Selling a family business

It’s been the subject of many a debate in your family for a few years – some more heated than others. Now, you’ve finally decided that you want to sell the business and move on with the next stage of your life. Whether it’s retirement or a new venture that’s pulling you away from the bonds of your family business, you have the right to live your life however you choose.

Easier said than done, though. Very often, the months spent in preparing a family business for sale can be the most strenuous of an owner’s life. The repercussions affect the whole team, as with any other business sale: this time, though, the team members are family members, too.

This time, it’s personal.


This is likely to be an emotional time.  Aside from all of the feuding going on both inside and outside of working hours, you may find that letting go of the company is surprisingly hard emotionally. It’s not any old company, after all. You may have inherited it from somebody else or created it from scratch, gradually recruiting family members into the team over the years.

It goes beyond employment: the brand itself is bound up with your family values and possibly even your name.

Are you planning on handing the business on to another family member? It makes sense on some levels, of course, especially if they truly have the right skillset and character for the role. A clean handover to somebody in the family who already knows the business intimately can save a lot of time in searching for an external buyer, too.

Speak to a qualified tax adviser about the option of payment by instalments. It can help to avoid the kind of income tax issues you might find, such as gift taxes and capital gains taxes. Paying in instalments takes time, though: if you need your money out of the company soon in order to move on with the next chapter in your life, this could pose a few stumbling blocks.

As with most family issues, the key to success here is open communication. Here are three helpful tips to do that:


Start with outlining your goals and objectives – for yourself and for your family members. Get them all onboard so that you can avoid any unpleasant surprises as you prepare for handover.

Be very clear personally why you’re doing this. Remind yourself of what it is you’re moving to – what that next chapter in your life is all about. There will be times when the arguments will make you waiver … that’s when you need to have a clear vision in mind to call upon.

Outsource the data research in the pre-sale stage. This time is rich in opportunities for family members to fall out. It can help to strengthen your resolve, too, when outside experts take on the role of keeping the change moving forwards without being affected by emotional exchanges. They can help to keep the peace.

Find out how you can start to prepare your business for sale without having to make any premature decisions by talking to one of our team at EvolutionCBS.

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