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What You Should Know About Successor Identification and Development

Building a business that will continue and succeed through multiple generations requires a focus on successor identification and development. There are six key attributes for evaluating your potential successors: availability, competence, character, commitment, capacity, and community.

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Management Synergy and Teamwork - It Takes a Village

Teamwork is imperative to business succession simply because you cannot do it all.

The call for teamwork extends to your business partners, supporting family members, aspiring successors, key managers, employees, vendors, suppliers, advisors, and of course you as the owner. However, teamwork is not a natural behavior in business, as those involved tend to be competitive, ambitious, aggressive, and want personal recognition. But team dynamics can be taught, supported and ultimately embedded within your company’s culture if all involved are truly dedicated to high quality, high performance and high customer satisfaction.

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Leadership and Management Continuity - Succession is Not a Solo Endeavor

Achieving business success and succession are not solo endeavors. A great deal of your business’ value is locked in the resourcefulness, commitment, enthusiasm and teamwork of your management team.

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Strategic Planning - Why It is Critical to the Succession Planning Process

Succession planning that builds business value requires clearly defined goals and a vision that provides a distinct direction for the future. The presumption of succession and strategic planning is that if you don't know where you want to go, and how you are going to get there, the probability of ending up in the right place is slim to none.

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Business Structuring and How it Can Impact Long-Term Goals

Business structuring deals with the mechanical aspect of how your business operates. The structure of your business has a direct impact upon items such as business taxation, control of business ownership, gift and estate tax on business transfers, and shareholder access to cash flow. As a business owner, it is critical that you or an experienced advisor understands the details relating to corporate structures and agreements between directors, owners, and key managers as they have a significant influence upon your business’ success and longevity.

 

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Personal Financial Planning and Succession - How Are They Related?

 Personal financial planning is fundamental to the succession planning process. This initiative involves using the fruits of your labor to build personal financial security independent of the business. Having a personal financial wealth development and management strategy will provide you with the freedom to consider all viable business exit strategies without being forced into one solely based on your personal financial needs.

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What is Owner Motivation and Perspective and How Does it Impact My Business Goals?

As a business owner, your company ultimately takes on your values and priorities, be that good or bad. Just as your outlook on life sets the tone for how happy and successful you can be, your motivation and perspective with respect to the business establishes the operating direction and performance expectations. Your view frames the values and practices of your business, which in turn impacts profitability, efficiency, enthusiasm, innovation, customer satisfaction, and the sustainability of success. 

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Case Study – No prepared successor and CEO ready to retire

Industry: Manufacturing

Location: Midwest United States

Company Overview: Second generation, family-owned company 

Succession Matrix® Issues: Leadership & Management Continuity, Management Synergy & Teamwork, Successor Preparation, Family Governance


Challenge: The owner is ready to retire, yet no successor is fully ready to take over. Two of his three children are working in the business with the inactive son uncertain about his future involvement with the company. The two active siblings and senior managers are all trying to compete for the opening CEO position.

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Case Study – Misaligned vision between Owner and Management Creating Low Business Performance

Industry: Automotive 

Location: Midwest United States 

Company Overview: Family-Owned Group of Auto Dealerships 

Succession Matrix® Issues: Business Performance, Management Synergy & Teamwork


Challenge: While the owner’s measure of success for each store was based on net return, the store managers were solely focused on gross sales. This misalignment was causing the stores to perform below the planned level of net to sales. Dealerships were also under-performing when it came to gross sales and were receiving only 60% of the manufacturer incentive opportunities.  

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Case Study - Management Synergy and Teamwork's Impact on Business Performance and Succession Goals

Industry: Automotive 

Location: Southeast United States 

Company Overview: Family-Owned Group of Auto Dealerships 

Succession Matrix® Issues: Business Performance, Management Synergy & Teamwork 


Challenge: The General Manager of one of the dealerships was making decisions solely based on what was best for him and his store which was proving to be counterproductive to the overall interest of the company. Dealership was not performing at the level it was capable of.

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We’ve Got This Great Business No One Wants. Now What Do We Do?

For some of us, this is a classic conundrum – you know, a riddle sometimes having no “good” options.  Fortunately, succession planning almost always involves one or more “good” options.  For our purposes, those options include transition of the business to the next generation; sale to employees or to an outside third party; or, liquidation.  The sooner you know which of these makes the most sense for you to follow, the better off everyone will be.

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Accountants and Business Succession Planning, What's Their Role?

As a dedicated business succession planner my most important role is team facilitator. My role is to ensure that my clients have a complete planning team that represents the necessary disciplines needed to accomplish business succession, and that the team has the appropriate vision and works together effectively. Just like operating a successful business, business succession planning requires ultimate team work.

