The Six Most Costly Financial Mistakes Business Owners Make Costing Them to Owe Huge Taxes!

Many business owners are unaware of the opportunities they have in creating wealth through their business.  Many owners put too much wealth in their business, where it can be tied up or hard to get out.  It also prevents them from accumulating outside retirement funds.

There are several ways to create wealth through your business on a tax-efficient basis which many owners are not aware of.  

I would like to share with you the six mistakes that prevent owners from creating more wealth by utilizing the business cash flow. 

  1. NOT IMPLEMENTING A CEEP: (Corporate Executive Equity Plan) for themselves.  This is one of the most tax effective methods of creating personal wealth using corporate cash flow.  The cost of providing this wealth creating account costs the owner about 30% of the tax cost.  Example: if the company bonused $20,000 to the owner for a personal retirement plan, the tax cost would be $6,000 each year.  However, under a CEEP arrangement, the cost would only be a $60 the first year, and about $1,200 the 20th year. This is one of the most misunderstood concepts in executive compensation by attorneys, insurance professionals and CPA’S.  Consequently, it might be considered under used.  However, the executive compensation specialist understands how the plans work and how it can be of great value for the business owner in shifting income from the company to the personal side of the owner. 
  2. NOT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE SECTION 412(e)(1): which allows the owner to make a substantial number of tax-deductible contributions into a retirement plan skewed towards the higher paid owner.  Example, the owner aged 50 can deposit up to $213,905 fully tax-deductible.  Great for good cash flow companies.
  3. NOT USING THE “SAFE HARBOR RETIREMENT PLAN”: where a substantial amount of the tax-deductible contributions can be allocated to the higher paid participants.  Also, included in this arrangement is the “Cash Balance Plan”.  These plans create greater tax-deductions for higher paid employees.   
  4. NOT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF   A RESTRICTED BENEFIT PLANS (RBP): which is a discriminatory and tax-deductible plan.  It can be used to provide valuable benefits to retain key people.  The business owner keeps the forfeitures if the employee leaves before vested. This can lock your key group to your company.  
  5. NOT CREATING A DEFERRED COMPENSATION PLAN:  This is a flexible, separate, and discretionary retirement benefit that can also become a mechanism for funding the sale of your business in the future and create retirement income. The pot is sweetened when you add a DBO (Death Benefit Only) to the planning. 
  6. NOT CREATING AND NOT FUNDING YOUR BUY AND SELL AGREEMENTS: A disability, long term illness, or death may occur long before the owner planned to exit their business, creating a path to financial disaster not only for the owner, but their family, partners, and employees.  This is one of the most egregious mistakes I see business owners make.  Many times, it goes unnoticed by the advisors.  This is one of the reasons why I am an advocate of check-off lists, “fire drills”, and annual reviews.[i]

Simply Put!  By Utilizing These Common Benefits, Owners Can Maximize Their Fullest Potential Business Value! 

To help you understand some of the ways to utilize your business cash flow to create more wealth for you and your family, I put together this FREE WHITE PAPER, CALLED “A TAX -FREE LIFESTYLE FOR BUSINESS OWNERS”, AND I would like to GIVE this FREE WHITE PAPER TO YOU.  

THIS REPORT will help you understand how you can use your business to take advantage of discriminatory benefits   plans for yourself, family members, and key employees.    The Tax-Free Lifestyle REPORT is strictly for small business owners who want to grow their business while creating more wealth outside of their business.   I designed this white paper to help business owners avoid the COMMON MISTAKES made by other business owners which forced them to work more years, save less retirement, pay more in taxes, and tied up too much wealth in their business, creating more stress, and had no free time for themselves! 

