Planning for a successful business future has many potential starting points. Some owners want to start by building business value. Others want to begin by establishing an estate plan. While there are plenty of places for owners to start their planning, many business owners want to start their planning by addressing business continuity.
Whether owners intend to exit their businesses during their lifetime or die at their desks, business continuity planning is important. For owners eyeing a lifetime exit, business continuity planning protects the business from the unexpected; prepares the business, employees, and the owner’s family for the owner’s eventual exit; and keeps everyone up to date on what the owner intends to do regarding the business’ future and beyond. For owners who want to die at their desks, business continuity planning prepares the business, employees, and people the owner cares about for life after the owner’s death.
Advisors are key to successful business continuity planning. There are many aspects that owners must consider as they begin business continuity planning, too many for one person to tackle alone. There’s one surefire way advisors can help owners start their planning the way they want.
Create business continuity instructions
In a perfect world, continuity planning goes exactly as planned: Ownership transfers to precisely the right person at precisely the planned time. In the real world, wrinkles in even the best plans can throw everyone for a loop. Unexpected events such as death, permanent incapacitation, divorce, and owner infighting can leave owners, their families, and their businesses without direction. Advisors can mitigate these common yet unexpected events for owners by installing a set of business continuity instructions.
Business continuity instructions are a non-binding guide for an owner’s family members and advisors that explain how everyone should address personal and business issues that arise from the owner’s unplanned departure. Most owners overlook what will happen to their families if they were to ever lose control of the business. For example, what would their families do to address any outstanding business debts? Is there a plan to sell or dissolve the business so that the owner’s family can access liquid funds? Whom could they consult to fix problems that are likely well out of their wheelhouse? BEI’s Business Continuity Instructions tool, through BEI’s EPIC software, helps advisors get accurate answers to these questions for owners.
Business continuity instructions anticipate these problems and deliver written solutions and suggestions. They guide family members and advisors through what might otherwise be a directionless time: when they can’t ask the owner—who’s been running the show the whole time—what to do next. Business continuity instructions include aspects like first contacts and actions to take following the owner’s unexpected departure, use of proceeds schedules, and management responsibilities.
Regardless of whether owners intend to exit their businesses during their lifetimes or die working, business continuity instructions are a critical document. They speak to various desires owners often have, such as protecting their families and legacies. They also give owners peace of mind that even if something goes terribly wrong, they have a safety net for their families, businesses, and advisors to address outstanding issues. Of all the tools BEI provides to advisors, few are as universally applicable as the Business Continuity Instructions tool, which provides a comprehensive framework of things for owners to consider and actions to take.
- Many business owners want to begin planning for a successful future by addressing business continuity issues.
- Advisors can work with owners to create business continuity instructions that guide the owner’s family and other advisors in how to manage the business without them.
- BEI provides a comprehensive Business Continuity Instructions program that guides advisors through creating a strong business continuity plan for business owners.