So you decided to start a business… now what? Before you get caught up in the daily routine of growing your company, take a step back and think what you will do with your business AFTER you spent all those thousands of hours building it. Or, if a tragedy strikes, ask yourself, what will happen to your business then?

Don’t have a clue?

Don’t worry, you are not alone. Most virtual business or small business owners do not plan that far out, they are just trying to make it through the day. So I thought I’d give you a few ideas on the best way to transfer or sell a virtual business when the times comes, this way you will have a clearer idea of where you are heading even before you start.

Remember though, the key to building a business ready to be sold at any time, is to remove yourself from the daily operations. This is the reason why, it is imperative to build a process driven, instead of an owner driven company. If you eventually do not make this transition, your business will be worth less and you will most likely receive less for your company!
Here is an overview of the best 7 virtual business (or small business) exit strategies:

  1. Employees: A few methods to selling a virtual business to your employees are the ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan), an MBO (Management Buyouts) and MBI (Management Buyins)
  2. Charitable Trusts: This is a great strategy for those virtual business owners who want to benefit from charitable giving. A few methods are CRTs (Charitable Reminder Trust) and CLT (Charitable Load Trust)
  3. Family: This is when you want to transfer your virtual business to your children or a family member. A few methods are gifting stock, GRATs (grantor retained annuity trust), FLPs (Family Limited Partnerships), SCINs (self-canceling installment notes), IDGTs (intentionally defective grantor trusts) and private annuities.
  4. Co-owners: When buying out a partner the co-owner transfer channel is a good method. It includes buy/sell agreements, rights of first refusal provisions and other transfer techniques.
  5. Retire and Sell to an Outsider: When retiring, numerous of the previous mentioned methods can be used. Such as charitable trusts, private annuities or grantor retained annuity trusts.
  6. Continue in the Business but Sell to an Outsider: This strategy is usually implemented when an owner needs growth funds but does not want to invest personal assets. It can be sold to a private entity or to a public one.
  7. Going Public: This is the process of offering securities (common or preferred stock) of a private company for sale to the general public.