1)  External Buyers:  These transactions are called Mergers & Acquisitions.

Privately held companies can be sold to a competitor for strategic reasons, someone new to the market, or a private equity firm. Going Public is another way for owners to sell their interests; however, an IPO is very costly.

2)  Internal Buyers:  Family, Executives, Employees

It used to be common for owners to leave a business to a family member.  Today, executive managers and employees are typically better candidates.  They may receive equity or stock options as part of a compensation package.  Employee Stock Ownership Plans offer companies significant tax benefits without turning their employees into "shareholders."  Conversions to worker-owned Cooperative Associations are terrific vehicles for passing a family-owned business to the employees.

3)  No Buyers = Business Liquidation

If a business owner hasn't created a succession plan the business will eventually go away.  The result is a total loss to the business owner or the owner's family.


Too often we see business owners forced to liquidate, often the least valuable option.  With some advance planning you can be prepared for a much better outcome for yourself and your family.

Business Succession is what happens to the company when a founder or executive owner leaves the business.  

A business succession strategy contemplates transfer of the business upon owner retirement or any other voluntary choice of an owner to leave. The goal is to preserve the value of the business so that it continues successfully and the outgoing owners are compensated for their part in creating the ongoing value. 

A thoughtful buy/sell agreement will outline the business owner's specific desires for making changes if unexpected events occur like death, disability or financial hardship.  This is often part of a company operating agreement or partnership agreement.

Selling or exiting a business takes long-term strategic planning.  Don't wait until it's too late.

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