5 key elements in a successful business transfer


There's no magic number to how many hours or days you need
to spend on the process, but there's no doubt that the earlier
you start, the better the shot for a smooth transition.

Marie-Christine Daignault | Desjardins Group

Farming isn’t just a career, it’s a lifestyle. So a transfer is a crucial moment for the life of the business, the people who are moving on, and the ones starting up.

Take these 5 things seriously so your dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

1. Time

Too many farmers put business transfers off until “later.” There’s no magic number to how many hours or days you need to spend on the process, but there’s no doubt that the earlier you start, the better the shot for a smooth transition.

Planning is an ongoing process that enables a business to adapt and survive as time goes on.

Tips

Transferor: Start saving up for retirement as soon as you can, and build up a sum that’s not directly tied to the commercial value of the farm.
Buyer: Don’t leave your retirement planning until “later” either; start thinking about it from day one. All the business decisions you make should take into account the long-term outlook of the business and your retirement.

2. Communication

Poor communication can ruin what seemed like a flawless deal. Talking about the transfer and the business gives both parties a chance to provide input on the future of the business and is the best way to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Good communication means:

  • Clearly explaining your intentions to all the parties involved (family, employees, clients, suppliers and advisors)
  • Being transparent
  • Keeping the channels of dialogue open and holding regular meetings
  • Passing on relevant information at the right time
  • Respecting others and what they’ve already accomplished

Tips

Transferor: Listen and have an open mind.
Buyer: Act early and show interest often.

3. Training

Things can move fast and it’s important to stay up to speed in terms of skills and knowledge. Try to participate in seminars, technical conferences, continuing education and training, overseas missions or educational trips, etc.

Cutting-edge knowledge and the right training gives you the tools you need to ensure continued business growth and takes some pressure off your manager.

Tips

Transferor: Stay curious and interested in what’s new. Don’t pass up the opportunity to pass on knowledge.
Buyer: Take advantage of any opportunities to improve skills and knowledge and talk to your peers.

4. Planning

Studies have proven that the more prepared a business is before a transfer, the better the outlook after the transfer. Good planning takes time, and above all else, a game plan.

Tips

Transferor: Think about how to slowly step away while helping the new owner step into their new role running the business.
Buyer: Try to understand your needs, your goals and your limits as early on in the process as possible.

5. Support

It’s not always finding the right people to have around and support you. It depends on your project, your activities and your entrepreneurial strengths, weaknesses and overall profile.

Various professionals contribute to a business transfer. The account manager, financial planner, tax expert, accountant and notary all contribute knowledge and skills and play a role in figuring out transfer strategies and the right steps to take.

No one likes starting over every time a new stakeholder comes to the table, so it can really help to have someone on your side that you can trust to take the lead and handle the transfer. Traditionally, their role is to keep the various players informed and call meetings when necessary so people on both sides of the deal are happy with the end result.

Tips

Transferor: Trust the person or people taking over.
Buyer: Try to understand your strengths and weaknesses.

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