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Succession Planning Builds Value

The valuation of a business is an assumption of future productivity based upon the perception that the multiple value drivers at play within a business will continue.  An appraisal (of value) is simply an analytical assumption of the future productivity of current value drivers supported by historical performance combined with assumptions as to how those value drivers can be or will be impacted by future circumstances.  

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Skip Generation Cross Purchase Agreement

A new client consisting of two 50/50 partners expressed a desire to develop a buy-sell agreement around life insurance policies that they had been sold prior to my engagement. This was an extraordinary business reflected by the unique synergy created by the 50/50 partnership. Each partner had brought unique skills sets to their business that had been affirmed by success beyond anyone’s imagination. The values involved were tens of millions. The planning initiative also involved the updating of estate document and the initiation of strategic gifting.

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How to Use Your Business Processes to Build a Solid Reputation

A client and I were walking back to my car when she asked, “When should we start to get concerned about our business reputation?” After a few seconds of thought, I answered “Well, if you wait until you have one, it could be too late. So I suppose the best time to be concerned about your reputation is before you actually have one. Then you still have time to help shape it rather than recover from it.”

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The Value of Pre-Marital Agreements

Building a healthy, strong, and long-lasting marriage requires a lot of hard work. Good marriages don’t happen by default, they require intentionality and equality of contribution and effort by both spouses. Unfortunately, even the best of relationships endure many significant challenges. As one marriage psychologist said, “Marriage is really, really, really, really, really hard work for about the first 20 to 25 years…and then, it starts to get kind of good.” This may be an overly negative statement, but it reflects the reality that establishing the foundation of a long-lasting, healthy, and fulfilling marriage is not easy.

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Dealing with In-laws in a sibling partnership

I recently facilitated a reconciliation meeting between a brother and sister-in-law. Since the relationship between the brothers was good, I wondered how did the relationship between the brother and sister-in-law go sour? The sister-in-law was admittedly harboring bitterness toward her husband’s older brother because of her perception of how her husband was being treated in the family’s business. 

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3 Tips for In-Laws in the Family Business

The third step to navigating in-law in the family business is to avoid giving off the appearance that you are motivated by the opportunity to live on “easy street.”  If you see an opportunity to work in your spouse’s family business as just one of many options, and that the job in the family’s business is the best opportunity to fulfill the expression of your talents, strengths, capabilities, and training, then you may achieve success. If it doesn’t work out, that’s okay with you, as you will just move on to the next best option.  This will position you to make an unreserved commitment to the mission of the business and the existing leadership, which will provide for you the highest probability of success.

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In-laws - How to Avoid Becoming an Outlaw in the Family Business

Family dynamics are usually fairly intense among immediate family members. Throw in-laws into the equation and you can have potential build up of underground pressure leading to explosions of volcanic proportions.  Put this pressure in the context of a family business and the lava and ash flows can suffocate the life out of the family and business.  If you’re an in-law connected to a family business, beware, lest you become an outlaw.

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The Difference between a Family Member Employee and a Successor

A client who managed the family business alongside his two siblings recently told me his son was graduating and he wanted to develop a plan for his son to join the business. The client wanted this successor development curriculum so he could give his son the assurance that he was being fast tracked.  He stated it was very important for his son to catch up to his cousins who entered the business six years earlier, otherwise his son may not be considered as a viable successor candidate.  I responded with an explanation that a family business could have the good fortune to have more than one successor. 

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High Expectations are Confirmation of Your Family Standing

I have the unique opportunity to work with a lot of fathers who are also very successful business owners. Many of these men are regarded by their children as control freaks. I have written before about how to effectively deal with and manage these strong personalities, and it essentially all boils down to learning to set effective personal and professional boundaries and risk the relationship by challenging dad. Today, I want to offer a different perspective that entails getting into the mindset of your control freak dad. 

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How Do I Get People Focused on a Model of Excellence?

If you want people to focus, you have to give a clear picture of what you want to have happen. Business is a funny animal. Sometimes we start out building a racehorse, and we wind up with a camel that can be more stubborn than a mule. All three are useful; all have their place; and all can get you where you want to go. But the ride’s ease and comfort in getting there will be different. 

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The Perfection Fallacy and How It Holds Us Back

Winston Churchill, perhaps one of the greatest leaders of all time, continues to be a leadership muse for me.  There are a number of highly regarded people writing books and blogs about leadership, often suggesting that following their formulaic approach ultimately makes the difference between a good leader and a great leader.  Such people do us all a great disservice.  To quote Churchill:  “They say that nobody is perfect.  Then they tell you practice makes perfect.  I wish they’d make up their minds.”  

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Does the Perfect Successor Really Exist?

Many people have been told about “snipe hunts” or have experienced “wild goose chases.”   There’s a funny thing about those two expressions.  There really are wild geese; and snipes really do exist, but they are hard to find in the real world.  

Looking for the perfect succession candidate is much like the proverbial wild goose chase or the “hazing induced” snipe hunt.  In some cases, the perfect candidate just doesn’t exist, either within the family or within your traditional circle of candidates.  

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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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What You Should Know Before You Make Someone a Partner/Owner

If you haven’t been in this situation yourself, you probably have one or more friends who have.  They  have rewarded a  highly productive employee by making him/her a non-family partner (NFP) in a family owned business.   

Maybe you’re about to do the same thing yourself.  That’s big of you, really; and some people might actually appreciate the honor you’re bestowing on them. Others will probably think “It’s about time!”  And then, it gets worse.  The loyalty formerly shown to the organization seems to vanish, and the imperial partner syndrome emerges. 

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Struggling with Your Business Partner? 5 Ways to Find Common Ground

If you happen to be an active majority partner in a business, you may sometimes find yourself struggling for alignment with your minority partner or partners, especially if the minority partners are also involved in the business.   They assume because they have some percentage of ownership that they have the positional power to make unilateral decisions that move the business in a direction that suits their liking, regardless.  In short, they throw their “weight” around; and they pay little attention to the unintended consequences of doing so.

 

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50/50 Partnership Not Working Anymore - How to Resolve While Still Maintaining a Working Relationship

Partnerships are curious animals.  Two or more people start off with a great idea; decide there’s some synergistic benefits in working together; shake hands; and start off with the very best of intentions.  And then everyone lives happily ever after.  

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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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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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