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Accountants and Business Succession Planning – How to Get More Involved

I am fortunate to have many wonderful relationships with my clients' accountants. We take a sincere interest in the each other's welfare and they recognize the high degree of personal gratification I receive from significantly impacting their clients' succession planning. The conversation often includes them telling me, "Loyd, you are doing what I have been wanting to do." So in addition to being asked my opinion of an accountant's role in succession planning, I am also asked if an accountant can be a succession planner

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Accountants and Business Succession Planning – How to Become a Succession Planner

 Accountants who seek new challenges and opportunities can be full-time dedicated succession planners. In fact there are many progressive accounting firms that have partners dedicated to being proactive in succession planning. These specialists within the accounting firm work with existing clientele and also serve as an independent profit center as they pursue new clients outside the realm of the current client base. Minimally, succession planning specialists within an accounting firm boost partner-level revenue and score project opportunities for other specialists in their practice like business valuations, feasibility studies, and research projects which are part and parcel to succession planning.

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The Pope and the Catholic Church: A Succession Planning Case Study

 As I embark on my first article as a member of The Rawls Group, I figured I might as well throw myself into the deep end and entertain a topic that is undoubtedly surrounded by controversy: religion. The recent changes occurring in the leadership of the Catholic Church have not only fascinated me, but have also led me to ponder how such a significant change to this steadfast organization will affect the group as a whole. And I am not simply talking about those directly involved in the selection of the next leader of the Catholic Church; I’m also referring to the millions of citizens around the world that look to the Pope for guidance, purpose and support. 

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Succession Planning - Art and Passion

His ball was moving right and settled in the grass about ten feet away. As the leader of the senior tournament approached, I moved close to watch an amazingly small, relatively elderly, scrawny yet pot bellied gentleman size up his next shot, consult with his caddie and select his club. He briefly simulated his desired swing, appraised the challenge and nodded to his caddie to confirm their planned ball flight over a distant tree. Without apparent concern he addressed the ball, confidently drew back his five iron in a long, fluid swing and effortlessly launched the ball in an amazing high, left to right trajectory towards the green. "Oh my Lord, can you believe how he compresses that ball to a fade? The acceleration of that ball off of his club took my breath away. And the ball cleared the tree and landed on the green like a butterfly. I'm twenty years younger, outweigh him 75 pounds and there is no way I could ever pull of that shot!"

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Reflecting On the Future - Succession Planning and Constant Changes in Federal Tax Law

What will the future bring after the last year or so of frenetic estate and business succession planning? I don't have any better crystal ball today than I had last year when I was advising clients to play "use it or lose it" with their gift and generation skipping tax credits. However one thing is for sure, estate and gift tax rates have increased to 40%. That means more liquidity will be required to transfer business interest to the next generation. After adding the State inheritance taxes most taxable estates will be taxed at 50% or more. A 50%+ transfer tax would lead me to believe that there will be no significant let up in estate planning.

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Reflecting On the Present - Succession Planning and Constant Changes in Federal Tax Law

Here it is late January 2013, and I know I am not alone feeling both emotionally and physically tired. The holidays went by like a runaway Power Point presentation. My get-up-and-go has got-up-and-left. Clients that were calling every other day are not to be heard from. They don't want to talk to me, and for a spell the feelings are mutual. With the last minute tax deal which affirmed all the estate tax, gift tax and generation skipping tax credits and exemptions that we were afraid of losing were here to stay for the moment, there is a bit of an empty feeling. There's been some soul searching generating questions such as:

 

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Reflecting On the Past - Succession Planning and Constant Changes in Federal Tax Law

The last two years have been very exciting and challenging. As soon as the Republican leaders figured out that President Obama's definition of finding compromise and achieving consensus meant everyone acknowledging that he was the only brain in the room and agreeing with his ideas, it was assumed that that the President Bush tax cuts were going bye-bye. Consequently, the estate and gift tax rates were going back to 55% and the estate, gift and generation skipping tax credits and exemption were going back to $1MM.

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Succession Planner Adapts to Charlotte's Rules

Business succession planners are by nature "roadies." Succession planners are unique individuals with a diverse set of financial, investment, legal, accounting, coaching, mentoring and psychological skills that are offered in a way that is unique to each planner and compatible to a certain segment of clients. Due to the unique nature of the service and the clients, engagements are often at a distance. Therefore, travel is a fundamental part of the gig. Unfortunately traveling involves challenges which can be as demanding as my day job. Dealing with these challenges is eloquently summed up in the words of Crosby Stills and Nash: "We who are on the road, have a code that we must live by..."

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