This white paper from the Exit Planning Institute is a great resource to get any business owner started in understanding what they need to do to prepare for a great business exit. This paper outlines our 2 plan strategy (owner's plan & business growth plan) and our Know-to-Grow-to-Sell process in slightly different ways, but at its core, the key to a great exit is to build a great team that has proven it can grow the business regardless of your involvement.
The most critical point is to give yourself enough time to make that business growth transformation. You should allow at least 2 years for the leadership team to set their own vision & prove their abilities. The greater the lead time, the greater the value growth for your exit.