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Knowing Your Role and Playing Your Position

Knowing Your Role and Playing Your Position

Football is one of my favorite sports and football season is one of my favorite times of year! It has been said that football is the ultimate team sport. Success on each play requires each player understand their role, work together, communicate effectively and ultimately execute to achieve the desired outcome. The teams that win consistently have committed players who know their role, play their position and trust their teammates will do the same each play. From my perspective, there is a striking parallel between football and family business. To successfully compete and operate a family-owned dealership or dealership group, requires each family member, manager and employee to understand their unique role, work together, communicate effectively and operate interdependent departments well. Whether you are a team member of a family business or a superstar on a football team, knowing your role and playing your position are key ingredients to success.

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You've Sold Your Business, Now What?

You've Sold Your Business, Now What?

Recently I was invited to speak to a group of successful business owners about the various aspects of succession planning (what I refer to as the Succession Matrix). The Succession Matrix consists of ten interdependent factors that business owners must successfully address to improve the odds that their business will successfully make the transition to and through the next generation of owners and managers. Addressing these factors is important regardless of whether you plan to sell your business or plan to keep it in the family. Unfortunately, many franchisees and business owners are so busy “working IN their business” that they do not invest the time to “work ON their business” to consider their exit options.

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Franchisee Succession Fumble: Don't Forget the Franchise Agreement

Franchisee Succession Fumble: Don't Forget the Franchise Agreement

Those of you who are franchisees pay close attention! Have you developed a succession plan for your business? If so, I commend you as many of your peers talk about having a succession plan, but have yet to develop formal documentation that reflects their goals and objectives. Now let me ask you another question. Does your succession plan consider requirements in your franchise agreement such as ownership transfers or successor qualifications? If not, I suggest you shake the dust off of the franchise agreement and find the specific paragraphs that relate to successor nominees, ownership transfers, death, disability etc. Many times the franchise agreement is overlooked or in some cases ignored when franchisees develop their succession plans. This could result in a violation of your franchise agreement possibly resulting in significant consequences such as the derailment of your succession plan!

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A New Frontier: Life After A Sale

A New Frontier: Life After A Sale

Many of you have dedicated a significant part of your working life pursuing the American dream through business ownership. Some of you will pursue succession through family members or key executives and others believe a sale is the best exit strategy option. Selling your business is a viable succession option enabling you to harvest the fruits of your labor and investment as well as to take some chips off of the table. A few years ago, a successful client who is a franchisee in the Midwest chose to sell his business. I had the privilege of working with this couple to help them evaluate their succession alternatives. After considering several options, they ultimately concluded the best decision for them and their family was to sell the business.

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Exit Strategy: When Should I Consider One?

Exit Strategy: When Should I Consider One?

Technically, the answer is before you even open your doors for business (why go anywhere without knowing how you are going to get back?). Now I know that is idealistic to many of you as survival is your highest priority. Let’s face it, succession planning is a subject many business owners would rather not face. However, I submit to you that the earlier you begin the process, the less stressful the transition will be for you and all parties who are touched in some way by your business (employees, community, vendors etc.).

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How to Overcome the "Perfect Family" illusion

How to Overcome the "Perfect Family" illusion

Recently while attending a church service our preacher, Dr. Bob, delivered a sermon titled, “Behind The Manicured Hedges” that struck a chord personally and also as a professional family business succession planner. The preacher was referring to Winter Park, FL a largely affluent community consisting of families who have above average means, fabulous homes and impeccable landscaping surrounding their homes. Many who drive along the brick paved, tree lined streets are impressed with the meticulous landscaping and are somewhat envious thinking that these families have no issues or no problem that money cannot fix. If only that were true! The fact is, regardless of how perfect a family looks from the outside, all families have issues.

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As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Have It All Done?: There is a Difference Between Continuity Planning and Succession Planning

As Seen in Multi-Unit Franchisee Report - Have It All Done?: There is a Difference Between Continuity Planning and Succession Planning

Over the years we have encountered hundreds of successful business owners who have made the statement "I have it all done," as they describe how well they have planned and documented their business succession plan. Unfortunately, in most cases these business owners were referring to the work they have done to implement their wills, trusts, buy/sell agreements, and life insurance, which we would constitute as business continuity planning. You may be asking yourself, what is the difference?