You’ll also discover in the TAX-FREE REPORT:

  • One simple concept allowing you to retire with more wealth or retire years sooner.  (This one simple financial principle is rarely ever talked about on “pop news” financial TV shows or by other so-called “financial planners”. 
  •  2 proven strategies to increase cash flow and reduce expenses if you really want to sleep at night!
  • 3 secret ways to have your business build a tax-free wealth account for your personal and business use!
  • Your Business DNA” Understanding this key allows you to double your savings and retirement investing without making a single dollar more in income or investing in more capital equipment and labor.
  •  5 value drivers to prepare your business for a sale, even 20 years in advance!
  • How a simple inexpensive benefit plan can keep your key people! 
  • How creating a Deferred Compensation plan can help finance the future sale of your business.
  • How having a benefit plan for you in the future can lower your cost to sell your business?
  • Misleading and incorrect “old wives’ tales” about creating wealth in your business. 
  • Tax saving strategies that 9 out of 10 business owners don’t use and end up paying more taxes
  • Much more…

TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE   NO OBLIGATION WHITE PAPER Called: 

The Tax-Free Lifestyle for Business Owners”

To request your free white paper 

CLICK SUBMIT:     Wealth Without Taxes Report

Once you submit your email address, you will receive your report immediately! Enjoy!

Now you may be asking…Why would I spend my own money to send you this FREE WHITE PAPER? Think of it as my personal introduction… a way for you to get to know me better.  Nothing more than that! 

Often enough, when business owners learn the information in this guide, they decide they want to know more about what we do, and possibly do business with us so they can have our business owner expertise and in-depth knowledge of how business owners think.  I know, I am one of them. I know what you think because I think about it all the time.  Let’s say 24/7 to be safe! Just as you value the expertise in your business field, I believe working with a financial expert who knows what it is to run a business and knows the business world is critical to your financial health.

That’s it!  Let me send you “The Tax-Free Lifestyle for Business Owners”.   Do with it what you want. Maybe you’ll want to talk to us further, maybe you won’t.   There is no obligation to do so.

Either way, I think you’ll find the information in this report will be immensely valuable to helping deal with the “what if’s, grow your business value, enjoy it more, and create more time for you and your family while creating an almost “stress-free” life with tremendous financial freedom in the future.  Oh yes! NO TAXES EITHER!    Visit www.yourbusinessworth.com  to learn more! 

FOR A 7 MINUTE VIDEO


[i] Paul Hood: “Buy and Sell Agreements- the last will and testament for business owners”.  Paul discusses his check off list, and his “fire drill”.  I am an advocate for these systems to make sure the buy and sell agreement is a perfect of a fit to the entity and owners as possible. 

Critical Step Needed To Create An Exit Strategy! Part 1 

Some business owners think that selling their business is a matter of getting an appraisal and putting the business on the market hoping for a good offer.

Many business owners that I have worked with initially assumed they knew the value of their business and what they could sell it for.

Through our education process they realized there is much more to selling their business, then just the establishing a value and then going to market.     One of those factors or variables is whether the business owner needs the business value for their future retirement, most do!

Helping the owner figure out what they need for retirement is critical in establishing what they need to sell their business for, and what action is needed to increase the future value of the business (Value Drivers).  In this article I will cover two of the seven steps that  are the most critical when planning a future exit from the business.

Whether the sale is one year or ten years from now, these are the steps needed to sell  a business.

  1. Must identify the Exit Objectives (why, when, and in some cases who) 
  2. Identify Personal and business financial resources; (this is part of the future financial security of the business owner and their family).  
  3. Maximize and Protect Business Value
  4. Ownership Transfer to Third Parties
  5. Ownership Transfers to Insiders
  6. Business Continuity
  7. Personal Wealth and Estate planning

In this post I will cover steps 1-3, and cover steps 4-7 in the June issue.  

In comprehensive Exit planning, (when you break the process down it looks like this):

Your Exit Objectives

  • Building and preserving business value
  • Selling your company to a third party
  • Transferring your ownership to insiders

Your Business and Personal Financial Resources

  • Business Continuity
  • Personal wealth and estate planning

Owner’s goals and aspirations are

  • Financial Need
  • Overall Goals
  • Value based goals
  • Defining the owner’s goals and aspirations shows the client’s wants and needs and identifies what is  important to the business owner. By spending time collecting this information from the business owner we establish a strong relationship, while differentiating you, and allowing you to be the quarterback of the plan.

