The majority of people who start up a business want to define an exit strategy. No-one intends to work until the final days before they die. Even if they want to go for something long-lasting to pass on to their children, there has to come a time when they retire, put up their feet and enjoy a few years of peace. Most surveys find around two-thirds of all business owners hope to retire within the next ten years.
To make this practical requires a mixture of financial planning and retirement saving. With the economy in serious trouble, a hands-on approach is best, monitoring how the business is performing and whether current financial arrangements need to be changed. The problem is to get an overview. In one room, you have the accountants looking at the way the business is performing. In another, you have the financial advisors looking at the personal investment situation, and then there are the insurance brokers, agents and companies. If none of them work together, the advice is incoherent and the planning will not meet its goals.
So what does the business owner need to get peace of mind? The first step is to ensure the personal assets are protected. If the business is not incorporated, there will have to be personal liability insurance protection in place. That way, if something does go wrong, it will not affect the family. Some restructuring may also be necessary, moving any investments and assets from the business to a holding company and making sure that any loans made by family members get paid before the general creditors. If the worst happens and either the business fails or the owner is injured or falls ill, this will mean unemployment. Again, some provision against this possibility is desirable. Looking at the looming recession, keeping the cash flowing is best. That means keeping the tax liability to a minimum and paying by instalments. This allows you to keep payments flowing into retirement savings plans, which gives you a write-off. Looking at everyone in the family and their needs finishes the picture. Outside the business which will always be risky, all the other investments should be safe and conservative, making sure the succession planning is in place to pass the management responsibilities over when retirement is possible.
Making all this real depends on a range of different business insurance. Because the business is the family’s biggest asset, it should be fully protected. The lives of the owners need to be protected by term insurance for succession purposes, and everything that can be done to make the business successful should be done. Survival through the recession is not enough. If owners do want to retire in ten years time, the business must be ready to pass on to the family or sell on the open market. In all this, remember the planning should be fully co-ordinated, taking everyone’s interests into account. Keeping the business insurance valuations up to date is essential to ensure agreed payments are made quickly should a claim be made. With all this in place, retirement is only a few years away.