Business Exit Planning

Secure your future by starting your business exit planning early.


Why you need an exit plan

When you hear "exit plan" or "succession plan," you might think of the end of your entrepreneurial journey. But having a solid plan makes sense no matter what stage you’re in. Without one, your businesses could be at risk if the unexpected happens. According to the Exit Planning Institute, 50% of business exits result from one of the five “Ds”—death, divorce, disability, disagreement, and distress.

When you're busy managing your company, it can be hard to find the time to work with a business exit plan advisor. But it's worth it. Having a roadmap can help ensure that your loved ones and business partners are taken care of. So, don't view exit planning for business owners as a "nice to have" but rather a necessary step in securing your future.

What is an exit plan?

Every business is unique, which is why business exit planning should be tailored to your circumstances. But no matter your situation, a solid exit plan should help you:

  • maximize the value of your business
  • control timing and address unsolicitied offers
  • clarify your transition choices
  • minimize taxes
  • prepare you better financially

Meet Jaime Schmidt

When Jaime Schmidt started making personal care products from her Portland kitchen, she didn't imagine that seven years later she'd be selling her business to a Fortune 500 company for millions. Yet that is exactly what happened. Bernstein’s Brian Haloossim talked to Jaime about exit planning for business owners, and what she learned along the way.

The first thing I did [after exiting] was take a deep breath and think what the heck just happened over the last seven years...And then I realized there was more I wanted to do.

- Jaime Schmidt

The heart of the matter

When it comes to business exit planning, many founders consider the idea but ultimately walk away. That’s because they’re not convinced that they’ve secured their needs. But how do you do that?

It starts with changing the discussion. Instead of focusing on price tags and company metrics, ask yourself: "What matters to me?"

For example, you might have to decide if spending more time with family is more important than maximizing profits. 

By articulating your desires and ranking their relative importance, you can make a more informed decision about whether exiting is the right move. A business exit plan advisor like Bernstein can help you think about what matters most and use that to model your options.

Meet Kate Solomon

Kate Solomon, CEO of Babo Botanicals, shares how she turned her passion for beekeeping into a successful natural care brand and learned a few lessons along the way. Hear how this founder went from side hustle to fundraising from private equity—and ultimately, selling to a strategic buyer. Listen to the episode for her valuable insights on exit planning for business owners.


How do you know it's a good deal?

When thinking about business exit planning, you might have a "magic" number in your head—a price tag that you feel you need to secure before handing over the reins. But have you actually done the math?

The truth is, many entrepreneurs overestimate the amount they truly require because they lack a set formula for their sale price. But if you want to ensure that your post-sale financial goals are achievable, you need more than a gut feeling or round number. Bernstein Private Wealth Management is often asked to serve as a business exit plan advisor because our sophisticated modeling gives founders concrete data for better decision-making.

By doing the math, you'll be better prepared to make thoughtful decisions about exiting your business. So, take the time to seek out a custom analysis. It will pay off in the long run.

Should you wait?

You've probably heard the saying "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." But when it comes to selling your business, it can be hard to know whether to take an offer that's on the table or hold out for something better.​

One way to make this decision is to use sophisticated modeling to determine what a future sale would need to look like in order to compete with the current offer. ​

Ultimately, the decision to sell your business is a personal one. With Bernstein’s custom analysis to guide exit planning for business owners, founders can feel more confident that they're making the right choice.

How can you maximize your proceeds?

If you're thinking about selling, there are multiple tax-saving alternatives available. However, most of them require considerable lead time. That's why it's important to involve professional advisors early on. ​

By working with a business exit plan advisor, you can build a custom plan that maximizes your proceeds. This might involve transferring ownership to a trust, donating shares to charity, or taking advantage of other tax incentives.

The best advice for business exit planning is to reach out to professional advisors like Bernstein. It could make a big difference in the amount you ultimately receive.

Meet Bonnie Chan Woo

Named one of the top 15 most powerful women in Hong Kong, Bonnie Chan Woo took her company public—then pivoted to raising the profile of other female founders. We talked to this trailblazer about business exit planning and building a storytelling platform for female entrepreneurs.

Going public?

If you're thinking about taking your company public, you're probably aware that it can lead to some serious wealth. But there's also uncertainty that comes with it. Holding onto your shares after an IPO can result in a wide range of returns, so it's crucial to make smart decisions before and after the IPO.

As a business exit plan advisor, Bernstein has helped guide many founders along the path from private company to public. We’ve learned that thoughtful exit planning for business owners can tilt the odds in your favor to help address questions that come up along the IPO timeline.


Giving back after your business exit

If you're thinking about business exit planning and you're passionate about giving back, now is the perfect time to plan your charitable giving. Bernstein can help you figure out how much you can give, and which strategies will help you achieve your goals while also maximizing your tax savings.

Entrepreneurs often wonder whether to donate to a public charity, private foundation, or a donor-advised fund (DAF). Each has its own advantages, so it's important to weigh them carefully. Bernstein can help you choose the right giving strategy while making the most of your exit.

Meet Sharon Schneider

Sharon Schneider is a philanthropy expert, impact investor and social change strategist who advises some of the world's most prominent families. But before that, she took a five-year journey through the tech start-up world where she founded, built—and eventually sold—a social enterprise. If aligning your wealth and your values is part of your business exit planning, Sharon speaks firsthand from experience.

More bang for the biz

Many business owners dream of their businesses lasting for generations, but in reality, most successful businesses are sold during the owner's lifetime. Hear directly from Bernstein specialists in this pre-recorded webinar covering pre- and post-transaction planning strategies that business owners should consider to maximize the value of their business when planning to sell, including ways to save on taxes.

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Bernstein does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. In considering this material, you should discuss your individual circumstances with professionals in those areas before making any decisions.