Exit Planning for Retirement Or…

How do I get out of this business?

The buzz phrase is “Exit Strategy” – and you have one—whether or not you have a plan in place.

Your financial planner says you should have an exit strategy; your lawyer says you should have an exit strategy; your spouse says you should have an exit strategy. They may not say it in just that way. The financial planner says you need to diversify your assets; your lawyer says you need to spread your risks; your spouse asks, “When are we going to spend more time together?”; and you ask yourself, “What am I going to do with the rest of my life and when am I going to start?”

These are major life questions which if left unaddressed, will probably keep you from maximizing the potential value of your business or serving yourself and your heirs as well as you thought you would. By planning today, you can avoid these regrets in the future.

In planning your exit strategy, you will have to look at many areas of the business and your personal life.

Personal and Business Consideration

Sunbelt is situated to be your advocate in a successful exit from your business. Most owners will decide at some point that they want to exit and will ask, “How do I sell my business”. This is the starting point. With Sunbelt, you will have the first member of your Success Team. We are prepared to guide you directly and/or refer you to other team members who will help address the issues above. We have attorneys, tax specialists, insurance advisors, wealth managers, banks and even counselors we work with who can be part of your team.


You need a transaction attorney involved in the sale of your business. Most attorneys specialize in areas of the law and you deserve an attorney who has done deals in the past and who can protect you while not scaring a buyer off.

Tax Specialists

Everyone is going to have to pay taxes from the proceeds of sale. Your specialist, whether a tax attorney or CPA will help you understand your situation and find the best ways to minimize the tax effect.

Insurance Advisor

Insurance is often part of your exit and tax planning. If needed, Sunbelt can direct you to qualified advisors.

Wealth Managers

For medium and larger transactions, a wealth manager can plan a key role to planning how to handle the proceeds from a sale. There can be large sums of money changing hands and good planning and execution can defer taxes and minimize the tax effect. With proper planning, these proceeds can be used to finance retirement, acquire new businesses, and transfer to your heirs with minimum tax liability.


Sunbelt works with several preferred SBA lenders and other financial institutions that can assist in the preparation of your business for sale. For Mergers and Acquisitions, having committed financing for the purchase of your business can be exactly what attracts the right buyer at the right price.

Management Consultants

Sometimes a business owner may want to sell but know that the business is not where it should be. In that case, we can refer you to an advisor whose specialty will meet your needs. Whether you need more current internal systems to manage your businesses profitability; or whether you need to develop a strategy to be positioned for the highest market value in the future, Sunbelt can assist.


Sometimes, in the disposition of a business and the start of retirement, business owners will have a deep concern for not just the use of the funds but for their family and heirs as they relate to the proceeds. And, likewise, family can have deep concern for the health of the seller and use of those funds. These two entities can be in conflict and it may be difficult to resolve issues without outside neutral help. This is where a counselor can greatly assist in the flow of an exit plan.

What are your next steps?

Plan Your Exit Strategy


Where am I today?
Step 1. Decide whether or not you are going to plan your exit strategy. If your answer is to plan, go to step 2. If you choose not to plan, you have by default selected the ‘work until I drop dead’ strategy. Do not read any further – go back to work.
Step 2. Decide the most likely buyer of your business if you were to sell right now. Is it a family member? An employee? An investor? A competitor? A synergistic buyer? Your partner?
Should you do an ESOP? Should you go public? Should you sell the business to a relative or management through a recapitalization plan?
Step 3. Develop the estimated market value of your business to that likely buyer.
Step 4. Estimate your CIP (Cash In Pocket) after taxes from selling or transferring your business to that likely buyer.
Without planning, combined taxes on selling and on the estate can be over 60%, sometimes as high as 70%. With proper planning, taxes can be deferred, reduced substantially, and in some cases, eliminated.
For tax reasons alone, every owner of a privately held business should have an exit strategy plan.
Where do I want to go?
Step 5. Evaluate the CIP with reference to the cash you want and need to live the rest of your life. If the CIP is enough to meet your objectives, go to Step 6. If it isn’t, go to Step 8.
Step 6. Do you want to do other things for the rest of your life? If yes, sell the business, enjoy life. (We’ll venture you have never met anyone who on the deathbed said, “I wish I’d spent more time at the plant.”) If no, got to Step 7.
Most privately held businesses sell because the seller has non-monetary issues to resolve. The owner has some family or personal goal that is more important than the long-term cash flow benefits of the business.
Step 7. The risk you have in continuing to operate the business is that something will happen to decrease the value of the business.
You need to assure that your insurance is adequate, and that your heirs have enough money to pay the estate taxes without having to liquidate the company. The value of companies in liquidation because of the death of the owner is discounted heavily.
Even if you are years away from stepping down, there are recapitalization strategies that allow you to unlock a portion of your wealth without giving up control.
Business plans, strategic plans and proper insurance are normal in well-run businesses. Just make sure, having made your exit strategy decision to continue to run the business that your insurance and planning reflect today’s reality.

How do I get there?
Step 8. If your CIP is not enough to support you in the lifestyle you would like, then you need to develop a program to make the company worth more. That calls for a strategic plan.
A strategic plan looks at:

  • Where are we?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • How do we get there?

In our experience, the best way to develop a strategic plan is to go in retreat with your key staff people for two to five days. In the retreat, you develop your goals and a program with responsibilities and a schedule of what to start doing tomorrow to achieve them.
You will need a facilitator to put you through the process and to assure that you come out of the retreat with realistic goals, consensus and commitment by the participants to achieve the goals.
Once you achieve your goals and the results meet your CIP objective, sell the business and enjoy life.
If your strategic plan shows that you have no hope of achieving the CIP you want or need, go to Step 9.

Step 9. You have three choices:
1. You can wait it out. The longer you wait the less money you need to live the rest of your life.
2. You can transfer the business, and accept less of the lifestyle features you wanted.
3. You can change the nature of the business or start a new business to achieve the CIP you want and need. When ready, go back to Step 6.
Every privately held business will be transferred. The ownership will change by selling, liquidation, bankruptcy, going public, transferring to a relative, donating to charity or merging with another company.
Each of these transfers has different tax, family and lifestyle consequences for the owner. Exit planning is essential to assure that you end with the maximum CIP.
4. You can assemble a team of professionals, like Sunbelt, to assist you in revising or creating a plan that will succeed.


Wealth Management Consulting
With proceeds exceeding $2mm, we can refer you to one of the most experienced wealth management firms in the Bay Area. They are experts in asset protection through long term tax and estate planning. Prior to the sale of your business, even up to one year, they can help organize your personal and family estate and sale proceeds with the result that taxes can be minimized now and in the future for your heirs.

Deferred Sales Trust Consulting
Using the Deferred Sales Trust mechanism, another consulting firm can set up the plan that can allow you to defer up to 100% of proceeds of sale, invest in multiple vehicles to spread your risk and maximize the growth of your funds. Returns of 7%-9% can often be guaranteed on 100% of your pre-tax proceeds rather than variable market rates on after tax proceeds.

Pro-active Exit Planning
If you are starting this process early, congratulations, you are one of only a few with the perceptiveness to do so. By analyzing your current situation, and keeping your targeted financial goal in mind, our team will use proprietary and tailored techniques to provide a strategy for your business to develop the products and/or services that buyers will want in 3 to 5 years. They will help establish parameters necessary to accomplish your goals and needs and then monitor progress and assist in its implementation and ultimate success.

For a confidential consultation please contact one of our professionals.