Investing Rulebook

How to Create a Business Succession Plan

The Ongoing Battle for Small Business Owners: Planning for RetirementAs a small business owner, you know that positive cash flow and a stable balance sheet are crucial for success. However, while you focus on running your business day in and day out, it’s important not to neglect planning for the future, specifically your retirement.

Many small business owners find themselves in an ongoing battle, as they struggle to balance the time-consuming demands of their business with the need to prepare for retirement. In this article, we’ll explore the necessary steps for a successful business succession plan, including picking a successor and valuing your business.

The Time-Consuming Battle

Being a small business owner is a full-time job, often consuming your time and energy. The thought of retirement is often pushed aside, as urgent tasks take priority.

However, it’s essential to carve out time to plan for your future, ensuring that you have a smooth transition into retirement. It’s not uncommon for small business owners to face challenges in maintaining a positive cash flow and stable balance sheet while also planning for retirement.

One key aspect of preparing for retirement is to build a business that can generate ongoing cash flow. This requires a strategic approach that involves implementing systems and processes to ensure the business can run smoothly without your constant presence.

By establishing a capable team and delegating responsibilities, you can create a strong foundation that will support you even after retirement.

Steps for a Successful Succession Plan

A business succession plan is essential for a smooth transition into retirement. This plan outlines how your business will be transferred or sold upon your departure.

By having a well-thought-out succession plan in place, you can ensure that your hard work and dedication continue to benefit you and your loved ones even after you retire. The first step in creating a successful succession plan is to determine who will take over your business.

You have several options, including selling the business to a family member, passing it down to a trusted assistant, or partnering with key employees. Each option has its pros and cons, and it’s important to consider the dynamics and future goals of your business before making a decision.

To avoid potential resentment within your family, it’s crucial to have open and honest discussions about succession. Clearly communicating your intentions and involving family members early in the process can help alleviate tension and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Moreover, it’s highly recommended to consider a buy-sell agreement. This legal contract sets out the terms and conditions for the transfer of your ownership interest.

By having a buy-sell agreement in place, you can provide a fair and orderly process for transitioning ownership and ensure the financial security of both the retiring owner and the successor.

Picking a Successor

Choosing the right successor is a critical decision that will impact the future of your business. There are several factors to consider when selecting someone to take over your business.

While family members may seem like a natural choice, it’s crucial to assess their qualifications and commitment to the business. Hiring an outside expert or utilizing a professional consulting service can provide an objective perspective and help you make an informed decision.

Another consideration is whether to sell your business to a family member, assistant, or partner. Selling to a family member can ensure business continuity and keep it within the family.

However, be wary of potential conflicts of interest and differing visions for the future of the business. Selling to a trusted assistant can be beneficial if they have demonstrated the skills and dedication required to maintain and grow the business.

Alternatively, partnering with key employees can distribute the responsibilities and ensure a smooth transition. Business Valuation – What’s Your Business Worth?

Before you can determine how to transfer or sell your business, you need to know its value. Business valuation involves assessing the worth of your business, taking into account various factors such as its assets, earnings, and market value.

A certified public accountant or a business appraiser can assist you in determining an accurate valuation. It’s important to note that business valuation can be complex and subjective.

While there are standard methods to assess value, such as the appraisal of tangible assets, there are also arbitrary agreements based on industry norms or publicly-traded stock. Regardless of the method used, it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of your business’s value to ensure a fair and equitable transfer of ownership.


Planning for retirement as a small business owner may feel like an ongoing battle, but it’s a battle worth fighting. By dedicating time and resources to creating a business succession plan, you can ensure a smooth transition into retirement.

Picking the right successor and valuing your business accurately are crucial steps in this process. As you focus on the day-to-day operations of your business, remember to prioritize planning for your future.

The rewards of a successful retirement plan are well worth the effort.

