Sell or Stay? Succession Planning for Women Business Owners
February 28, 2024

By: Barbara B. Hudock

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there were two business owners. Both were women. Both had achieved many of their respective business goals. Both loved what they did. And while one lived in New York and the other in Pennsylvania, they both had the same problem:

They weren’t sure whether to keep running their business, or sell it and retire.

This is a very common problem for all business owners, of course, but especially for women. As you know, women must overcome a particular set of obstacles and challenges to build a successful business. As they get older, the question of whether to stay in the game or cash out and leave the table comes with a lot of baggage. The decision can have a profound impact on a woman’s well-being. There are emotional considerations, too — given everything she had to go through to start her business, how can she choose to leave behind? What if the next owner doesn’t give it the care it deserves?

As a financial advisor, I have a lot of experience with this issue.  Those two women in the story? The one from New York is a client of mine.

And the woman from Pennsylvania is me.

Several years ago, I was faced with a dilemma. One of our business partners at the time decided he wanted to sell our business. By that point, I had been working as a financial advisor for 30 years. No one would have blinked an eye if I announced my retirement – I had certainly paid my dues!  I wondered if the time had come for me to move on.

So, I spoke with several banks, received various offers, and set the wheels in motion to sell. But throughout the process, I felt uneasy. While selling the business made a certain amount of financial sense, it never really felt right to me. You see, the thing I am most proud of when it comes to our company is the culture we have created. Our goal is that everyone who steps through our door feels magically transported to a kinder, gentler place.  A place where they know their dreams are possible. I knew that if I sold, the odds were that the new owner would change that culture. They would replace it with something else!

The idea of what we created being gone forever, no longer around to help those in our community…it really bothered me.

I knew I simply could not sell my business. But knowledge alone did not solve my dilemma. I still had a partner who wanted to sell. What to do?

Meanwhile, my client in New York came to a different conclusion. After discussing the matter together, she realized she was tired. As a partner in a very successful marketing firm, she was proud of what she created, but it was no longer enough. She wanted access to the money she had worked so hard to earn so she could do things outside of business. So, she decided to sell. Now, she lives in a nice apartment and has time to paint and master photography. She frequently travels to Italy just to take art classes!

It’s her dream lifestyle — one I am so happy to have helped her achieve.

So, two women. One decided to sell, the other to stay. Each decision was right for them. But what about you? How do you decide whether to sell or stay as you get older? How do you decide which choice is right for you both financially and emotionally? Furthermore, how do you actually implement your choice?  How do you ensure you’ll have the means to live the lifestyle you want? That you won’t outlive your money? That you will be able to leave something behind for your family?

Those are tough questions. Fortunately, the solution is simple:

Get a financial plan.

When my client told me about her dilemma, the first thing we did was create a financial plan.  By doing that, we were able to determine exactly what she needed to live that Bohemian lifestyle she wanted…and what needed to be done to get her there!

While it may sound strange, I created a financial plan for myself, too.  By doing so, I was able to determine exactly how much my business was worth – and how much I would need to pay my partner to buy him out.  But the plan did more than that.  Through it, I was able to restructure my business so that, as I got older, I would have a strong management team alongside me to shoulder more of the responsibilities.  The plan gave me the time to be flexible with my work schedule.  Now, because of our amazing management team, I have more time to travel, ski, and exercise, while still getting to do what I love most: Helping my clients.  

Financial planning is something everyone can benefit from, but it’s particularly important for women business owners. Compared to men, female entrepreneurs are often confronted with limited funding and a larger set of responsibilities, balancing the needs of their business with their family. There are also fewer support systems and resources in place to help women business owners navigate the financial challenges that come with succession planning.

This is where having a financial plan can really help. That’s because a plan can help you determine:

  1. How much your business is worth if you decide to sell.
  2. How much you will need to have saved before seriously considering retirement.
  3. How selling – or staying – will affect your taxes as you get older.
  4. How to replace your healthcare in retirement. 
  5. How to ensure an orderly transition to your successor. 
  6. How to buy a partner or co-owner out if you decide to stay.

A good financial plan factors in both your current situation and your future one by stress testing your finances across a variety of scenarios. It helps you know exactly how much you’ll need to do what you want. It provides the exact steps — and when to take them — to maximize the value of your business, savings, investments, and even your Social Security benefits.

As a business owner, you know how important the details are. Details can make or break a month, a quarter, even a career.  They can certainly make or break a retirement.  So, as you get closer to your own “sell or stay” dilemma, remember: Youare the hero of your own story.  Whatever ending you want the hero to get is within your grasp. 

All it takes is a financial plan.  If the time is fast approaching where you need to determine the next phase of your business – either with you still in the driver’s seat, with you taking art classes on the Amalfi coast, or anything in between – I want to help.  At Hudock Capital, our mission is to help you live the life you’ve always imagined.  Whether you want to begin the process of constructing a personalized financial plan or if you simply want to learn more about what we do, click here to start planning your dreams today!

Back To Top