Securian Research

Small Business Owner Life Stage Study

Small business owners plan to exit, but aren’t exit planning

Small business owners put their blood, sweat, tears and resources into building their businesses.

But when it comes to figuring how to make a graceful exit from the business, most are unprepared, according to a Securian-sponsored nationwide study of small business owners.

The Securian Small Business Owner Life Stage Study focused on successful private businesses in a variety of industries. The businesses surveyed in August and September 2015 have an average of 27 employees and annual revenue ranging from $250,000 to more than $20 million. Results of the study were released in April 2016.

The vast majority of small business owners don’t have a plan for exiting the business



  • 72 percent don’t have a plan and aren’t taking action
  • Only 14 percent have a formal exit strategy in place
  • Another 14 percent are working on a plan, but haven’t completed it


Planning matters

Don’t wait until the last minute to develop a transition strategy for your business.

Learn more about exit planning

A majority will leave within a decade

The exit is not that far down the road for most small business owners.

pie chart 29 percent

29 percent

expect to leave the business within five years

pie chart 54 percent

54 percent

anticipate being gone within 10 years

Selling or transferring the business is the most likely exit strategy

pie chart 37 percent

37 percent

want to transfer the business to a family member

pie chart 25 percent

25 percent

want to sell to a partner or key employee

pie chart 25 percent

25 percent

want to sell to a third party

pie chart 10 percent

10 percent

expect to close or wind the business down

The importance of planning

Don’t leave the future of your business to chance. Prepare yourself and your business for a graceful transition.     

Learn more about exit strategies
DOFU 6-2016