You have built a business that provides a strong income and comfortable lifestyle. However, if you are like most business owners you haven’t made the time to know the range of options you have to successfully exit the business and transfer your wealth. The tax, legal, valuation, deal structure, and insurance considerations are many. Even if you had the time, where do you begin?
Before you can evaluate any of these options, you must first decide what your goals are. Are there other owners to consider? If so, are their goals similar or different than yours? What personal and family issues do you want to consider? Are you strictly looking for the best price? Are you tax sensitive? Have charitable intent? Are you financially prepared? Mentally? The earlier you begin planning, the more options you will have at your disposal.
Once you have determined your goals, you can begin to narrow the list of exit options available to you. Do you intend on doing an internal transfer to a key employee or employees? Family member? Is an ESOP a viable alternative? Is your estate plan designed around your desired exit? Are contingencies planned for and protections in place?
Whether you plan to transfer your interest internally or to a third party, knowing how much your business is worth is a great starting point. Internal and external transfers can imply different valuation standards that can render very different values. You want to know these differences before you make a decision. A business valuation will also give you a good idea if the transfer can be financed.
What is your time horizon? More time is better, especially for external sales. Is the business saleable as is? Aspects of your operations may need improvement before you go to market. How do you select an M&A advisor?
The earlier you begin planning your exit, the more options you will have at your disposal.
Achieving a successful business transfer requires a process. An M&A broker/advisor can lead this process and guide and coordinate the professionals required to help you reach your goals. An owner can attempt to lead this process on their own, but it’s not easy. Your time is probably best spent running your business at peak performance. Still, it’s up to you to appoint a competent adviser to guide the process and ensure that your other professional advisors are on board and up to the task.
For a confidential conversation regarding your exit options, contact one of our senior advisors.