Business Succession Planning

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Business succession — the successful transition of a business to new ownership and leadership — is one of the most critical issues facing today’s business owner. Consider the following:


  • Approximately 80 percent of businesses are family-owned/privately held.
  • Approximately 95 percent of all businesses have less than 50 employees.  A very large percentage of these have less than 5 employees.
  • It is estimated that 80 percent of businesses are owned by Baby Boomers.
  • The last wave of “Baby Boomers” are over 50 years old and approaching retirement age.
  • Less than 25 percent of business owners have done any significant succession planning.
  • 70 percent of businesses fail to be successfully transitioned to the next generation of owners (either within the family or outside the family)
  • 100 percent of business owners eventually leave their business.


As you can see, the number of businesses that will go through transition in the coming years is staggering. For most of these business owners, their business represents their most significant financial asset – by far.  They have poured their hearts and souls into building businesses that are successful ventures allowing owners and their families to lead comfortable and prosperous lives.


The ability of the owner and his or her family to continue this lifestyle after retirement or after moving on to the next phase of life (for those who don’t plan to “retire”) depends largely on the success and succession of this single asset — his or her business. The transition of the business will likely be the largest single financial transaction of an owner's life and it is a once-in-a-lifetime event where she or he has no previous experience. Despite all of this, owners consistently fail to properly plan for the future success and succession of their businesses.


Cottrill Arbutina provides business succession services to help guide the business owner through the many complexities and difficulties of the succession planning process and avoid the pitfalls that prevent the majority of businesses from transitioning successfully. We help our clients develop a roadmap and a game plan to successfully navigate this process. We work with you and your team to develop a timeline for various tasks along the way and ensure that the process stays on track. Business succession services address matters such as:


  • Family dynamics (children in the business, fairness among family members, family harmony in a business environment, etc.)
  • Transitioning ownership vs. transitioning leadership
  • Key employees and how they fit into a succession plan
  • Business Valuation
  • Improving the value of a business
  • Preparing a business for sale and negotiating a favorable deal
  • Cashflow concerns and how these impact the succession of the business
  • Planning for the unexpected (divorce, death, disability, disaster, etc.)
  • Tax issues impacting the transition of a business for both the owner and the successor
  • Addressing the retirement needs of the business owner
  • Options for optimizing the structure of a transition (gifting, sale, financing, use of trusts, ESOPs, etc.)


To subscribe to our newsletter, Succession Planning Forum, please e-mail Jack Ellsworth ( and request to be added to our list of subscribers.  If you would like further information or would like to schedule a complimentary consultation, please contact Mr. Ellsworth at the e-mail above or at 724.683.3434.

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