CPA Explains Succession and Exit Planning for Small Business Owners

Date: November 17, 2021

“If you don’t start today, start tomorrow,” urges a tax expert as he discusses succession planning in-depth for small business owners.

By taking into consideration succession planning, retirement planning, and estate planning, small business owners can develop a strategy to exit their business smoothly.  

To explain succession planning in detail, NFIB experts Beth Milito and Holly Wade were joined by special guest Marty Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF. Abo is a co-managing member of Abo Cipolla Financial Forensics, LLC, which provides expert testimony, business valuations, and other financial services. 

“I’m very involved in estate planning, but I think that’s a misnomer,” Abo said early in his presentation. “It’s not estate planning just for death. It’s not succession planning, it’s not just exit planning. Succession is also financial planning, tax planning, and business planning.” 

One of Abo’s key points is the importance of assembling expert help when planning for succession. “I think it’s kind of a logical premise that most business owners would prefer identifying the next owner of their business,” he said. “That’s where you get the financial planners tie in. I can’t stress enough the importance of a team, even in a micro business you should still surround yourself with an attorney, an investment advisor, an accountant, CPA if you can find one. Sometimes you get an intermediary like an investment banker.” 

What happens to businesses that don’t plan for succession? Abo says there are two main fates. Firstly, “they liquidate. Nobody wants it, it’s better dead than alive. The guy who buys it looks at it and says, ‘wait a minute. It’s not worth that much, it’s only worth the underlying assets, liquidate it.’ That’s one way of exiting. Not the best way, but that’s what happens when you don’t do planning my friends.” 

The other scenario is dying as owner. “Dying is an exit strategy, not a strategy you planned for, but it’s what happened. That’s running the business in the saddle until the death.” Needless to say, this can create many awkward situations for family, employees, and clients of the now-deceased owner. 

Above all, Abo urges speed. “You want to extract value out of your business? Couple of things. Number one: you get your systems in place as if you’re going to pass away or die or sell tomorrow. I hope you’ll live forever but you never know. Number two is that you get your documentation in place. Number three: you think about the what-ifs.” 

“When do you need to do this? Today. If not today, then you start tomorrow, because you don’t know what the world is gonna throw at you,” Abo adds. 

Abo then mentions numerous resources on his website, such as a 122-point checklist of things to consider during succession planning and finished the webinar by taking questions from the audience. 


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