After all the hard work, money and time you’ve invested into your business, you’ve reached that crossroads: your business cannot run without you but it may be time to call it a day.
It’s a familiar dilemma faced by thousands of business owners around the UK, most of whom, stats suggest, are unprepared for when the time comes to take a step back.
Almost two-thirds (64%) of business leaders have no succession plan in place to ensure their business operates smoothly following the loss of key executives.
The key to being in the minority of business owners who are on the ball is preparation – the earlier you start thinking about your exit strategy, the easier it will be.
Timing your departure to perfection is a fine art, but how can you tell when the moment has come for you and your business?
Is your successor ready?
Whether you plan to pass on your business to a family member or a talented employee, you will need to choose your successor carefully.
You may want to mentor your successor to ensure they get the training and knowledge they need before you hand over the reins.
Some 38% of medium-sized firms were in at least their second generation of family ownership, and 3% in at least their fifth.
This option is likely to provide continuity for you and your customers, while ensuring your business continues to sail on the steady path you’ve set it on.
Does your business’s cashflow look healthy?
If your business’s finances are in good shape, it will be more attractive to investors or potential buyers. That’s the theory, at least, but it’s not always easy to achieve in practice.
Research from Xero shows that 49% of small businesses are cashflow-positive in any given month. But this fluctuates throughout the year, with a noticeable slump around January and February, following the Christmas rush.
If you own one of these cashflow-positive businesses, it should be far more straightforward to potentially find a buyer, compared to those experiencing peaks and troughs.
Are you ready to retire?
So your successor is in place and your busines finances are in good shape. The next question is do you have enough cash to both maintain your existing quality of life and retire?
You can withdraw 25% of your pension pot tax-free from the age of 55, with the remainder of your retirement savings taxed at your marginal rate of income tax.
If you’ve paid off the mortgage, are debt-free, and your succession plan is in place, it may make sense to take advice from your independent financial adviser.
But if you have 10 years to go until retirement, now is the time to start making a decision about whether you will sell or pass the business on to a family member.
If you are going to sell, you can spend that time ensuring the business is as profitable and valuable as possible. Alternatively, if you have identified a successor, you can plan their training so that they are ready to take over.
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