Small Business Owners and Estate Planning

Estate planning is one of those subjects that no one wants to talk about. A very important topic, we seem bent on leaving for later or working on when we get older. Some feel that estate planning is only for the very wealthy. Not true!

Estate planning is defined as the creation, conservation, and utilization of family resources to obtain the maximum support and security for the family during the lifetime and after the death of the planner. (Adams, 2005, p. 15). By definition, it seems to me, that estate planning should be just as important to those with less resources with an eye toward preservation as those with ample funds wishing to reduce taxation of their accumulated wealth for future generations.

Statistics show that approximately 51% of Americans between 55 and 64 years old don’t have a will. Estate planning for those under the age of 35 is virtually nonexistent. One survey found that 32% of respondents would rather get a root canal than plan for their estate.

Estate planning for business owners is not any more important than estate planning for employees, but does entail different concerns. Whether a business owner is a sole proprietorship, the head of a family enterprise, or part owner of an enterprise, estate planning is key to continued financial security to a family when the need arises.

Death of a loved one can be very devastating. When that someone is also the business owner, many problems can come with that lose. Possible solutions include continuation of the business, sale at death, or sale/gift of all or part of the business interest during life.

References

Adams, K. (2005). The Complete estate planning guide. New York: New American Library.

Being in Balance by Delegating Duties

Being in Balance by Delegating Duties

We often get caught up in building and growing our businesses. It is essential to success that we create balance along the way. A key principle created to reduce stress and guilt has been touted as the magnificent work/life balance.

According to Dr. Wayne Dyer, stress doesn’t really exist. He expressed in his book, Being in Balance, “the key to balancing your desire to be at peace with your need to achieve, perform, and earn a living is in recognizing that there’s no such thing as stress; there are only people thinking stressful thoughts…” (p. 21).

In his book, Dr. Dyer goes on to say that stress is inside. It does not exist in physical form, yet millions of people suffer from stress-related illness every day. Now, the first thing I have to say, is why didn’t I stumble upon Dr. Dyer’s book in law school. It would have been nice to discover that stress didn’t exist while dealing with 100 page nightly reading assignments, case briefing, and class prep.

As a business owner, you are not only the founder or the decision maker, but also the marketing director, janitor, and bookkeeper in many cases. It is important for small business owners to revisit work/life balance several times throughout the year to avoid burning out or getting overwhelmed with all the plates one is twirling.

 

Below is a list of tips I put together over my years as a business owner as a way to make sure I am balancing the demands of work and home. No matter what kind of business you are in, manufacturing, product-oriented, or service business, the basic principle of work/life balance is essential to continued growth and success.

I usually revisit this list of steps quarterly, or every six months on my calendar to make sure I am still on track and optimizing my potential.

The steps I use are as follows:

  1. Write down simple actions you find yourself doing daily or weekly that seem to be taking up your time. For example, volunteer situations that have come up, cooking, 3 lunch dates per week.
  2. Categorize things that are optional, others can do, and you must do.
  3. Brainstorm on other ways to accomplish the same thing with less work or accomplish more of it in less time. For example, turn 3 lunch dates per week with one person to – lunch with 4 friends, networking, and a seminar. This way you use the same amount of time, 3 lunches, and get to connect with fifteen or twenty people per week.
  4. Streamline your processes for activities you must do. For example, if you feel the need to do all the cooking, streamline the process with weekend prep sessions, or crockpot dinners during the week.
  5. Determine which of the optional things you are doing are really helping you. Possible solutions are to make sure your optional activities are in line with your overall goals. For example, if coaching your son’s soccer team is necessary, maybe this is a great way to connect with potential customers, or sponsoring the team will help with your advertising in your community.
  6. Delegate as many tasks as possible that others can do. If you’re spending 1 day a week on bookkeeping tasks, it may be time to get a part-time office assistant. Essentially, if your efforts would be better off doing more money making tasks, you can pay someone to do your other tasks.
  7. Finally, look through the tasks you think or feel can only be done by you. If needed, map out the process or procedure and teach another to do the task the way you want it done.

Ideally your end result will be to delegate more tasks to others opening your plate for more effective use of your time.

You may want to add or delete steps, but I have come to use these steps in both my work and home tasks.IMG_0268

References

Dyer, W. W. (2006). Being In balance: 9 Principles for creating Habits to match your desires. Hays House, Inc.: Carlsbad, CA).

10 Super-Small Businesses With Moms-to-be

If you are looking for a business to share your child-rearing experiences or want to help expectant mothers, check out this list of 10 super-simple businesses where you spend your time with mothers-to-be.

  1. Child Care Referral Service

  2. Meal Preparation Service

  3. Lactation Consultant

  4. Childbirth Instructors

  5. Nutrition Consultant

  6. Midwife

  7. Parenting Specialist                                          IMG_02781

  8. Food Delivery Service

  9. Messenger Service

  10. Day Care Provider/Nanny

Favorite Quote: Every Business is a Family Business

One of my favorite quotes from the book E-Myth by Michael Gerber is: Every Business is a Family Business. Whether a business officially employs individuals from the family or not, the business is a family business. At some point the family members, even the individuals outside the business or not directly influencing day-to-day operations, may depend on the family as a financial resource.

When disputes arise in family businesses things can get complicated. Personal opinions can cloud business decisions and business elements can impact personal feelings and emotions. Solving legal issues in a family business without going to court can save time and money as well as family relationships.

 

A great source for information about mediation can be found on http://www.mediate.com.
Check out a link to an article about family business mediation:
Family Business Mediation: Solving Legal Issues Without Going to Court by Stephen McDonough. January 2017.
http://www.mediate.com/articles/McDonoughS1.cfm.

 

 

Negotiation: Getting To Yes

One of the best books I’ve read on the subject of negotiation is Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury. They have gone on to write additional books and coordinated lectures on the topic, but for a quick read ( I think 150 pages or so) this book is the go to for negotiation.

Negotiation is not just for the business setting. We are constantly negotiating with our coworkers, spouse, and children. Getting To Yes offers a variety of interesting tactics for optimizing your negotiation skills.
Image result for getting to yes book

Please note: This is not a paid advertisement. The book is a Bestseller, quick read, and highly educational!

Why should I use Divorce Mediation?

I look at mediation as a great opportunity for parents! Litigation can result in unhappy parents with an agreement one or both cannot live up to. For individuals with time constraints, changing schedules (I think this describes most people!), and other people in their lives, mediation offers divorcing spouses the opportunity to customize the plans for their future.

When individuals visualize mediation as a customized agreement as opposed to a cookie-cutter mandate imposed by a third party (the judge), parties start to appreciate the importance of the opportunity being given to them.

Mediation allows the parties to maintain control over their future as well as how they will parent their child or children in the future.

Mediation is also more cost-effective than adversarial litigation. If parents can work together and reach an agreement, the time and money spent on the divorce process is significantly lower.

Mediation can result in less stress and reduce future conflict. Parents that reach a settlement together are more likely to work together later when changes are needed.