinking "should be started as soon as possible," says Roy Messing, director of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University. Follow our timeline to get your business in shape for you to step back, so what you built will survive for generations.

 inline image