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succession plan getting started

Business Succession Planning: Getting Started

The best time to have a succession plan in place is the day you start your business. If you do not already have a succession plan in place, today is the day. While many business owners believe getting started is difficult, it is quite simple. The majority of people think it can wait because it’s too big of a topic to cover. When creating a plan, remember to keep it simple and aim for progress, not perfection.

First, business owners need to consider what would ideally happen under two scenarios, retirement and death. The first is easier to think about for a lot of people, so we’ll start with that one and cover death in another post.

When considering retirement, business owners should think about it at least three to five if not ten to twenty-five years in advance. According to the Department of Labor, it is never too early to start planning for retirement. First, talk with your advisors and family, 3-5 years out. Your team of advisors should include your CPA, Attorney, and Financial Planner.

Conversation Starters for Your Team of Advisors:
  • What is my business worth today?
  • How much money do I need in retirement?
  • What can I do between now and my retirement date to build the business valuation?
  • What do I want to happen with the business when I retire?
    • Am I passing it to the next generation of family?
      • Will it be a gift?
      • Will it be bought with cash or over time?
    • Am I going to sell it?
      • Who are the potential buyers – individual buyers, financial buyers, or strategic buyers?
    • Should I let the management team run it, but I will own it still?
      • Are they capable?
      • What type of incentives do I need to put in place to make this work?
  • What am I going to do in retirement?
    • Am I going to stop working completely?
    • Will I do some consulting or gig-economy type work?

This is the starting point. Of course, there are many subsets of questions that will drive the conversation. Discuss these topics with your family to ensure everyone is aligned about what retirement looks like from a timing and lifestyle perspective. These questions can lead down many different avenues. Your team of advisors will guide you down the path that best fits your goals. Business succession planning is far from one-size-fits-all plan and more like a custom “one-size-fits-one”. Build a plan to satisfy your desires, needs, ambitions, employees, and family.

Not sure if you have the right team of advisors in place to help? Contact us today!

succession planning

Business Succession Planning: What is it?

From the day you start your business, you are focused on both present and future growth. However, many people never think of life after the business or succession planning until it’s too late. How do you know it’s too late? Typically, business owners don’t start thinking about this until a major life event occurs, they are burned out and need to sell, or someone comes knocking and wants to acquire their business. According to a Wilmington Trust Survey, 60% of business owners do not have a succession plan in place.

None of the times previously mentioned are the best time to start a succession plan or think about it, as you are under stress. The best time to put together a plan is when you start your business. If you didn’t do it then, the next best time is today!

What exactly is business succession planning? It starts with answering a series of questions with yourself, your family, your executives, and your advisors. The purpose is to make sure what you have built in your business continues on, not just for legacy, but for the people, and families, that you are providing a job to. There are a lot of critical things to think about in a succession plan. It helps you decide what happens to your business if something were to happen to you.

Does it go to management? Does it pass to your estate? Will the business just fold up and close? How is all of this planned both structurally and financially?

A succession plan is an iterative process. Business owners need to pick it up once a year and re-read to say, yes this still fits where I am in my life and where my business is, or it needs changes.

If you are a business owner without a succession plan in place, contact us to schedule a no-cost consultation.

3 Design Tips For Your Exit Strategy

A successful and effective exit from a business usually takes more than a miracle. I do believe in miracles, however gaining the greatest value for your company doesn’t usually happen without a solid design and execution. As a business owner contemplating a future exit, you should be focused on a plan that includes the following 3 design tips:

1. Timing

Is the market right? Are other parties interested in acquiring your company? Do you have plans for after your exit? Do you have more passion or anxiety over the business?

Timing is everything if your objective is to maximize the value of your company. Don’t be a statistic, too many company owners run the company up the growth curve, and down the other side before relinquishing control and exiting the business. Companies frequently grow beyond the capabilities of the owner, so all these considerations will help you determine the right timing.

2. Value

Have you completed a valuation on the company? Can the value of the company be improved? Will the exit event provide the revenue, cash and stability you desire and need?

Value is the number one driver for most executives contemplating an exit. However, value is nearly impossible to change if you have one foot out the door. Value creation is difficult but will yield the greatest financial reward for each dollar invested. Reducing costs, improving processes, increasing margins, managing debt, hiring the right resources and growing the top line are all important factors in gaining the greatest value for your business. A good business advisor can help you navigate through the projects that offer the highest return on value.

3. Succession

Do your leaders have the skills, interest and passion to carry on and improve the business? Do you financially need the business to perform after your exit?

Succession is not an issue if you are emotionally and financially detached from the exit event. In this scenario, succession is the problem for the acquirer and the seller can take the money and run. However many small business owners can’t afford to detach financially and therefore must be concerned about the quality of the successors (family members or employees). Complicated exit scenarios tend to create succession challenges and as a result will have a negative impact on the value.

Exiting a business is not an event, it is a process. Albeit an emotional process, it requires a proper design to get the most out of the final exit event. Exiting your business is much easier when you understand the 3 design tips and  have a plan to answer the tough questions regarding. . . Timing, Value and Succession.  Then you can ” Exit by Design”,  and not exit by mistake or miracle.