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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 have no exit strategy_infographic

  • 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

A majority will leave within a decade

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


29 percent_pie chart
29 percent

expect to leave the business within five years

54 percent_pie chart
54 percent

anticipate being gone within 10 years

Selling or transferring the business is the most likely exit strategy

37 percent_pie chart
37 percent

want to transfer the business to a family member

25 percent_pie chart
25 percent

want to sell to a partner or key employee

25 percent_pie chart
25 percent

want to sell to a third party

10 percent_pie chart
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

Planning matters

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

Learn more about exit planning