Business Succession Planning

July 14, 2023

Make preparations to exit on your own terms

By Jennifer Osgood

If you’re a business owner, you’ve likely poured your heart and soul into your business, and it’s hard to imagine how it will go on without you. However, statistics show that the business you’ve worked so hard to create and grow will eventually be owned by someone else. You will either give up the helm voluntarily when you retire, or involuntarily due to an unexpected event.

These potential changes underscore why succession planning for business owners is so important. By creating a succession plan today, you can make decisions that will steer your company even when you’re no longer in charge.

Thanks to a certain hit streaming show, “succession” has become a bit of a buzzword recently. In reality, succession planning doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Business owners may be too busy dealing with everyday demands to devote time to the multifaceted issues succession planning presents. Building a solid succession plan is a complex and continuous process that starts with examining your goals, then building and improving on them over time. Having a solid exit strategy for your business is critical for the well-being of your family, partners, and employees.

Every succession plan has its own complexities, but there are a few basics that all business owners should consider.


Whether you’re gifting your business to heirs, transferring ownership to partners, or selling to a third party, you’ll need to fairly assess its value. Owners who are emotionally attached to their business may have difficulty doing this objectively, so it’s wise to work with a qualified business appraiser to determine a fair value for your business. A Wealth Advisor can connect you with a business appraiser familiar with your type of business. Additionally, it’s a good idea to reassess your business’s value regularly, as market conditions and performance fluctuate.


Once you have an appropriate valuation, it’s time to determine a successor. There are several ways to transfer ownership of your business, but these three are the most common:

  • Gift the business to your heirs. While some heirs will jump at the opportunity to run the family business, others won’t. If you wish to keep your business in the family, start your succession planning with a frank assessment of who has the desire and aptitude to lead the business with your vision in your mind.
  • Sell to family or a business partner. If there’s significant value in your business, gifting the business outright wouldn’t make sense. Selling it to a family member or other partner that is already involved in the daily operation can make for a smooth handover.
  • Sell to a third party. Selling to an outsider can be complex, typically requiring lengthy negotiations and intense scrutiny of operations and business valuations. Some potential buyers may require the founder to stay engaged with the business for a certain period of time.

When determining a successor, consider the tax implications of each scenario for both yourself and your successor. A Wealth Advisor will understand how to best structure your succession plan so it works effectively with your personal retirement and estate plans.


What’s next for you? By constructing a succession plan in tandem with a retirement plan, you can not only make sure your cash flow needs are met, but also think about what will give your life meaning after you’ve handed over your business operations. Will you keep a hand in the business or move on to the next stage of life? A solid succession plan eliminates much of the guesswork of this significant life transition.

In short, successfully transferring your business to a new owner takes a pragmatic and proactive approach. Regardless of what form your succession plan takes, its ultimate success often hinges on timing and working with trusted professionals. The sooner you start planning for the eventual transition, the more flexibility you’ll have to make future adjustments and exit your business on your own terms.


Jennifer Osgood is President of Wagner Wealth Management, which has offices in Greenville, Anderson, and Oconee counties. Call them at 864-236-4706 or visit to learn more about our firm.

Securities offered through Arkadios Capital. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services through Wagner Wealth Management Advisors, LLC. Arkadios Capital and Wagner Wealth Management Advisors, LLC, are not affiliated through any ownership.