Business Succession Series: What to do five years out when selling
Once a small business owner reaches a certain age, it becomes inevitable that they’ll begin thinking about retirement and how they’re going to separate themselves from the business. There are multiple routes that an entrepreneur can take when creating a succession plan. But the fork in the road that every business owner must face if they’ll sell the business or hand it down to a loved one.
Entrepreneurs who decide to sell should put the business succession plan into motion at least five years prior to retirement. Business owners should decide if they’re going to sell to an external or internal buyer. If they don’t have a likely successor lined up, they’ll have to focus on finding an individual who is able to financially buy the company. This task is often easier said than done.
The stronger your team, the easier it will be to maximize the value of the company. At the beginning of this five year period, entrepreneurs should evaluate the business structure to ensure that they have the proper internal and external team in place. It’s also crucial to make sure they have the right CPA and financial advisor to handle employee benefits.
Accomplishing these tasks at the beginning of the five year period will make it easier for the business to be sold to the new owner effectively and will help maximize profit.
It’s important to note that many want to keep the original owner involved for the first few years. If the original owner wants to retire by a specific age, it’s important for them to decide if they will stay on board in an auxiliary role. If they want to sell the business right away, they may be taking a large percent off of the sale price.
Continue growing the business. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t slow down the last two years before retirement. This is an excellent time to grow and continue maximizing the business to obtain a larger sales price.
Selling a business is more work than putting up a for sale sign. During the final two years, a business owner should begin talking to business brokers and creating a strategy for how they will sell their business. Because most entrepreneurs have a sense of loyalty to their employees, they should be looking for a buyer who is a cultural fit, will continue the business, and will offer the employees growth opportunities.
Executing these steps while planning for retirement may seem overwhelming venture. During this time, it’s important that business owners remain flexible with their plan and timeline horizon. If the sale goes as planned, they will have set themselves up for a financially secure retirement and ensured that the business is prepared for its next successful phase.