Life Insurance as a Standard Transfer Vehicle

When it comes to planning for the transfer of a deceased partner’s share in a business, life insurance can be a valuable tool. Life insurance policies provide a death benefit, which can be used to buy out the deceased partner’s share and ensure a smooth transition of ownership.

There are two common types of life insurance agreements used in this context: cross-purchase agreements and entity-purchase agreements. In a cross-purchase agreement, each partner takes out a life insurance policy on the other partners.

In the event of a partner’s death, the surviving partners use the death benefit to purchase the deceased partner’s share of the business. This arrangement can be particularly beneficial when there are only a few partners involved.

Each partner has control over their own policy and can ensure the necessary funds are available if they or a partner pass away. Entity-purchase agreements, on the other hand, involve the business itself taking out life insurance policies on each partner.

In the event of a partner’s death, the business is the beneficiary of the policy and uses the death benefit to buy out the deceased partner’s share. This type of agreement is often more practical when there are a large number of partners involved.

It would be impractical for each partner to have policies on every other partner, and underwriting costs could be prohibitive. Instead, the entity-purchase agreement allows the business to hold the insurance policies and manage the process more efficiently.

Underwriting and Costs in Entity-Purchase Agreements

While entity-purchase agreements can simplify the process of life insurance in a partnership with a large number of partners, there are some factors to consider. One of the main considerations is the underwriting process and the associated costs.

Underwriting is the process by which the insurance company assesses the risks involved in providing coverage. When it comes to entity-purchase agreements, the underwriting process may be more complex due to the number of partners involved.

Each partner’s health, age, and other factors will be taken into account, which can lead to higher costs for the policies. Businesses considering entity-purchase agreements should carefully evaluate the potential costs involved in securing these policies.

The cost of acquiring and maintaining the policies should be weighed against the potential benefits of a smooth business succession plan. It may be necessary to work closely with a financial advisor or insurance professional to find the most cost-effective solution for your specific situation.

The Benefits of a Well-Planned Succession

A well-planned succession can bring numerous benefits to both the retiring owner and the business itself. One of the primary advantages is the ability to transfer ownership at an agreeable price.

By having a clear valuation and succession plan in place, potential buyers or successors can be confident in the value they are receiving and the terms of the transfer. Life insurance policies can play a crucial role in facilitating a smooth transfer upon the death of a partner.

In the event of a partner’s passing, the death benefit from the life insurance policy can provide the necessary funds to buy out their share of the business. This ensures that the business can continue to operate without disruption and that the deceased partner’s family receives a fair settlement for their interest.

Furthermore, a well-planned succession can protect the business from the risk of an external takeover. Without a clear plan in place, competing interests and uncertainties can arise upon the death or retirement of an owner.

These situations can lead to prolonged disputes and even the potential loss of the business. A well-executed succession plan allows for a timely settlement and ensures the business remains in capable hands.

Preparation for a Smooth and Equitable Transition

Preparing for a successful business succession requires careful planning and a competent advisor. To begin, it is vital to consult with a knowledgeable professional who understands the intricacies of business valuation and succession planning.

This advisor can help determine the fair value of the business and offer guidance on structuring the transition. In addition to seeking professional advice, it is crucial to involve key stakeholders, such as family members or employees, in the planning process.

Open and honest communication with all parties involved can help avoid potential conflicts and ensure a smooth transition. By including the perspectives and concerns of those who will be affected, you can address any issues proactively and create a plan that is fair and beneficial to all.

Preparing for a business transition also requires careful consideration of financial matters. This includes reviewing contracts, agreements, and legal documents to ensure they align with your succession plan.

It may be necessary to update or create new agreements, such as buy-sell agreements or partnership agreements, to reflect the intended transfer of ownership. In conclusion, planning for a business succession is a critical decision that requires careful consideration and professional guidance.

By utilizing tools such as life insurance policies and entity-purchase agreements, you can ensure a smooth and equitable transition of ownership. It is important to seek the advice of competent advisors and involve key stakeholders in the planning process.

With thorough preparation, you can secure the future of your business and achieve a successful transition.

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