Accurate information from the owner is critical to planning.      Calculating what the GAP of resources the owner needs to have in order to supply their future retirement income is critical.  It is here where the measurement of their resources helps to decide what they need to sell their business for, to help fund the gap.    Continue reading “Critical Step Needed To Create An Exit Strategy! Part 1 “

Life Insurance Proceeds In Business Valuations

If life insurance proceeds are considered as the funding vehicle, then the proceeds of the policy received following the death of a shareholder would not be considered a corporate asset for valuation purposes.(1)

It would be recognized that it was purchased for a specific purpose of funding the buy-sell agreement (BSA). IF it were considered a corporate asset, it would offset the company’s liability to fund the purchase of shares, added back as a non- recurring expense.

Treatment 1: (used as a funding vehicle, not a company asset)

Example: A company with a $10m value, has two shareholders, owning 50% of the company. The company holds a $6m life insurance policy on each owner (assuming no alternative minimum tax issues).

RESULTS: At Shareholder #1’s death, the company collects $6m of life insurance benefits. The surviving partner will receive $10m company value, and $1m of net tax-free proceeds, a total of $11m value. The deceased stockholder receives the $5m for the business.

Treatment 2: (A corporate asset)

Treating the life insurance as corporate assets for valuation purposes.

The proceeds are treated as a non-operating asset of the company. This asset along with other net assets, would be available to fund the purchase the of shares the of a deceased shareholder. Keep in mind that the expense of the deceased stockholder might be added back into income as a nonrecurring expense.  (2)

The treatment type can have a significant effect on the net position of a company or selling shareholder. There is also an affect in the ability of the company to purchase the shares of the deceased stockholder, and impact of the position of the remaining shareholders.

Company $10m, before $6m of life insurance. When you add the $6m into the value, the company value is $16m. The deceased shareholder entitled to $8m, the company pays $6m in life insurance proceeds and takes out $2m in promissory note.

RESULTS: The surviving owner, owns a company with 8 million and a note of $2 million.

Which treatment is fair? One owner ends us with $11m while the deceased owner, ends up with $5m. In treatment 2, the surviving owner has to carry a $2m debt to purchase the business. Two dramatic differences. A good reason, why the discussion should take place with your advisors.

More importantly, all parties should understand the ramifications of adding the life insurance proceeds in the valuation or using the life insurance as a specific vehicle to fund the BSA.

——————————

1. Mercer: buy and sell agreements for boomers

2. Non-reoccurring expenses: Non-reoccurring expenses can be somewhat more complex. These are expenses which is  specifically  designated on the company’s financial statements as an extra ordinary or one time expense.  The company does not expect to continue the expense overtime, at least not on a regular basis. Non-reoccurring expenses can be somewhat more complex. 

THE SECRETS OF BUILDING A GREAT ORGANIZATION

I recently read a book called,” The Secrets Of Building A Great Organization”, by Bruce Clinton owner of BusinessWise, L.L.C., a business consulting and coaching firm based in Connecticut.

I found the book to be very interesting because, not only does it provide a road map of management for newer managers, but it re-educates older experienced managers in the most up to date strategies.

Bruce is the first person to mention that there are no magic formulas in being a good manager, however, with the basic strategies that he covers, a good manager, through their own talents, can become a great manager using the strategies Bruce discusses.

Many of the strategies are ones that Bruce uses in his practice as a business coach, and strategies developed while he ran different businesses.

For anyone who is a business owner or running a business, I would suggest this read.  In the book it is mentioned that most business owners don’t consider themselves good managers or they feel they don’t know enough about managing.

Any business owner who does $1-$150 million in annual sales, has 8-200 employees, is family owned and may be facing growth or succession issues, should read this book.

