The Complexities and Issues of Business

A chief concern for many business owners is how to arrange the orderly transfer of business to the next generation of family members or key employees. By far the biggest concern is how to keep the family business and the family. It is estimated that more than 70% of family-owned businesses do not survive the transition from the founder to the second-generation.

There are essentially three levels of the business succession plan.

Management; this is day-to-day management of the business which can be left to one person, one child or a group  of children. Also, this group might not be active in the business. This group could also include key employees rather than family members

Ownership; most owners would prefer to leave their businesses to the children that are active in the business. However, not all the children might be involved. Owners would still like to treat their children fairly, but not necessarily equally. Consequently, if the business interest is not left to a group of children, some other value would be left to the non-business children. A subset of this topic is whether the business owner will need a continued economic benefit from the business after the transfer. Also, will the business owner continue to control the business after the transfer is complete.

Transfer taxes; estate taxes can erode business value.   The question would be is there enough liquidity to take on the debt and keep the business going? This is truly a challenge to high-value business especially with a estate tax being a moving target as to the exemptions and percentage of taxations.

 Level I management

It might take many years for an owner to train the successor management team so that the business can run automatically. This allows the owner to walk away from the day by day operations. To do this the owner must give up control and tasks in which they ordinarily controlled. This is easier said than done. Whether the owner creates a management team with the next generation, or a key group of employees, the owner must learn to delegate important tasks.

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Will You Go Broke Selling Your Business?

If I sell my business today, pay my taxes, brokers and professional advisors, and  “I then invest the remainder conservatively, will I still be able to enjoy my current lifestyle?” Most business owners have asked themselves this question. After building a successful business, they wonder if they will net enough cash from its sale to maintain their standard of living. Often, after calculating the potential returns of investing the sale proceeds, they realize they can make more money by holding onto the business and becoming “passive” owners.

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Transferring A Business To Insiders

Selling your business is an important financial transaction that requires a well developed exit strategy. Many owners view their business as much more than an asset. They’ve poured their hearts and souls into it. Maintaining the established business culture motivates them to sell to insiders. In fact, 95% of all sale transactions involve insiders, who may include co-owners, family members, managers and key employees. The insider group that is buying the business is called a key employee group (KEG).

There are four ways to transfer a business to insiders: Continue reading “Transferring A Business To Insiders”

What If I Want to Recruit a Key Employee?

The objectives of recruiting a key executive from the marketplace are to make your business more profitable, to grow the company and / or to bring talent to your business that does not currently exist. You must design incentive plans that achieve those goals.

You will always be a slave to your business unless you have capable management in place to run the business when you are not there. If you someday hope to sell your business to an outside buyer, you will need to have solid managers in place to get serious consideration from an outside buyer. As is the case with most companies, the management team could someday become your buyers. If you want to transfer your business to your children, you will need key employees in place to assist them with the transition.

In order to attract the right person to your company, you must offer them an incentive plan that rewards them for efforts that increase the value / profitability of your business.

You should pay a key employee for projects that they initiate. This could be an additional six percent or more of their base pay. When this key employee has a positive effect on the rest of the management team, pay them a bonus based upon that influence. This could be 10 – 20 percent of their base.

When hiring for key management, we find that most compensation packages combine base and incentives. Determine the incentive on the company’s growth once that employee joins you. Decide how much you are willing to pay the right employee and then back into that figure.

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What If I Want to Take Care of Myself?

Business owners have experienced a well-publicized meltdown in traditional financing. Now they want to know how they can prevent themselves from being vulnerable again!

Become Your Own Bank

What if you set a goal today to accumulate money on your own? Shore up reserves for use in emergencies in your business, or for business opportunities, investments and personal retirement. You take care of your employees, your vendors and your customers. What if you think about taking care of yourself? Traditional savings vehicles are not as attractive as they were in the past. Many companies have eliminated pension plans. Those companies that haven’t are finding that, in many cases, the owner can’t put a substantial amount away for himself. Today’s business owner wants to accumulate money for the future’s “what ifs” without depending on outside financing sources.

