Succession Planning for Business Owners

Succession Planning for Business Owners

Business owners deal with a unique set of challenges. One of these challenges includes succession planning. A succession plan is the process of the transfer of ownership, management and interest of a business. When should a business owner have a succession plan? A succession plan is required through the survival, growth and maturity stage of a business. All business owners, partners and shareholders should have a plan in place during these business stages.

We created this infographic checklist to be used as a guideline highlighting main points to be addressed when starting to succession plan.

Needs:

  • Determine your objectives- what do you want? For you, your family and your business. (Business’ financial needs)

  • What are your shares of the business worth? (Business value)

  • What are your personal financial needs- ongoing income needs, need for capital (ex. pay off debts, capital gains, equitable estate etc.)

There are 2 sets of events that can trigger a succession plan: controllable and uncontrollable.

Controllable events

Sale: Who do you sell the business to?

  • Family member

  • Manager/Employees

  • Outside Party

  • There are advantages and disadvantages for each- it’s important to examine all channels.

Retirement: When do you want to retire?

  • What are the financial and psychological needs of the business owner?

  • Is there enough? Is there a need for capital to provide for retirement income, redeem or freeze shares?

  • Does this fit into personal/retirement plan? Check tax, timing, corporate structures, finances and family dynamics. (if applicable)

Uncontrollable Events

Divorce: A disgruntled spouse can obtain a significant interest in the business.

  • What portion of business shares are held by the spouse?

  • Will the divorced spouse consider selling their shares?

  • What if the divorced spouse continues to hold interest in the business without understanding or contributing to the business?

  • If you have other partners/shareholders- would they consider working with your divorced spouse?

Illness/Disability: If you were disabled or critically ill, would your business survive?

  • Determine your ongoing income needs for you, your spouse and family. Is there enough? If there is a shortfall, is there an insurance or savings program in place to make up for the shortfall amount?

  • Will the ownership interest be retained, liquidated or sold?

  • How will the business be affected? Does the business need capital to continue operating or hire a consultant or executive? Will debts be recalled? Does the business have a savings or insurance program in place to address this?

Death: In the case of your premature death, what would happen to your business?

  • Determine your ongoing income needs for your dependents. Is there enough? If there is a shortfall, is there an insurance or savings program in place to make up for the shortfall amount?

  • Will the ownership interest be retained, liquidated or sold by your estate? Does your will address this? Is your will consistent with your wishes? What about taxes?

  • How will the business be affected? Does the business need capital to continue operating or hire a consultant or executive? Will debts be recalled? How will this affect your employees? Does the business have a savings or insurance program in place to address this?

Execution: It’s good to go through this with but you need to get a succession plan done.  Besides having a succession plan, make sure you have an estate plan and buy-sell/shareholders’ agreement.

Because a succession plan is complex, we suggest that a business owner has a professional team to help. The team should include:

  • Financial Planner/Advisor (CFP)

  • Succession Planning Specialist

  • Insurance Specialist

  • Lawyer

  • Accountant/Tax Specialist

  • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)

Next steps…

  • Contact us about helping you get your succession planning in order so you can gain peace of mind that your business is taken care of.

Easy Exit: Business Succession in a Nutshell

Getting into the world of business is a meticulous task, but so is getting out of it Whether you’ve just hit the ground running on your business or if you’ve been at it for a long time, there is no better time to plan your exit strategy than now. Although the process may seem taxing, we’ve answered a few questions you may have about planning your business succession strategy. 

1. Who do I talk to about this? 

Deciding on how to go about the transition requires careful planning, and you need to consult no less than people who are well equipped to help you out. First, talk to your key advisors such as bankers and financial partners. You could also use some advice from your accountant and lawyers. If your company has an advisory board, better consult them as well. You may also hire a specialist or a consultant, depending on how you choose to go about your business succession plan. 

2. Who should I choose as a successor? 

There are several ways to go about this, and your decision will ultimately be your personal choice. You may pass on your business to a family member or to your top executives or managers. You may also choose to sell it to an outsider. Whichever path you choose, you can also decide on how much you want to be involved in the business after you pass it on. That is, if you want to be involved at all. 

3. When should I inform my successor about my plans? 

While a surprise inheritance may be heartwarming, it’s not the same with inheriting a business. Getting a successor ready—whether it’s a family member or someone from your company—requires careful planning and training. As soon as you’ve chosen a successor, better get started on getting them ready for the big shoes they’re about to fill. This includes helping them equip themselves with the necessary skills, knowledge and qualifications necessary to run your business. 

4. How do I plan the transition itself? 

The transition will be twofold—transferring ownership and handing over the business itself. As far as transferring ownership is concerned, you need to consider legal and financial details. These include valuation, financing and taxation. You also need to consider if you wish to keep your current legal structure (corporation, sole prop, partnership, etc.) or if you (or your successor) would like to change it. You also need to plan how to prepare various stakeholders in the business for the transition. How will you prepare your customers, clients, and employees? What would be their level of involvement? Make sure that you put different strategies in place in order to ensure transparency and consistency in communicating changes in your business, especially something as drastic as succession. 

5. Now that I have a business succession plan ready, can I go back to business as usual? 

Not really. Your business and your customers’ needs may change over time. This means that you need to keep reviewing and adjusting your plan as your business also evolves. 

10 Essential Decisions for Business Owners

10 Essential Decisions for Business Owners

Business owners can be busy… they’re busy running a successful business, wearing lots of hats and making a ton of decisions. We’ve put together a list of 10 essential decisions for every business owner to consider.

10 essential decisions for a business owner from considering corporate structure to retirement and succession planning. 

The essential questions include:

  • Best structure for your business (ex. Sole Proprietor, Corporation, Partnership)

  • Reduce taxes

  • What to do with surplus cash

  • Build employee loyalty

  • Reduce risk

  • Deal with the unexpected

  • Retire from your business

  • Sell your business

  • Keep your business in the family

  • What to do when you’re retired

As a financial advisor, we are uniquely positioned to help business owners, talk to us about your situation and we can provide the guidance you need.