Women in Business: How to plan for their unique differences
Working with women in business for themselves, presents a unique set of circumstances when looking at legacy planning. As a man, obviously I see things through a different lens, however I am keenly aware that the genders each have their own needs and desires when it comes to looking at the long-term picture. For example, if I were sitting down with a male business owner with a wife and children, some of his concerns may be that he wants to provide for his wife in the event of a tragedy, as well as make sure the children are able to go to college when they get older. The key element in that scenario is the husband “providing” for his family. Men are created by God to have that basic nature in them. Now when you look at that same scenario from a woman’s point of view, it would vary a bit because the emphasis would not be as much on the providing viewpoint, but instead, from a security stance. Instinctively, women want to have a sense of security to be satisfied before they feel safe and content in life. This is how God created women to be. It is just that simple when you boil away all of the other stuff that is in the mixture. Now, having said that, this gives the concept of legacy planning for women a unique twist, further intensified when you add in the existence of any children.
We have to look at all of the moving parts when coming up with a cohesive strategy for any client, and then take into account the unique ingredients present in the recipe, so that what we will end up with satisfies all of the necessary criteria. These moving parts for an entrepreneur are further unique in that not only do the personal and family elements exist, but also the elements of the business itself. I’ll briefly touch on the primary elements I look at with clients later, but first want to dig deeper into the concept of entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship is a very special and amazing thing, because of the creativity aspect involved. When a person decides to start a business, there are likely many different layers as to why it is so important to them, and what they want to accomplish. It could be that they want to provide a service or product which will help to alleviate a burden or perform a task, but there will be some deeper purpose that is to be served in the process. When you consider this deeper purpose, which we must because IT is likely one of the key reasons for having started the business in the first place. Then in the process of putting together the business plan there should have been included some consideration of “what happens if…”. In your business plan, this will fall under exit strategy – business transfer – buy-sell agreements. For ladies whom are entrepreneurs, the depth of this consideration could be quite vast because there are an enormous number of emotional connections to each aspect of the business, its vision, it’s place in society, the families that are benefited by its product or service, the families that have jobs because of the business, and the list goes on. ALL of these things should and must be considered as soon as possible, and reviewed often as the company matures. The “what ifs” involved can quite frankly be very devastating; not only to the business owner, but to all of those other families which are impacted in one way or another by the existence of the business. What you do with this notion of considering these things regularly within your business, is going to be a part of determining the legacy that you create out of that business. Few entrepreneurs start up a company with the idea that it is going to be disposable, and go away, so being that is the case, then we should also be looking at this thing with the intention of it lasting long after we have handed over control of our business to the next generation to run it – whomever that happens to be.
Here are a list of action steps that you can do with your business to ensure that due diligence has been done for your venture, and its longevity.
- Business Plan – Work with what I call the “trifecta partners”
- Attorney specialized in business law – develop the plan documentation, contracts, necessary trusts, and any other legal matters concerning your business.
- CPA – works with you to help on your tax filings, utilizing the business structure put into place by the Attorney. When properly done, this will help mitigate any possible exposure your business may have with taxes. Obviously there will be taxes due at some point, but minimizing them is the key to success!
- Financial Planning Advisor – this person will ultimately be the most indispensable person you work with, because their council will be needed in many areas of both your business as well as your family’s personal financial strategies. I am an advocate of people working with one advisor rather than many, so choose well the one that best fits your needs.
- Financing the execution of your business plan – This is unfortunately the most overlooked part of most plans, and in some way or another, becomes responsible for the closure and liquidation of approximately 40% of the businesses in this country.
- Exit strategy – how do you plan on leaving the business, and what will happen when you do? Who will be paying for which parts of the transfer? Where do the assets come from to accomplish this?
- Buy-Sell Agreements – if something unfortunate happens to you, either being too sick or injured to run the business yourself or worse – death, what will happen next with the business? Is there someone whom will take over the duties? What about your income stream continuing during this process? How is your successor/replacement/fill-in getting paid? Is this temporary or permanent? Is your spouse that person? Is one of your children that person? Do they want to be that person? Can the others in your business work with them?
- Cross-purchase Agreements – if you have a business with partners involved, then there are the ownership considerations to also look at, if and when those unforeseen events happen. The other partners would need to “buy out” your position either temporarily or permanently depending upon the event. How are they going to do that? If you are the main owner, but also have partners will lesser percent ownership, then will your family interest in the business have a game-plan that will take care of this. How is that going to be funded?
- Key persons in your business – many companies have people in them that are indispensable to the operations, and as such, there is an interest in ensuring that if something happens to that individual, then the business is able to both take care of that person as well as fill their vacancy either temporarily or permanently. If this is your situation, then you will also need to define classes of employees, since what you are doing for one, you are not doing for all.
Granted, this only touches the surface of what goes into the business planning process, but what is important to remember is to review this document and the connected strategies for funding on a regular basis. I suggest at least every 5 years, or sooner if your business is experiencing growth. This growth takes us to the next major thing that you as an entrepreneur should be doing with your business.
- Business Valuation – Having a valuation performed on your business is extremely important and necessary. As a business owner, you have to know what your business value is at all times. There are various levels of intensity to this process, and as such will alter the relevant expense and type of person required to perform the valuation. Typically, when you are reviewing your business, business plan and supporting documents, and any insurability matters, a qualified Financial Planning Advisor experienced with business planning strategies for closely held family owned businesses is going to be a plus, and will not require a full certified valuation of your business. When selling your company as would be the case of in your exit strategy, you would then want to have a certified valuation performed.
So, with all of that having been said, we want to look at how these things will be impacting not only your creative vision as a female entrepreneur, business owner, community member, advocate, wife, and mother – but also how your connection to all of those other layers fit together. To create a legacy, it is something that should from its inception, should be planned out with the intent that not only will it impact the world that we live in, but that it will continue to impact the world long after we are no longer at the wheel, driving this thing. There are going to be many other people affected by what is put into place with your strategy, and that should be tailored to fit your vision. It should also be flexible enough to move with the times, and adjust to changes in the markets and industries. But most importantly, it should be cohesive and comprehensive – addressing all of the various concerns that you may have today and eventually have later on. This is a process, which should be entered into and repeated regularly so that it is always relevant and appropriate.
At the heart of the spirit of entrepreneurship, for me at least, is the truth found in scripture concerning building a legacy. After-all, building a business IS a form of creating a legacy, and God blessed women with the ultimate unique gift of creating. Women take things and create something out of it, whether it be from food items that becomes a nice meal, taking a house and creating a home out of it, or taking a seed and creating a life from it. Women create, and as entrepreneurs, that creativity can become another legacy that lasts for a long time. In Proverbs, Chapter 13 verse 22, it says: “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.” This means that not only are we to create with the intention and planning that it will last for multiple generations, but that we should do these things righteously. You will be blessed by doing these things within your business, and from that you will be able to bless others as well.
Not adhering to the spirit of legacy planning is something that is also addressed in scripture, found in 1 Timothy 5:8, where it says “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty clear to me that we should be doing these things that I have addressed here in this article, and that we should not only encourage those within our sphere of influence to do the same, but also to help them to remain accountable to these truths.
Any good plan is one that we should review and address often. I prefer reviewing these plans annually with my clients, because that helps to avoid pitfalls which may occur during the course of the year, and allows you to make minor adjustments along the way. That is far more preferable to making major adjustments at longer intervals, and is also much less costly to your business venture in the long run.
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