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Levin and Harvey share how they sold businesses

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Delaware small businesses are at a tipping point, according to Michael Bowman, state director for the Small Business Development Center.

“It’s the only time in history that four generations are in the workforce,” Bowman said. “People are putting off retirement and we have millennials coming.”

Across the country, 76 million baby boomers are approaching retirement age. Margo Reign, a business adviser with the development center, called them the most entrepreneurial generation in American history.

Almost 80 people attended a Small Business Development Center-Delaware Business Times breakfast on family business succession at The Queen this morning.

Alan Levin, former owner of Happy Harry’s, and Thomas Harvey, former owner of Harvey and Harvey Waste Management, addressed the challenges and joys of selling a family business.

They gave this advice for owners contemplating a sale:

  • Work with the SBDC or your attorney or financial adviser so that you know the market value of your business before you look for a buyer.
  • Get organized. Have all your accounts straight.
  • Take actions that will protect your customers and your employees. They are also family.
  • Build your business into one that has verifiable value.
  • Realize that, even if the new owners ask you to stay on, they may not be interested in your opinions.
  • When you give potential buyers your information, you must be ready to sell because they are also your competitors.
  • Once you step into the market, rumors may start and there may be no way to pull back on your decision to sell.
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