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Preparing your Business to Weather the Succession Storm

Preparing your Business to Weather the Succession Storm

Hurricane season is upon us and hopefully you have taken the necessary precautions in the event Mother Nature unleashes the power and fury of a hurricane on Central Florida. Forecasting the weather is not a perfect science, however; when it comes to identifying and tracking hurricanes, weather forecasters do a remarkable job. Thanks to news outlets, we have the benefit of advance warning. We are given insight into the strength and magnitude of the storm and we even have a close projection as to the hour the hurricane will pass over our area. Yet many people ignore the advance warning, neglect to prepare and develop contingency plans. Business succession planning is similar to a hurricane in that business owners know succession planning is inevitable, know they need to develop a plan, more often than not have adequate time to prepare yet often procrastinate and ignore the implications and consequences associated with not having a sound plan. The result is a business catastrophe where many are shocked, devastated and in some cases have to pick up the pieces, salvage what’s left and start all over again.

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When is the Right time to Discuss Succession Plans with Family Members?

When is the Right time to Discuss Succession Plans with Family Members?

In 1988, Jack was thrust into the leadership position of the family business his father started in the late 1950’s. At the time Jack took over the family business there was only one dealership and approximately sixty-five employees. Over the years the business had become highly productive and profitable in large part due to his father’s incredible work ethic, customer focus, business savvy and knack for attracting quality employees. Jack’s father was a humble man who attributed much of his success to luck, good fortune and being in the right place at the right time. “Timing is everything” was a phrase Jack’s father used frequently. From a business perspective, there very much could have been some truth to timing and being in the right place at the right time but for Jack, timing could not have been worse!

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Keys to Preparing Your Successor

Keys to Preparing Your Successor

Just as there are many roads that lead to Rome, there are many paths that can be taken when it comes to preparing your successor. Many Dealers believe operational experience in the front and back ends of the business and participating in learning opportunities such as Dealer Academy are all that is necessary to become a successful auto dealer. Operational rotations and successfully completing industry education are extremely valuable steps in the successor preparation process. However, this approach often results in a false sense of security for both the Dealer and the aspiring successor as other critical developmental opportunities are omitted. So, what else can you do to ensure your successor is adequately prepared to lead your business in the future? Here are some tips to help ensure your successor is equipped to take the leadership baton and successfully run with it.

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Transfer Stock: Gift or Sale

Transfer Stock: Gift or Sale

Recently a business owner approached me with the following: I am considering transferring some company stock to my son and possibly some talented managers. He stated, each person has made significant contributions to the business and a few of them feel they have already earned the right to some of the stock via sweat equity. He asked, should I gift or sell the stock to them?

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How Financial Independence Can Impact Succession Goals

How Financial Independence Can Impact Succession Goals

What is financial freedom? In the context of business succession, financial freedom means accumulating sufficient liquid resources independent of the business whereby the owner doesn’t have to rely on business profits to maintain their standard of living.  Why is attaining financial freedom so important for a business owner in a family business setting?

Developing wealth independent from the business is paramount to an effective business transition. Financial independence affords the owners freedom to transfer some managerial and leadership responsibilities to successors without fear of them burning the entire house down. In essence, you have the opportunity to see your successors in action and determine if and to what extent additional coaching and mentoring may need to take place.

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Tips for Approaching Succession Planning with Your Franchisor

Tips for Approaching Succession Planning with Your Franchisor

A few years ago I encountered a franchisee who had successfully transferred more than $2 million of business value to his children by taking advantage of available minority discounts in conjunction with depressed goodwill and depressed real estate values — a brilliant estate planning move. The only problem was that he had not received permission from his franchisor as stipulated in the franchise agreement.

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Family and Business: Have You Been a Cheater?

Family and Business: Have You Been a Cheater?

