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Many businesses simply cannot be sold, and others end up being sold for far less than expected, said Randy Gerber, founder of Gerber L.L.C., which helps business owners manage their personal finances. And even if a business can be sold, he said, owners often have an unrealistic notion of how much it might be worth. That is why a potential sale should not be an owner’s only plan for retirement.

As a business owner, your business and your life are pretty hard to separate. Your business partner or right-hand employee may be a spouse, a sibling or that college roommate. Chances are your assets are entirely bound up in the company, and you might even intend to sell the business to fund your entire retirement. Not so fast!

This was the advice given in a recent New York Times article titled “Sell a Business to Cover Retirement? Don’t Count on It.

When it comes to your business, you might be OK with the idea that it is empowering your financial life (or is it your life that is empowering the business itself?). Regardless, there will come a time when you and the business must part. This will be one of the most important events in your life and in the life of your business. Question: will this even be planned or just happen?

If the business is your greatest asset, you are just going to sell it and live comfortably in retirement, right? Perhaps. What if it is not worth as much in the market as it is in your mind?

If the business is your principal retirement asset, then knowing its value and preparing it for the transition is of utmost importance. This transaction will determine your future well-being, and perhaps the future well-being of your entire family for a long time. Accordingly, this transition will take structuring and forethought.

Will your business be your retirement? If yes, then it is never too early to structure the transaction.

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