What I really enjoyed about the book is the small details that Bruce covers which are needed to build a successful business.  These are details which are not normally discussed in detail.  The book covers the importance of them.  These are the small details that make all the difference in the world of a business’ success, and Bruce covers them extremely well.  For example:

  • Overcoming communication breakdowns
  • Dealing with levels of incompetence
  • Fitting family members into the business
  • Retaining good employees
  • Building a workable succession plan

Continue reading “THE SECRETS OF BUILDING A GREAT ORGANIZATION”

The Major Reason Why Business Owners Don’t Plan For Maximizing Their Business’ Financial Potential Is Now Eliminated!

Many business owners spend the majority of their time running their businesses and inadvertently end up neglecting some of the more important aspects of their business. This is the time where all the details of the success of your business are planned. We call this “working ON your business”.

Business owners can be vulnerable to financial mistakes because of many factors.

One of the key details of a business owner is what happens to their business in the following scenarios:

  1. What happens if I die?
  2. What happens if I become ill, or have a long-term disability?
  3. What happens if I lost my key person, or my key group of employees?
  4. What happens if I can’t control cash flow, or just don’t want to run the business any longer?

Unfortunately, many business owners don’t spend the time working on their business for many reasons.  Many owners think it’s expensive, complicated and very time consuming.

The truth is that by not working on their business, should any of the above scenarios occur, the consequences would be much more expensive, time consuming and potentially devastating.

In our planning practice, we estimate the average time to create a business and estate financial plans for a business owner, is five to ten hours, not including time with attorneys and accountants who are a part of the team.

How does our process work?

Our system is built around planning with the least amount of time needed for the business owner’s time.  To do this we use technology in communication such as phone conferences, video conferences, and audio and video productions to explain our client’s situation.  This allows the business owner to eliminate using work hours for this project.  We can do this technologically with clarity and brevity.  Our plan is focused on brevity for the business owner.

Our Process: 

  1. Viewpoint Meeting: Define what are some of the areas of concern using our Viewpoint System.  This is a 30 minutes conversation.  Our business owners need about ten minutes to prepare using this aid.
  2. “The Selection Meeting”. Once we define the areas of concern, we dig deeper with a 45-minute Selection Meeting. This is where we discuss all of the possible areas where the client may have problems and concerns.
  3. “The Planning Stage” is the longest meeting. This is about 1½ hours.  Prior to the meeting, we send our client material which they can review and prepare on their own time.  This takes them about 20-30 minutes to complete.
  4. The Discovery Meeting is about one hour where we bring together our findings based on their personal situation and discuss which issues and direction of implementation the client may wish to go. Again, our client receives the information to review prior to our Discovery Meeting[i].
  5. Implementation Session: This is where we start implementation needed to solve the issues.  This is the time when all of the client’s advisors work together to get the planning completed.  For example, our findings are discussed with the professional team and look for their advice and suggestions.    Also, this process brings everyone on the team up to date on the business owners’ situation.  This process breeds new ideas and strategies (earlier in the process, I would have been in touch with these advisors between the Discovery and Implementation Meeting). This may be the first time the client has had all of their advisors working together and sharing knowledge about the business owner! 
  6. Semi-Annual or Annual Review:  This is where we move on to the next area of concern; One concern at a time (in some cases, there may be overlapping of concerns and they can be bundled in the planning).  If there are no additional concerns, we review what has been implemented. This is an automatic process, so we are always adjusting as the business situation changes.

For business owners who realize that they need work  on their business, our process can maximize their business’ potential profit, organize them in a timely fashion, and fine-tune them in the future, so they can maximize their “business potential value” when they exit from their business.

[i] We plan for this time, but do not limit this session to a time schedule.

Get Ready Now To Sell Your Business Tomorrow!

To get ready to sell your business, you will need to start preparing years in advance.  It’s like wanting to sell you home, you don’t know when, but you know you wish to sell it.  It could happen years from now or it can happen tomorrow.  Key to Success of selling your business!   Be ready at all times !   

