Choosing a Transition Team

As you transition out of your business or downsize your role in it, you’ll need to rely on specialists in your professional network, including your CPA, insurance professional, lawyer, and investment advisor.
In addition to these current colleagues, you’ll probably need to seek out the expertise of other professionals. And don’t forget to include the new owner(s) of the business on the transition team. The following individuals are frequently key players.

Certified Public Accountant

  • Helps you decide if you’re in a favorable position to sell
  • Compiles documents for presentation to potential buyers
  • Makes a valuation of your company that will be used to set the asking price
  • Helps structure a deal to avoid negative tax consequences and create estate-planning instruments

Insurance Professional

  • Verifies that all coverages a buyer would want to see are in place
  • If insurance policies are part of the transaction, your insurance professional can ensure that these are in order


  • Drafts any contracts, leases, or employee retention or non-compete agreements that will be in effect after the transition
  • Drafts the transition agreement
  • Helps qualify potential buyers

Business Appraiser

  • Helps secure the best and most realistic price for the business
  • Itemizes the value of various components of the business

Investment Advisor

  • Helps you plan how to invest the proceeds from the transaction

Strategic Partners, Angel Investors, and/or Venture Capitalists

  • If any of these players are still involved in the business, they must sign off on the impending transition
  • Can offer insight on how they structured their wealth – and may have ideas on current opportunities or businesses in which to invest

Independent Advisors

  • Help assess the prospects and timing of a transition

Business Broker or Investment Banker

  • Invites businesses to submit bids to buy your company

The Business’ Buyer or Successor

  • Their role is to learn the ropes – and show that they can handle the job
  • During the transition, particularly if you plan to pass your business to one or more family members, you should assess whether they have what it takes to run the business successfully

Game Plan

  • Many responsibilities can be performed by more than one type of professional. Valuations, for example, can be made by accountants, business appraisers, or investment bankers. Make sure that your appraiser specializes in appraising your type of business.
  • If you can afford it, try to get valuations from more than one source: You’ll benefit from different perspectives, and proper valuation is key to getting the best deal.
  • If you do use different advisors whose expertise might overlap, be sure that everyone understands their roles. Make it clear who will be the key negotiator, for example, so that you don’t have a lawyer and an investment banker both trying to negotiate terms independently.
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