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Retiring From Your Business – Exit Strategy Considerations

By Joshua Berkley
Attorney

Planning for retirement involves a range of considerations for business owners in Kentucky. A well-structured business exit strategy ensures a smooth transition and financial stability in later years. In Kentucky, where diverse businesses thrive from agriculture to manufacturing, understanding the local market dynamics, legal implications, and tax obligations is essential for crafting an effective exit plan. Whether your business plan for retirement is a sale, succession, or merger, selecting the right exit path is necessary to ensure it aligns with both your personal retirement goals and the sustainable future of the business.

Discussion Of Various Business Exit Strategies

Selling the Business

  1. Selling to a Third Party: This is one of the most straightforward exit strategies. The business owner puts the business on the market to find an external buyer. This tactic may be beneficial because it might result in a high selling price, especially if the company is profitable and has a good market position. However, finding the right buyer can take time, and the business needs to be appealing to attract serious offers.
  2. Selling to a Competitor: Sometimes, selling to a competitor can be advantageous as they may pay a premium for your customer base, geographic area, or specific products/services. This kind of sale can be quicker but requires careful negotiation to ensure a fair valuation.

Family Succession

Passing the business to a family member is a common strategy in Kentucky, especially for family-owned businesses. This can ensure the legacy of the business while providing for a smoother transition. However, it is necessary to select a family member that is willing and capable of running the business. It also requires careful planning to avoid family disputes and ensure a fair transfer of ownership.

Employee Buyout

An Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) or management buyout allows employees to purchase the business. This can be advantageous because the employees are usually the ones familiar with the business and have a vested interest in its success. However, financing the buyout can be complicated, and it requires significant planning and legal work.

 Mergers and Acquisitions

Merging with or being acquired by another business can be a helpful exit strategy. This can be a way to obtain immediate liquidity and an excellent way to ensure the continued operation of the company under new ownership. However, it requires finding a compatible partner and can involve complex negotiations and due diligence.

Liquidation

If the above exit strategies are not viable options, closing the business and liquidating assets is another way. This can be the simplest way to exit the business, but it might yield the lowest return. It can be suitable for businesses that do not have a clear successor or cannot be sold.

Planning Considerations For Exiting Your Business

Start planning your exit strategy well in advance of your desired retirement age. This gives you time to improve the business’s value and select the right buyer or successor. Make sure that you understand the value of your business. This may involve hiring a professional appraiser or consultant to get an accurate figure. The economic climate in Kentucky and your specific industry can significantly impact the best exit strategy. For example, if the market is experiencing an upturn, it might be better to consider selling as soon as possible. 

Each exit strategy has different tax implications. Understanding these can help you choose the most tax-efficient method and avoid surprises down the road. You might want to consult with an accountant or financial advisor to analyze the tax implications of your exit strategy. Lastly, you should consult with an attorney who specializes in business transitions. They can provide invaluable assistance with respect to your plan and the structuring of your agreement.

Contact a Shelby County Attorney Today

By considering these different strategies and planning ahead, you can ensure a smoother transition into retirement while maximizing the benefits from your years of hard work in running the business.
Since the laws are complicated involving exit planning strategies involving your business, you may wish to consult with an attorney knowledgeable in this field to help you navigate throughout the entire planning and transfer process. Contact Berkley Oliver to help ensure a successful transition of your business on your way to retirement.

About the Author
Josh Berkley is an attorney and owner at Berkley Oliver PLLC who helps individuals implement plans to protect their assets and their loved ones. Josh focuses his practice in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law.  From assisting young parents in making a plan to provide for their children, to helping senior clients qualify for Medicaid, Josh works with clients to create estate plans and life plans tailored to each person’s specific goals. He also helps clients with a wide variety of important legal documents such Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designations, and Living Wills. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Josh here.