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.

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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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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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