Aside from you, your business partners, and your family, there are other key people who play critical roles in the business planning process. The reality is you need a team of advisors, which may include your attorney, accountant, financial professional, property and casualty agent, and banker, to effectively manage and protect your business interests.
“One of the things that I’ve seen that causes some real problems is an advisor who thinks they can do everything — they can’t,” said Paul L. Sessions, director of the Center for Family Business at the University of New Haven. “A business is a complex system that needs different kinds of advice.”
When choosing a financial professional, work with someone who is not only competent, but also inspires your trust and confidence. The best professionals are good listeners who seek to fully understand your business, circumstances, and financial objectives before ever proposing possible solutions. They should have access to products from multiple, highly-rated companies, clearly explain how they get paid for their services, and provide references upon request.
Lastly, make sure your financial professional has a solid support network behind them. Those affiliated with a strong, reputable firm will likely have access to better resources to support your specific needs as a business owner.
Coordination for the team
The issue that often arises is that these advisors work independent of each other and rarely coordinate efforts on your behalf. That’s why it is important to appoint a “quarterback” for your advisory team. One who will bring the best thinking of your advisors together and help ensure they are all working in concert with the best interest of your business, family, and employees in mind.
“You need a good team and you need your team talking to each other,” said Sessions. “What I’ve seen happen in some cases is an owner who has an attorney, an accountant, a financial professional, and a banker, but they are not talking to each other so nobody knows what’s going on. Then, somebody dies and it’s chaos because they haven’t pulled it all together and made some sense out of it.”
Another trait that members of your advisory team should have is specialized training and credentials to work with family-owned and closely-held businesses.
“Because of the emotional and financial complexity of succession planning, it absolutely requires the help of an experienced professional with specialized training,” said Donald Cooper, a management speaker and business coach. “If the enterprise is a family business, the complexity and emotion will likely be even greater and sorting through all of that on your own, without expert help, simply makes no sense.”
Some examples of specialized credentials include specialists in business valuation who hold status as an ASA (Accredited Senior Appraiser) or a CVA® (Certified Valuation Analyst), and specialists in exit and succession planning who hold status as a CEPA (Certified Exit Planning Advisor) or a CBEC (Certified Business Exit Consultant).
Many business owners say the reason they haven’t planned or put documents in place is because they don’t know where to turn for help. But there are many resources available with training in helping business owners protect what matters most.
But before you embark on the business planning process, you should clarify what you want to accomplish as a business owner — both in your business and your personal financial situation. Sometimes it helps to think about what motivated you to become a business owner in the first place. Then, look to partner with advisors and financial professionals who share that same passion and vision.
“Business planning is a minefield of process and emotion,” said Cooper. “Doing it alone makes no sense when expert help is available.”
To begin the process of finding a financial professional in your community who can help you create a financial road map for the long-term success of your business, contact us.
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