Recently a friend shared a book with me titled Choosing to Cheat, by Andy Stanley. Choosing to Cheat is a quick read, but it is very intriguing and prompted me to do a little introspection. The author begins the book by stating that everyone cheats. Now before you wonder why a succession planner is talking to you about cheating, let me explain. This is a book about what can happen when family and business collide. 

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Financial Affairs - Eliminate Surprise For Your Loved Ones

Financial Affairs - Eliminate Surprise For Your Loved Ones

A few years ago, a new client who lost his wife prematurely came to me with a large box full of papers that included several pieces of financial information including a dozen or so old life insurance policies. He had no idea if the life insurance policies were in force or not. Needless to say, investigating the contents of this large box was quite time consuming. During one of the lowest points in his life, losing his wife of thirty years, this gentleman and his children were tasked with pulling the pieces of their financial puzzle together. 

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Family Business Succession Planning Process

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Successor Development - The 360 Slam Dunk!

Successor Development - The 360 Slam Dunk!

As a sports enthusiast, when I hear the term "360 slam dunk," images of Michael Jordan soaring through the air high above the rim in a Chicago Bulls jersey flash through my mind, which I assume is the case for some of you as well. Unfortunately, this article is not about how to do a 360 dunk a la Michael Jordan but rather the benefit of utilizing a 360 Assessment as a successor preparation tool. The utilization of a 360 Assessment to help identify leadership gaps and coaching opportunities for prospective successors can be an invaluable tool.

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How to Hire the Right People

How to Hire the Right People

Regardless of what business you are in, you and your business are only as good as the people that work for you. This sentiment has been shared with me consistently over the past seventeen years regardless of where I have traveled in the United States or the type of family business I have been engaged with at any given time. Recently I attended a local Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) event in Orlando titled “2012 Smart Awards” which recognizes companies in Central Florida that have distinguished themselves culturally, creatively and through the economic impact they have made in the community. Without exception, each of the CEOs that were recognized expressed gratitude and appreciation to their employees who in large part are responsible for the daily success of the company. Having the right people on your team and in the right position can be the difference between success and failure.

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How Financial Independence Can Impact Succession and Growth Goals

How Financial Independence Can Impact Succession and Growth Goals

We live in the greatest country in the world! As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, I thought it would be an appropriate time to reflect upon how fortunate we are to be Americans. Each day when we wake up, we have the freedom to choose how we will invest our time, talents and treasure. Thanks to God and our fellow Americans who have gone before us and who have made the ultimate sacrifice to provide us this luxury, we have the ability to make choices each day.  Some of us choose to invest our time, talent and treasures pursuing the American Dream by working for others while some of us choose to build businesses to provide opportunities for others and in an effort to achieve financial freedom and independence. Achieving financial freedom and independence is a challenging endeavor that requires focus, commitment and discipline.

What is financial freedom? Financial freedom implies that one has enough income to maintain their standard of living and therefore has the ability to pursue other interests outside of employment.  Financial freedom in the context of business succession means accumulating enough liquid resources independent of the business whereby you are not financially dependent upon the business to maintain your standard of living.  As a business owner in a family business setting, why is attaining financial freedom so important?

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Family and Business - Have You Been A Cheater?

Family and Business - Have You Been A Cheater?

Recently a friend shared a book with me titled Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley. Choosing to Cheat is a quick read, but it is very intriguing and prompted me to do a little introspection. The author begins the book by stating that everyone cheats. Now before you wonder why a succession planner is talking to you about cheating, please let me explain. This is a book about what can happen when family and business collide.

Cheating in the context of this book refers to giving up one thing in favor of another. Each day we make choices with regard to how we spend our time at home with family and in business. When we choose to spend the majority of our time at work or building a business, many times family suffers. Several of my clients and countless prospects over the years have channeled a tremendous amount of time, energy and money pursuing business endeavors which has resulted in not only business success and amassing impressive personal wealth but also failed marriages and fractured relationships with their children. An overwhelming majority that have achieved what they define as the pinnacle of their business career want nothing more than to turn back time and recapture what they no longer have: a successful marriage or a meaningful relationship with their children.  

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