 Some things to decide  

This is not a complete list, but it is a list of things to start the process of selling your business and marketing decisions.  

 Establish preliminary exit objectives 

  • Prepare for life after retirement 
  • Get market information  
  • Start working on your team-intermediary, investment banker or broker 
  • Review value drivers and what to do to enhance them  
  • Get your employee prepared 
  • Start your tax planning (this takes time to position yourself and organization 
  • Implement the incentive plans and stay bonuses 
  • Market to potential buyers  
  • Establish  a departure date 
  • Define what you need for your financial security from your business 

 This  is only a brief list of what you need to start working on before you sell your business.  Keep in mind that the sooner you start the better the chances or selling with more potential profile.  There is a lot of work to do if you wish to extract from your business the highest possible potential profit from your business.   

 

Why Would Anyone Want To Buy Your Business At The Price That You Set?

The present value of the cash flow is a way of pricing out your company.  A high certainty that the company will produce steady, predictable cash flow.  Cash flow is king! Predictability only creates more value.   

 A buyer is willing to pay your price  if you have a plethora of tangible and intangible assets and systems that function like a Swiss watch.  

 Swiss Watch” of a company needs to produce the consistent cash flow without you.  As an owner you want to sell your business and move on.  In many cases, a purchaser may want the owner to stay on and run the company for  a period of time.  However, if your company is able to produce a cash flow without you, it not only allows you to get your price, but allows you to get out of dodge.   

It is worth your while to put together a talented management team, that can not only keep the cash flow consistent, but has the ability to keep the cash flow machine working even if you are not there.  Your key management team may be the most important element of your business.   

 Whether buyers are strategic buyers, or financial buyers, they will be looking for value drivers.  From the beginning of your business ownership, these are the things you need to start working on.   

Partial list:   

  • Key management group 
  • Loyal client base with diversification (most of your firms revenue should come from more than 10% of the clients)  
  • Efficient production and manufacturing facilities 
  • Leading edge products or services 
  • Supplier network 
  • Intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, trade name) 
  • Steady, predictable solid profits and cash flow 
  • Proven growth record 
  • Effective workforce in place 
  • Transferable franchise or license 
  • Key location or territory 
  • Barriers to entry for a startup 
  • Research and product development team  
  • Company name 
  • Exclusive territory  
  • Above industry average financial ratios 
  • Systematized business processes/documented so continuing success is not dependent on any particular person (including the owner) 

 

These are the areas of your business you need to develop and maximize in order to demonstrate the potential for steady predictable growth in the future.   

 Since the price you will be asking for your business is relevant to your successful retirement (to fill the retirement gap), you will want to spend the time in the areas which will increase the value of your business.  Usually, they will be Industry-Specific Business Benchmarks.   

 Knowing how your competitors are using their resources and the efficiency which they are utilizing them can give you ideas about the strategies being used, and strategies you can compare to your methods.   If you are utilizing your resources better than your competitions, you will be able to negotiate a better price for your business.  

 

 

LOOKING WITHIN FOR YOUR POTENTIAL SALE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

A major challenge for a small business owner is selling their business for the right price and to the right purchaser.  However, in most cases we find that many business owners don’t spend the needed time to do this planning.  Consequently, they jeopardize the potential sale price.

Many small businesses will not be purchased from an outside purchaser, (about 5%), but the sale could come from either family members or inside employees of the business.

A 2003 study suggested that owners felt nine out of ten family owned business leaders thought their business will continue to be run by the same family or families in the next five years. [1]

You may have considered keeping the ownership of the business in the family and may have already gifted stock or sold stock to your children.  If this is the case, your planning should be more directed to other parts of the financial life, and possibly the role as a passive owner in the business.

Continue reading “LOOKING WITHIN FOR YOUR POTENTIAL SALE OF YOUR BUSINESS!”

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.

Continue reading “The Complexities and Issues of Business”

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.

Continue reading “What If I Want to Recruit a Key Employee?”