You may not have any intention of selling your business today. But, what happens if you get hit by a truck, fall ill or are injured in some other way making you unable to operate your business for a fairly long period of time? Will your spouse step in? Do you have a trusted employee that can run things? Now might be a good time to give this some thought and discuss it with family and advisors.
You have spent time, effort, and money building your business. Your business is probably your and your family’s biggest asset. So, what happens to this asset if one of the unfortunate events mentioned above actually occurs? Without some strategies to deal with the unexpected, your business could be in serious trouble by the time you recover and return to work. Or worse, if you fail to survive an illness or injury, your family/heirs will be forced to create a plan of action to run the business or, at least, operate it until it can be sold. The obvious time to come up with a plan for the unexpected is before it happens.
This type of plan is different than an exit strategy. An exit strategy provides a plan that can be followed for a planned retirement or cut-back. Illness, accidents, and death are seldom planned events. They are sudden events where the owner and operator of a business becomes incapacitated and, if there is not a written plan of action the business could find itself in jeopardy.
This written plan of action should outline your wishes in the event of illness, injury or death. Is there someone who can run things until your business is sold? If you are the main cog in the company’s success and you are not able to be there, how will your customers and suppliers feel about doing business with your company? Maybe now would be a good time to get key person insurance, increasing your own life insurance to cover taxes in case of death. It may also be a good time to pick a successor – just in case. If there isn’t someone who could take over, is there someone who could at least keep things operative until the business is sold? Maybe it’s time to have your spouse or one of your children learn something about the business – again, just in case. Maybe you have an employee who could keep things running until the business is sold or until you are able to return to work.
In addition to your family and advisors, it might also pay to talk to a professional business intermediary. You may not be ready to sell, but if selling becomes a necessity in the future, a consultation with a business intermediary can provide you with a lot of valuable information about the sales process to help you plan now.