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BUSINESS CONTINUATION PLANNING – AN EARLY START MAY HELP YOU SUCCEED


BUSINESS CONTINUATION PLANNING –
AN EARLY START
MAY HELP YOU SUCCEED

Brandon Miller is a Financial Advisor with American Express Financial Advisors based in San Francisco, California and can be reached at brandon.j.miller@aexp.com    One of his specialties is comprehensive financial planning for gay and lesbian individuals and couples.

Brandon Miller has a website that can be found at http://gayfinancialadvisors.com/California.htm

Owners of small businesses are often so busy that they rarely think about how or when they should exit their venture — or how their operation would fare without them.

But the idea of you no longer being able, willing or present to lead your business is worth contemplating. Planning ahead can help you achieve many objectives — including increasing your eventual “cash out,” passing the business to your heirs, going public and selling stock, or just making sure the operation is liquidated in an orderly manner.

A variety of exit options - The specific business continuation strategy you choose depends on your objectives and the interests of your family, partners (and their heirs) and employees. Your strategy may include:

            Liquidation upon your departure - This may be a simple, attractive option for consultants, professionals or businesses in which the owner’s knowledge, skills or experience are the operation’s core asset. With liquidation, though, you lose the ongoing source of income, and some assets might sell for a fraction of their value as part of an active business.

            Passing it on to family members – Although a common goal of many smaller business owners, family succession can be complicated and requires careful planning. First you should assess your heirs’ interest and knowledge of the business and begin a thorough training process. Next, also should consider the interests of heirs not involved in the business and those of key employees. Finally, you can either transfer the business to your heirs as a gift (in this case you won’t realize liquidity, and you will need a detailed estate plan) or sell it, with your heirs borrowing the funds or paying you in installments.

            Sell to partners or employees - If this is your goal, advanced planning is the key to a successful outcome. Whether such a sale occurs due to your retirement, death or disability, a detailed buy-sell agreement is essential to spell out:

·        who will buy and assume control of the business

·        what the price will be or how the business will be valued

·        how the purchase is to be funded (usually either through life insurance, funds amassed earlier for this purpose, a loan or installment payments to you or your heir)

·        who will receive the proceeds of the sale

·        how surviving partners and heirs are to divide business control and assets

            Sell to an outside party - If no heirs, partners or employees want to take over your business, you may determine it’s best to sell to an outside party. Potential buyers may include competitors, other business owners who want to add to their existing enterprise or people who simply want to purchase an existing business.

            A reputable business broker can help you plan your eventual sale and also recommend ways to make your business appealing to potential buyers. For example, you may want to implement a clear management succession plan and ensure that financial statements show strong cash flow and earnings growth.

            A qualified financial advisor and your accountant can assist in valuing your business for sale. You’ll need to take into account such factors as:

·        assets and liabilities

·        customer base and strength of relationships

·        earnings history

·        competitive position

·        owner and employee wages, benefits and related costs

            Go public and offer stock - Another way to sell your business is to go public and sell stock in the company. This option may let you realize liquidity while retaining some involvement. Keep in mind, however, that once your business is publicly owned, you are accountable first to shareholders and legally must keep their interest at the forefront rather than your own.

            As with other exit options, preparing to eventually go public takes long-term planning. Financial analysts and investors will scrutinize your business, so you should focus on building a strong track record.

            A part of your personal economy - Your business is an integral component of your personal economy, so your continuation strategy should mesh with your overall financial plan. A qualified financial advisor can help you blend these two worlds together, helping you achieve your professional and personal financial goals.

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This information is provided for informational purposes only. The information is intended to be generic in nature and should not be applied or relied upon in any particular situation without the advice of your tax, legal and/or your financial advisor. The views expressed may not be suitable for every situation.

American Express Financial Advisors Inc. Member NASD. American Express Company is separate from American Express Financial Advisors Inc. and is not a broker-dealer.

Brandon Miller has a website that can be found at http://gayfinancialadvisors.com/California.htm