“If You Are at or Near Retirement Age, You Should Consider Beginning the Steps of Selling Your Business as Soon as Possible.”

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Retirement Planning for Business Owners

The decision to retire from a business you have built and put your heart and soul into isn’t an easy one. Most business owners feel very attached to their companies. And why shouldn’t they? When you create something so extraordinary it is a major achievement of your life. A successful company is more than just a job. It is a reflection of your accomplishments. We understand this and know that making a decision to sell can be a very difficult step for a business owner to take.

But everyone needs to let go at some point. The question about whether you should sell your business shouldn’t be about IF you’re going to sell, but rather about WHEN is the best time to sell. You won’t live forever and it is important to plan for this very definite future event. 

Health Concerns

Don’t wait until your health forces you sell. Putting yourself in the position of having to sell for health reasons could possibly have very negative consequences. Here are some examples. 

1. Buyers may learn of your health problems and believe that you will be far more flexible in your price and terms than if you were healthy and weren’t forced to sell.
2. If you will be needed to stay on with the business due to your special expertise and experience, buyers may be less willing to buy knowing that your health situation may cause you to be unable to assist with a smooth transition.
3. A successful sale may take longer than you expect and you may be in a race to sell at unfavorable terms before your health problems eventually force you to leave your business and either run it with a less-capable manager or shut it down completely.
4. If you sell after your health begins to decline, you’ll miss out on getting the most out of your retirement years. Most retirees look forward to traveling and being active at this time of their lives. 

But everyone needs to let go at some point. The question about whether you should sell your business shouldn’t be about IF you’re going to sell, but rather about WHEN is the best time to sell. You won’t live forever and it is important to plan for this very definite future event. 

Economic Factors

One never knows how the economy and competition will affect business in the future.

1. How many could have predicted the economic bust in 2007-2008? Even if your company is not doing as well as it once was, how can you be sure that it will do better if you wait longer? You should sell your business when it has established profitability. If now is that time then consider selling when the going is good even if it isn’t the best ever.
2. Your competition could change. If the competitive environment for your business is good now, can you be certain that more competitors won’t move in and cause a reduction in your sales revenues and profit margins, which may cause your business to sell for a much lower price in the future?
3. The product or service that you sell may become less necessary or desirable in the future as consumers change their consumption habits or needs. You always want to sell while the going is good because you never know what the future will hold.

The Baby Boom Effect

You are a baby boomer if you were born in the Post-World War II period from 1946 to 1964. The first baby boomers hit the age of 65 in 2011. 

1. As time goes on more and more boomers will reach retirement age and put their businesses up for sale. In the next 10 years, the U.S. economy will experience a record number of businesses for sale as baby boomer owners begin their retirement. The result will be a huge increase in the number of businesses for sale.
2. An increase in the number of businesses for sale may cause significant downward price pressure in the business-for-sale market. Buyers will have many more business purchase options to choose from. We will likely enter a market that strongly favors buyers at some point.
3. Most baby boomer owners have the bulk of their assets tied up in their businesses and are planning to use the proceeds from the sale to fund retirements and to pass assets along to heirs. The longer you wait, the more you risk your family’s economic future.

We realize that selling a business you have spent years developing and nurturing is a difficult decision to confront, but we feel it is vital that we pass these points along so you can consider them as you make the very important decision of when the appropriate time is to sell your business.

Steps to take now

If you are a business owner at or near retirement then you should consider the following steps:

1. Talk to your accountant. Have you had this discussion yet? Your accountant will likely have very beneficial tax advice for you. This is really important.
2. Talk to your financial advisor. You may need a restructuring of your personal and business investments at this critical stage of your life. If you don’t have an investment advisor, let us know. We can refer you to some very qualified individuals.
3. Talk to an estate planning and/or and elder care attorney. If you haven’t already done this, its never too late. Do you have a will? What will happen to your assets as you get older? The time to start planning is now.
3. Talk to a business broker. Even if you aren’t ready to sell today, it is still good to have the discussion. In many cases we can offer you advice about the structure of your business and changes you should make now that will significantly benefit your future sale. We don’t charge anything for this service and you will be under no obligation.

Thanks for listening! If you would like help with the sale of your business please contact us as soon as possible.

Peter Goodman, CBI
President, Goodman and Company Business Brokers