Many independent insurance agency owners build their business with the goal of selling the agency when they reach their 60s or 70s and using the proceeds to fund a comfortable retirement. But what happens if things don’t go as planned? A downturn in the business market—or worse, the death of the owner—can force an unplanned or unfavorable sale, which could have a negative impact on the owner, owner’s heirs, or agency employees.

The 2014 Future One Agency Universe Study estimates that 14 percent of independent agencies do not have a perpetuation plan in place, although industry insiders believe the number is much higher. Often, agency owners are so focused on managing the day-to-day business that they don’t consider what the future may hold. Here are three approaches to business perpetuation planning that can help ensure that your independent agency continues when you are no longer at the helm, and also ensure that you get the most value from your business while facilitating a smooth transition to new ownership.