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University of Minnesota Extension

Supporting business succession and transition

Communities, get ready for a wave of retirements

What happens to your favorite local businesses and shops when the owner(s) retires? Small business owners in Minnesota are aging. The most recent U.S. Census data from 2021 shows that about 53% of owners are 55+ years old — this number has been increasing. By 2030, all owners who are baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) will be at least 65 and retired or considering when to take that step.

Rural, urban and suburban communities are especially concerned about retiring baby boomers who may not have a plan to sell their businesses. The health of small businesses is critical to local economies. They provide not only jobs, but also important goods and services needed for quality of life. Of course, this issue is not only about baby boomers. Whether your exit is three years or three decades away, every business owner needs an exit strategy.

Beyond economic contributions, small businesses also play a crucial role in the civic and philanthropic life of communities. For small business owners in rural, urban and suburban areas, the community is not just where they conduct business, it may also be their home. The economic and civic structure of the community benefits from their success.

How can communities and business owners prepare?

Having a business succession and transition plan is important. To help with creating a plan and moving through the process, Extension has tools and resources you may use. Below are educational videos, courses, new research, and some critical ways communities can support businesses.


Extension has designed short videos (2-4 minutes) to help businesses successfully transition. Whether you are an owner, employee, adviser, economic developer, or perhaps a prospective buyer or entrepreneur, select short clips that match your interest. Learn from experts and people who have successfully transitioned a business.

Featured videos

Selected playlists

Find more videos/playlists on YouTube

Online course

Are you a business owner or co-owner, manager, key employee or family member? We offer an online course to prepare you for business transition and succession. View the available options below.

There are no scheduled events or courses.

[Recent research] What are owners thinking and doing on their transitions?

Extension conducted a study in 2023 of Minnesota business owner preparedness for succession and transition. We received 286 survey responses from owners of businesses with 5 to 500 employees. We learned about owners’ awareness, attitudes, aspirations, and actions in preparing for transitioning their businesses to new owners and leaders.

Review the research

Virtual workshop for community leaders

Take Extension's virtual workshop to learn how your community can support business succession planning.  When done, you'll better understand business succession, what business owners need to know, and actions community leaders can take. Find materials — such as videos, slides and worksheets — to help you create a community business transition plan.

We offer this workshop free of charge. Choose to take it all at once or over time.

Start the workshop

Ways communities can support businesses

In 2016, Extension studied how small rural communities will keep businesses as a massive generational transfer of ownership and leadership occurs. We conducted our research to help communities understand what they can do to help business transfer succeed.

Our research indicates communities can offer critical support to businesses before and after a transition.


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Extension educators work in communities with partners throughout Minnesota. Contact us for consultation, guidance and conversation about your community.

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Reviewed in 2024

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