Business Succession Planning


I am more ready than ever to put together a plan to exit my business.

We are a small business

Helping Small Business Owners Since 1986

We have over thirty years of experience providing business succession planning for a small number of successful families. Learn about our 5½ step process that incorporates advanced financial planning, risk mitigation, tax & estate planningGo tax free and more.

Colorado Businesses

of all businesses in Colorado employ less than 500 people.
different Colorado businesses
0 billion $
of economic output
0.2 million
Coloradoans are employed by a small business.

Sources verified May, 2024.

Business Owner Exit Planning

Our 5½ step process helps a business owner maximize their financial return, minimize their tax liability, plan for contingencies, and successfully transfer their business.

1. Discovery

We begin with a conversation about your goals, values and relationships. We want to learn more about the most important parts of your business. We want to know about you as a business owner. Clients often say this is the “best conversation about money I’ve ever had.”

We discuss the people, both inside and outside the company who will make a difference. We will discuss some key information about your business. If we agree to move ahead, we will gather the financial information and details.

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself as you begin a succession plan for your business:
1. What are some of my most important professional accomplishments?
2. How did I get into this business?
3. What did I love about this business back then? What about today?
4. What are the key strengths I bring to this business?
5. What would I like my key accomplishments to be before I leave?
6. Where do I see this business in 3 years? 5 years? 10 years?
7. Where do I want to be in 3 years? 5 years? 10 years?

2. Valuation and Plan

We will help you understand the valuation of your business. We will explain the methods of valuation, including discounted cash flow, fair market comparisons, and more. We will learn about your financials, including the tangible assets, goodwill, income statement and cashflow. We will help you form an exit plan. We will discuss your options and narrow our focus to the ones that make the most sense to you. We help you find an outside business valuation expert to give us a realistic set of numbers.

Here are some key questions you can ask yourself as you prepare for a business valuation and business succession plan:
1. What is the five-year trendline for revenue and for income?
2. What is the value of the assets? Inventory?
3. How does goodwill affect my valuation? How much of that depends upon me (my experience, reputation, relationships, etc.)?
4. What are the key drivers of revenue?
5. What are the key risks we face?
6. What opportunities do I see in the near future? And farther out?

3. Grow and Protect

Concurrently with the previous steps, we will focus on 3 to 5 key drivers of business value. We will help you identify ways to increase the value of your business. We will also identify threats and weaknesses to your business and help you to shore them up. Growing businesses are more valuable than declining businesses. We want to pay attention to the key growth factors.
Furthermore, businesses with an exit plan in place are more valuable than those without. The succession planning process is designed to increase business value.

Here are some key questions to ask as you consider how you can grow and protect your business:
1. Who will run this business if I die suddenly?
2. What can we do to make my team more successful?
3. What are the key strengths and weaknesses of my team?
4. What risks does the company face if a key person were to die?
5. What can I do to minimize these risks?
6. What technology will help the business?
7. If money were not a problem, where would the company spend money to receive the biggest return on investment?

4. Prepare for a third-party sale and/or...

When preparing for an exit, it is often best to think about selling the business to someone outside the company. Even if the business is nowhere near ready to sell to a stranger, it is important to prepare for the possibility that it might happen. Even if you do not want to sell to an outsider, the preparations help anyone who buys your company.

We start with the value drivers identified in a previous step. We focus on the people and processes that are critical to the business. Then, we focus on the management team. Often, staff training is a necessary part of a third party sale. Additionally, we discuss technology. We discuss the future of the industry. This conversation sometimes opens doors to buyers who may not otherwise have been visible. We interview and likely engage a business broker, investment banker, or other expert to facilitate a sale.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself as you consider selling to a third party:
1. Who has expressed an interest, even remotely, in owning my business?
2. Who are my key competitors and how likely are they to purchase?
3. Who are the suppliers and customers who may are interested in the success of my business?
4. What industry competes with my industry? Who are the key players?
5. What experience, knowledge, personality traits, and other “soft skills” do I want to see in a buyer of my business?
6. What are the absolutes? Without these, I will not sell.

4½. ...Prepare for a sale to insiders

If your goal is to transition this business to your children, existing management team or other people already working in the business, then we form a different plan. We give you tools to talk to your children, key employees and co-owners. We help you measure their likely success, their strengths, and weaknesses. We help you envision a future for the business without you around. Then, we discuss various capitalization methods. One of the most tax-appealing methods may be an ESOP, employee stock ownership plan. We will discuss this, and other, options. We help you receive your desired value. We also help you transfer your business with less personal risk.