Set up a SIP

The solution is a supplemental income plan, or SIP. If properly designed, a SIP accomplishes several things. The growth is tax-deferred. If accessed correctly, the gain is tax-free. There are no contribution rules and no required distributions. Moreover, there is a pre-retirement survivor benefit paid to the family in case of the death of the business owner, also tax-free. With the cash flow rigors of owning your business, putting money aside gets more difficult every day. Traditional methods no longer work or are no longer attractive. Safety is a greater concern now than in the past. Business owners want to control their own financial destinies without depending on credit lines, business loans and outside financing. What if, going forward, you finance your own business purchases? Every cent you pay in financing costs is lost forever. Eliminate these costs in the future and use your SIP for purchases, investments, opportunities and emergencies. The savings on financing goes back into your pocket. This is perhaps the best recession-era lesson for business owners to absorb today and to never forget in the future. Do not rely heavily on outside funding in the form of loans, vendor financing or even business credit cards.

Today’s business owner wants to accumulate money for the future’s “what ifs” without depending on outside financing sources.

Do It for You

Right now, business owners must take care of themselves because no one else is going to do this for them. Valley business owners constantly tell me they are tired of lying awake at night, staring at the bedroom ceiling and worrying about cash flow. A supplemental retirement plan is simple. It does not involve any administration or fees. There is no ERISA or IRS involvement. Where is the best place to invest as you bulk up your SIP? In the past, you had two choices. You had market-driven vehicles that we now realize can be a roller coaster ride or safe vehicles that yielded small or no returns. Here is a new option for you and your professional financial advisor to consider. Life insurance—a product that has been around for more than 200 years—may present the flexibility and growth you seek.

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What If I Want A No-Sell Buy / Sell!

There are business partners who at their death, want their family to continue to own their shares even though the family member will not be actively involved with the business.   We see this with businesses that are expected to grow significantly. Each owner wants their family to share in the future growth even if they should die prematurely.

A no-sell buy/sell agreement has a fairly simple structure. The management and the voting stock all remain with the surviving owner. The deceased’s ownership interest remains with his family. We take each owner’s interest in the business and divide into voting and nonvoting stock. Upon the death of one of the owners, the deceased’s voting interest is bought by the surviving owner per the terms of the buy/sell agreement. The non-voting interest of the deceased owner remains with his family. This way, if the business does grow significantly, the family of the deceased will share in the growth. The control of the business remains in the hands of the surviving owner. The family of the deceased owner has non-voting interest in the business only and cannot expect to see any money out of the deal unless, and until, the business is sold. Continue reading “What If I Want A No-Sell Buy / Sell!”

Passive Ownership! My Cake And Eat It Too!

 

One of the options a business owner has to exit their business is to use a Passive Ownership Method.  This allows the business owner to stick around and be involved with the business, but to step away in the daily running of the business.  When done correctly and with planning in advance the owner is fundamentally self-sustaining and does not have to head up the company.  The owner is there to overlook the financial part of the company, much like a mentor. Key people are the self-sustaining element.

Divulge the culture values; sharing the same values as you, and what formed your foundation.  By communicating with your employees what you did in all the areas of growing your business, they will feel a part of it and continue with the same traditions, habits, and ideas which became the business owner’s foundation of success.  This will build a good foundation which will allow the business owner to delegate more of the tasks to others, allowing a self-sustaining company, with a growing management team.  This is the framework that attracts investors to the company, knowing that the traditions and the culture can continue.

Improve cash flow; By increasing cash flow, you create options and markets to buy your business.  For the outside investor, they see a cash flow that will continue without the owner, for the inside buyer, they have the cash flow to purchase the business owner out and complete the purchase of the business over time.  For the passive owner, a good cash flow allows the business to sustain itself, as you enjoy the role of a passive owner; taking out a good salary, paying the key people good salaries, and enjoying life by being a passive owner.  So, how do you create and improve cash flow.  The best way is move cash flow up to the front of the line as a priority.  Having cash flow meetings weekly with your management team will help you with the ideas you need to either increase cash flow through sales, or through expenses attrition. In any event by putting this topic in the front and getting feedback from your management team regularly, you will be able to come up with great ideas to increase cash flow and profits.  Continue reading “Passive Ownership! My Cake And Eat It Too!”