How to Exit Your Small Business

The decision to exit your small business is a tough one. Whether you choose to sell, transfer to family or friends, or wind the business down, it’s not usually as simple as closing the doors. There are legal, tax, financial and even emotional considerations you should be aware and plan for well before you walk away.
We’ve written extensively about the importance of a business plan. This valuable tool will guide you through your start-up phase and evolve with you as your business grows. It can also serve as your guide on how to exit your small business.

When it comes to succession planning, you will need to rely on several stakeholders; both inside and outside the business. Each of these individuals will play a critical role in helping to make the transition a smooth one. Refer to The 9 Key Players of Succession Planning article for further details.

No matter what type of exit strategy you are planning, your company must have a detailed operations plan that contains contingencies for legal and contractual obligations, as well as employee terminations. Unsure of where to start? Speak to our Operations and Systems Expert.

If your small business has employees, their rights need to be taken into account if you decide to sell or dissolve your business. If the business is staying open, employees are usually entitled to maintain their seniority, benefits and contract. If an employee loses their job as a result of the handover, they must be given the appropriate amount of notice. If you need any clarification on your legal obligations to employees, talk to our HR expert.

If you’re putting your small business up for sale, it’s vital to understand how much it’s worth on the market. Market research can help you achieve this aim, providing the figures you need to make an informed decision. Start with our Market Research Resources Guide, which recommends the key databases, organizations and associations that can help you research your market. For businesses based in Vancouver, Bizmap offers clear and relatable market data at the neighbourhood level. Small Business BC also offers a variety of market research services through our data expert, Mark Eversfield.

How do you plan on marketing your business to potential buyers? Depending on your timeline, you might not be able to get full value for your assets and inventory. Preparing a marketing plan for your business in advance gives you a head start when it comes time to sell. For starters, avoid the tendency to disengage from the business you’re hoping to sell. At this point, it’s probably more important than ever for the business to be doing well. If potential buyers can see you’re putting time and effort into running a tight ship, they’ll be more inclined to do business with you.

No matter how you plan to exit your small business, it triggers several financial events you’ll need to account for. Talk to Small Business BC’s Business Broker and let them guide you through the financial considerations involved in the brokerage process.


Rakesh is a writer. His books and stories have been bestsellers in USA as well as internationally, with his work being translated into other languages and selling millions of copies outside her native country. He express his views on various topics through this website.

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