For business owners who are thinking about exiting their business in the future, there are many things to consider to assure the business transition happens in a smooth manner and accomplishes your personal and professional / corporate goals. Owners are wise to seek the counsel of advisors in this complex and delicate area. Your choice of experienced advice in this area can mean the difference between success and failure to reach your goals. Not only do you need to know which types of advisors to choose but also when to bring them onto your team. This newsletter provides the top three things to consider when building your exit planning advisory team.
This newsletter is written for business owners who may be thinking about planning the exit from their privately-held business but have not yet gotten started with the process. Business owners today are just starting to recognize that there is a unique service to help them with the exit planning process. We offer this information in an effort to help you, the business owner, continue to think positively in the direction of protecting your largest asset by doing this form of planning.
Many owners of privately-held businesses are not pro-active in planning for their exit and the company’s transition. This is true mostly because the ‘exit planning industry’ is nascent and many owners are simply not aware that a service exists to help owners with this complex issue. This newsletter is written to advocate the position that owners should be pro-active and should actively lead their exit plans by involving those that help them manage the business. An owner’s successful exit is an entry point for another owner to take the company to the next level, creating potential opportunities for the leaders in your organization. However, without leading the process, it is not something that you can rely on without proper planning. You might get lucky, but luck is rarely a solid strategy.
In any competitive endeavor there are two prevailing mindsets – there are those who are playing to win the ‘game’ and there are those who are playing not to lose. Business owners are playing the game of business. Each player in this game has quite a bit at stake because statistics reveal that the majority of most business owner’s wealth is tied to their illiquid businesses. Moreover these business owners are heavily reliant upon the income from their businesses for their lifestyle and livelihood. With so much at stake, owners need to ask themselves whether they are playing this game of business to win or not to lose – the answer can have a major impact on how successful you will be with a transition or exit from your business.
The success of exiting a business depends greatly upon the mental perspective and preparation of an owner during the exit process. Business owners tend to fixate their thoughts only on running and growing their business. However, there is a tremendous amount of value in seeing the ‘big picture’ with your exit and thinking about the future and where you would like both the company, and yourself personally, to end up. The owner who is able to see the larger picture, and understands that stepping out of a business is an opportunity to move both themselves and their company toward a new stage of life, will be best prepared to execute a successful business transition. This newsletter is written to help owners think through the ‘big picture’ and align their thinking and resources towards a successful exit.
Most owners of privately-held businesses have the majority of their wealth trapped in their illiquid business. What this means is that without a path to turn the value in your business into cash, your overall wealth will continue to stay concentrated in your ownership of your business. So the fact that your business provides for a solid income and lifestyle is separate and distinct from considering how and when you will be able to turn that illiquid wealth into cash. This newsletter is written to help owners see that a business exit plan can be a vital first step towards diversifying your overall portfolio while also protecting the wealth that resides in your illiquid, privately-held business.
When business owners think about transitioning out of their companies, some of the first thoughts that come to mind relate to the sale of their business. In fact, many business owners believe that in order to exit their business they need to sell it to someone else. As a result, the term ‘exit planning’ is often misunderstood and interpreted by owners as a ‘sale’ of their company.
Across America today there are millions of baby boomer business owners who are thinking about how they will transition the ownership of their business to someone else as they reap the rewards of a lifetime of business success. However, because most of these owners have no experience with selling a business, they do not truly know what to expect in the process. And for a transaction of this complexity and size, it is likely that what owners do not know will materially hurt them in the process of transitioning their companies.
A majority of private businesses are highly dependent upon an owner’s individual efforts in order to run efficiently. However, many owners want to be more independent of their businesses. Most owners also understand that if they are a critical part of each major part of their business, then it is going to be very difficult to grow the business and / or to have the business transition to a new owner. And, as a result of not having a transferable business, owners stand to lose much of the value that they have created in their companies. This newsletter is designed to help owners understand why they should measure and manage / score the dependence that their company has on their individual efforts.
Business owners who are thinking about the future of their companies will often ask the question “who will own my business after me?” On the path to answering this question, these owners need to consider another very important question, namely – “Is My Company Transferable to another owner?”
While most business owners focus on the annual profit or cash flow of their business, it is less common devote time and attention to an equally important measurement, your business’ return on investment. An ROI measurement can help an owner determine whether their business is not only providing them with a solid lifestyle, but also whether or not they are keeping pace with the competition and making the most of their ‘risk adjusted’ returns for all of their wealth. Do you know if the risk-adjusted return on your business is high or low? Do you know if you are getting the return that the market would require for the risks that you take in your business? These are important questions because if you want to exit your business someday, a prospective buyer will base his or her buying decision on their expected ROI from the purchase of your business.
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Business owners who plan to cash in on their privately-held businesses know that they will pay a substantial amount of taxes for their transaction. In fact, the recently passed American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (or ATRA) included a number of tax increases that impact owners who are ‘cashing in’. Beyond the ATRA changes, there is also the issue of the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as “Obamacare”) which imposes an additional tax of 3.8% on ‘net investment income’. Now, even though the sale of a business is likely to be characterized as ‘investment income’, it may be the case that the 3.8% tax does not apply to your exit transaction if you, the owner, are an active participant in the business being sold. This newsletter discusses these rules and how your exit transaction may or may not be subject to this additional tax.
When planning an exit from your business, it is important to know how much of what you ‘get’ for cashing in your business you will actually keep. Equally important for many owners is knowing how that wealth will transfer to their heirs and future generations whose lives will be impacted by your business success. How well you plan for all of this will have both short-term and long-term impacts on your business. And, because taxes play such a critical role in all of these assessments, it is important to understand how the recent compromised agreement in Washington, D.C. – titled the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (or ATRA) – may impact your business exit. Therefore, this newsletter covers the salient points of the new legislation that will likely impact your exit transaction and your future financial legacy.
The goal of this Exit Strategies Newsletter is to help business owners understand the costs and benefits available in either a Stock or Asset sale of their business. As with all aspects of the exit planning process, careful evaluation of the impacts your sale will have on tax exposure is crucial to a successful exit, and towards generating enough passive income from the sale to meet your needs.