Most small business owners are too busy to give much thought as to how they will exit their business. If there are co-owners and the company has competent advisors, there is generally a buy/sell agreement that was drafted when the business was formed
There may even be life insurance in place to fund the buy/sell in the event of the death of one of the owners. Good business practices dictate an “annual checkup” on various business matters like corporate minutes, shareholder meetings, planning sessions and other corporate matters. As a practical matter, this rarely happens in closely held businesses.
When engaged to assist with succession planning we first develop an understanding of the issues and problems review the various corporate documents. We then begin to develop an action plan and assign responsibilities for follow up involving the company’s attorney, CPA, life insurance agent, investment advisor and other consultants. There may need to be a valuation of the business, which we can do if necessary. We play quarterback and make sure that the follow up happens, presenting the owners with alternatives and urging them to make decisions about these matters.
This type of planning is dynamic- not something that is done once and put on the shelf. We follow up with annual reminders that the plan should be reviewed and perhaps revised for changes in circumstances like a retirement, an illness, a son or daughter entering the business or a divorce.
Succession planning services are charged either on a fixed fee basis or hourly basis depending on the scope of the engagement.
It is never too early to plan for succession.
O’Dell Valuation Consulting LLC’s succession planning services begin with a meeting to gain an understanding of the business, its goals and the aspirations of its owners.
Among the questions we pose are the following:
- “Who will take over the business if something happens to an owner?”
- “What are the family obligations of the owners?”
- “Is there a buy/sell and if so what does it require?”
- “Is there corporate life insurance and what and who are covered?”