Loading Contents...

Want to receive new business listing alerts by email?

Selling your business to employees can allow for continuity, inspire workers, and reward loyalty. However, employee buyouts have challenges, especially around financing.

For many business owners, selling their company to key employees might be an appealing exit option. Transferring ownership to those who have contributed to the company's development helps ensure continuity, inspire workers, and honor loyalty. Employee buyouts do, however, present some difficulties, particularly when money is required. Here are some important factors to think about when assessing the benefits and drawbacks of selling your company to employees.

Potential Advantages

- An engaged workforce. Owner-employees have a stake in the company's ongoing success. Employees are more likely to work harder and provide more creative ideas when they have a personal stake in the outcome.

- The continuation of business. The company's operations, strengths, shortcomings, and client relationships are already known to current personnel. When compared to selling to an outside buyer, this can help the transfer go more smoothly.

– Goodwill. Selling to staff members shows that you value and care about your employees efforts. It demonstrates your dedication to the legacy of the business. The surviving employees' morale and loyalty may increase as a result.

- Tax benefits. Selling to an employee stock ownership plan may allow you to postpone paying capital gains taxes (ESOP). 

Potential Drawbacks

- Problems with financing. Employees might not have the money or resources necessary to buy you out. It may be complicated to put financing strategies in place.

- Diluted ownership. You might have to sell ownership gradually in order to keep the buyout within the means of the employees. Up until you totally cash out, your control is lessened.

- Difficulties in leadership. Employees might not yet possess the managerial and leadership abilities required of them. You might need to continue serving in an advisory capacity.

- An increase in employee risk. Being an owner means that employees' means of support and retirement savings are now entwined with the company. Financial ruin might befall employees if the business becomes unprofitable.

- Problems with value. Employees can use leverage to undervalue the business and offer lowball bids, putting the owner in a “hostage” situation. 

Key Considerations

Start the process early if you're selling to employees to give yourself time for complicated financing schemes. Be open and honest about the company's activities and finances. Obtain expert appraisals, and set up the agreement so that you are fairly compensated and your employees are protected from unwarranted risk. Create a formal transition plan including ownership stakes, duties, and your role after the sale. Selling your company to employees can be advantageous for you and your personnel if done properly and in an open and honest manner. However, failing to assess the advantages and difficulties could jeopardize your legacy and the financial destiny of your employees.