There comes a time when owner-managers of small firms choose, or are forced, to retire. This decision gives rise to a succession problem. This predicament can be resolved through family succession; by selling the firm to an insider or outsider; or the owner-manager can either sell or dispose of the businesses’ assets. Closure of these viable businesses represent business transfer failures which have consequences for the contribution of these small firms to employment and output in the regions in which they are located.

Little is known on what determines the owner-manager’s choice of end-game. Previous research has primarily examined intergenerational succession in family businesses (Bennedsen et al., 2006; Burkart et al. 2003). Attributes of alternative succession routes of small firms have only received scant attention in the past (Zajec et al., 2006; Howarth et al. 2004). In this paper, we explore firm (e.g. the firms attractiveness) and market (e.g. pool of buyers) specific characteristics on the entrepreneur’s expectations for its end-game strategy.