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Who’s Next? Succession Planning for Your Small Business

By: Cindy Matalamaki, Senior Marketing Manager, Ceridian

My dad hadn’t planned on owning a drug store when he went to college to become a pharmacist. But, just a few years after earning his degree, there he was with his new wife, toddler daughter (me!) and the responsibility of running his father-in-law’s pharmacy/gift store/lunch counter.

No one imagined my grandfather would suddenly pass away at the young age of 52. There was no plan in place. With my mom and her three siblings, including a brother studying to be a pharmacist, it appeared that there may be an heir apparent. However, as the family grappled with what to do, they came to the realization that having business acumen and interest was perhaps more important than being a pharmacist or a blood relative.

Fortunately, my dad was able to step up to the plate. He and my mom purchased the business from my grandmother and successfully managed it for nearly 40 years. Through some trial (and error), he learned what it took to drive the business forward.

Critical to my parent’s early survival as small business owners was developing partnerships with people who filled in some of the skill gaps – an accountant and an attorney. These loyal employees that had worked for my grandfather continued to work for my dad and offered some guidance.

While it all worked out in the end, my dad would’ve been thrilled if there had been some sort of business plan in place – some bridge to what my grandfather knew and envisioned for his business.

He would’ve jumped at the opportunity that Ceridian extended to small business owners on March 21. Recognizing that more than half of small business owners don’t have a succession plan in place, with help from we brought together five experts for a panel discussion helping business owners consider:

  • Should I keep or sell my business?
  • How do I quantify the value of my business and what can I do to increase the value?
  • How do I prepare my employees for the change in ownership?
  • What do I need to consider from a taxation perspective?
  • Am I prepared for life after the sale?


This panel of experts from the banking, investment, legal and technology sectors provide invaluable insight. Not only are they gurus in their fields, but they also understand the unique needs and concerns of small businesses.

There’s also a ton of value in talking to other small business owners – even if their business or plans seem completely different from yours, it’s an empathetic community that shares some common challenges. While some owners may have a well documented succession plan, I know that there are many others, like my late grandfather, that haven’t planned for the next phase in their business. For some it may come down to limited resources or finding time in the daily struggle simply to maintain profitability. Perhaps the partners in the business, whether family or friends, just don’t share the same vision or have trouble communicating with each other. Whatever the barrier may be, it’s important to at least take the first step in developing your succession plan.

Instead of waiting to discover that your daughter has no interest in taking over the family business or finding out that there’s a competitor opening shop just down the street, start outlining your goals now and put a plan in place. A well-defined business succession plan minimizes the risk of alienating potential successors and buyers.

It also puts you in the driver’s seat so that you can enjoy your retirement – or the next stage of your business.

View the recording of “Buying or Selling a Small Business? What you need to know” on or view our highlights on Twitter.

This blog is based on an original post on

Cindy Matalamaki headshotCindy Matalamaki holds a Masters of Business Communication from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN. When she’s not sharing customer stories or writing about the latest HCM trends, Cindy enjoys running, reading, eating dark chocolate, walking her goofy dog with her husband, and unintentionally embarrassing her three teenage children.

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