Here are some questions to consider as you look at transitioning your business to a person already familiar to you:
1. Who will run the business?
2. What do they need to be able to do that they are not already doing?
3. How quickly can I train them?
4. How much money do I need and want from this business?
5. Am I willing to accept less money selling to an insider than to a third party? How much?
6. Do I need to worry about employee turnover? What will be the power dynamics once this transition happens?
7. What about people outside the business? Namely my customers and suppliers. Do I foresee any challenges?
8. Will I be able to step away? Really? What can I do now to help myself get out of the way of the new owner?
9. How will selling the business affect my identity and relationships?

5. Business continuity

During a transition, the business is at greater risk than it was before the transition. You will want to make sure you have all the proper risk mitigation. We will evaluate your insurance to handle any unlikely—but disastrous—contingency. We will make an informed decision, weighing the pros and cons.

A complete exit plan takes care of your family and your business in the event of a death or permanent disability of an owner or key employee. The goal here is to make sure that you meet your objectives regardless of what the world may throw your way.

Here are some questions to ask as you consider continuity planning:
1. Can I put together a plan today—even without the details of a buyer/seller transaction—that will make sure my family is safe in the event of my death or disability?
2. Have I put together a contingency plan in the event one of my key team members dies or becomes disabled?
3. Am I sure that I have the right insurance in place for all contingencies, including cyber, liability and other risks? When is the last time I had a third party opinion?
4. What risks—regardless of how unlikely—could set back my business? Think COVID-19 and/or the financial crisis of 2008.

6. Advanced financial planning

Advanced financial planning brings the real-world back into focus. Your business exists to serve you and your goals, your values, and your relationships. Some decisions will require a trade-off between maximizing your personal financial gains and achieving other goals.

From the onset of the business succession plan, we engage with you to help you achieve your own personal best. Advice incorporates advanced financial planning, risk mitigation, estate planning, tax planning, investment management and retirement income planning.

Questions to consider for advanced financial planning include:
1. What does money mean to me?
2. What do I want to achieve with my money?
3. What kind of thoughts, feelings and concerns do I have when I think about money?
4. What does money mean for my family? What do I want it to mean?
5. What was it like when I grew up? What stories did my parents tell me about money? What do I remember?
6. What do I want for my kids, grandkids and other key relationships? How will my money help me help them with that?
7. How do you want to be remembered?

Client Stories

Client stories included on this website reflect hypothetical client situations that represent
those commonly encountered by AIWM representatives, they do not reflect actual client relationships.
Business Owner Asks, How Can I Exit?
Attorney with Health Concerns
Go Tax Free

Sheryl loves the business she built but she is ready for a change. Sheryl carved out a unique niche and owns valuable intellectual property rights. She has several loyal employees she wants to make sure are protected. Her adult children have no desire to run the business. Her elderly mother needs more care. Sheryl would like to be there for her, and also for her grandchildren. We:

Helped Sheryl through the 7-step exit planning process
Introduced her to our expert network team who
Did a valuation of her business
Listed and sold the business
Planned for the taxes and hidden retirement costs
Created an investment management plan

“Thank goodness I found you,” Sheryl says. “Anytime I need something, I know who to call!” Sheryl finds time for personal pursuits and has since rekindled relationships that went on the sidelines while she was a busy professional. She is ecstatic!

Exit Planning Readiness Survey

A year ago, Bob had a stroke. As a partner in a successful law firm and he felt he had no one he could trust. His wife, Susan, had no interest in financial affairs, completely trusting “her Bob.” He was worried about his health and his family’s wealth. His daughter was financially irresponsible, and his son had drug dependency issues. Bob wanted to make sure his family did not fritter away all his money. We:

Created a financial plan
Prioritized the estate plan, protecting Susan just in case something happens to Bob
Created trusts to care for the kids
Empowered Susan by speaking in terms she could understand
Helped Bob with the transition of his business to another partner
Delivered ongoing investment management

“Money is a powerful influence,” says Bob. “My financial advisor keeps me informed and my family safe.” In his new role, Bob has improved health and happiness.

Dave was preparing his business for sale when we first met. He had been solicited directly by a potential buyer and did not know whether the value was fair, or not. It was a large amount of money and he was worried about the tax liability. Additionally, he did not trust the out of state buyers would be able to pay and had questions about their ability to run the business. We: 

Started with an exit plan
Assembled our usual expert team
Discovered that Dave could use a little-known tax advantage called Qualified Small Business Stock
Approached the buyer with the expert team, and renegotiated the deal in Dave’s terms
Implemented a wealth management plan
Ongoing investment management for Dave’s company and his family

“I’m happy as long as I have enough money to buy gas and groceries and go fishing,” says Dave. His success came years after the initial engagement. The original buyer faded away when they realized they could not take advantage of him. The expert team found a new buyer, who gave Dave more than he thought he would ever get. Now Dave has time to go fishing all over the world.

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“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”

Thomas Edison

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