• In this issue: Succession Planning

dennis-bridges-cpaDoes the phrase “succession planning” ring a bell to you?  Would you honestly say that you relegate it to the “when-I-get-around-to-it” list? 

Have you thought about your “end game”?  In the U.S., most business owners don’t seriously start thinking about the financial aspects of retirement and “what will I do with my business?” until around age 57.  This is according to similar surveys repeatedly conducted by The Wall Street Journal and Fortune Magazine. 

Lest you think I’m about to give you a tongue-lashing if you fall in that group, let me say this:

1) You are in very good company.  The percentage of business owners that fall into this group, according to the multiple surveys I referred to is consistently anywhere from 75 to 85 percent. 

2) This is getting to be less fun to say: I’ll be turning 60 myself later this year.  I totally get that “Life Happens”.  And that honestly, the best you can do sometimes is make yourself get out of bed each morning. 

For purposes of our discussion, I’m going to assume that many if not most readers and followers of 3PL News are either sole owners of a business OR you share ownership with one or more others OR you are an executive with significant equity in the business you run, either through stock ownership or “sweat equity”. 

At the end of this installment of “3PL Tax and Money Matters”, I’ll give you a couple of very simple action steps that you can follow to help you get a start towards financial independence and maybe even make up for lost time.

Our main focus for today is on succession planning and considering the options for an exit strategy to have in place.  Simply stated, the phrases “succession planning” and “exit strategy” relate to how you most prefer to eventually dispose of your business or business interest.

Typically, when we speak of disposing of something, we’re talking about tossing an unwanted item into the trashcan.  Here, we’re simply referring to the process of transferring ownership, control or leadership of your entity from yourself to one or more other parties. 

The most important thought to bear in mind regarding this process is that the exit plan or strategy needs to be based totally upon your preference and desires, and those of the people closest to you. 

The most common methods utilized for implementing the change in ownership or control are:

1) Selling the business outright to an outside party 2) Selling your interest to a co-owner or group of employees or 3) Simply transferring your ownership and/or control to one or more family members. 

Hidden Value

Some of you are going to be pleasantly surprised that your business can even be treated as a saleable asset.  And this can be the case with virtually any kind of business. 

Over ten years ago, we designed a model for determining how to value virtually any given business enterprise.  And this can apply to a plumbing business, a dental practice, a manufacturing concern or even a lawn-mowing service, which could be sold by a high-school student to a professional landscape service.  And it definitely applies to transportation and logistics.

As a CPA by profession, I’m sometimes asked to value a business, and the owner provides me with a current balance sheet and income statement.  Another very pleasant surprise is that your most valuable asset doesn’t even appear as an asset on your balance sheet.

It’s your customer list. Your relationships. 

You may own a fleet of 50 trucks or 50 freighters.  But without your customers, whether they are committed to ship with you contractually or not, then your business is worth no more than the fair market value of those “hard” assets.

Returning to our discussion of exit strategy, let’s suppose that you’ve made some decent business and/or investment decisions and you can reasonably consider yourself financially independent.

What then?

This past weekend, I had the privilege of hearing a talk by Kevin Myers, Senior Pastor of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Myers placed the pursuit of success in proper perspective.  He proposed that the “ultimate” golden ring is not financial success at any cost, but rather significance.  Together with motivational speaker John C. Maxwell, Myers has co-authored a brand new book, Home Run, based upon this thesis.  (Published by Faith Words, 2014.)  It’s actually available at Amazon.com, right here: http://www.amazon.com/Home-Run-Learn-Gods-Leadership/dp/1455577227

In the interest of full disclosure, the book is written from a Biblical perspective, but the principles are fully applicable regardless of your faith background, if any.

I told you earlier that I would give you a couple of simple action steps.  Let’s look at those:

1(a).  Let’s assume that you currently don’t have sufficient assets or income to fund your retirement.  The simplest way to start a savings program is to do it automatically through an auto-debit arrangement with your bank.

Even if your finances are lean at the moment, at least begin to save $5.00 a month…or $25.00…or $50.00 – whatever you can manage.

Then determine how you can increase your income, either by increasing your value in your current work relationships, or by adding additional customers, or increasing their purchase volume. 

1(b).  Let’s assume that you are either on track to reach your financial goals, or have already reached them. 

Then consider creating a “bucket list” for yourself.  What causes are important enough to support with your financial resources?  What would you really like to do with or for your loved ones? 

2. Warren Buffett is widely-known as the world’s wealthiest person and one of the most successful investors in history.  Yet the principles which guide his financial decisions are hardly rocket science.  You can see them here: http://latif.blogspot.com/2012/11/excellent-tips-by-warren-buffett.html

Have you considered reaching beyond financial success to significance, as I referred to earlier from the talk given by Kevin Myers? 

In financial terms and otherwise, you will leave a legacy for your family, friends and loved ones.  Is it the legacy that you want?

Dennis Bridges is a CPA and recognized leader in tax and financial issues for logistics professionals and logistics-based enterprises.  He is the author of The Truckers Tax Relief Toolkit, and co-author of Amazon best-seller, Breaking the Tax Code, 2nd Ed.

In honor of the sacrificial work effort expended by drivers and other logistics professionals, he has created the “Truckers Million Dollars Tax Cut”, a nationwide initiative to save over $1 million in income taxes for at least 2,014 truck drivers and others.  He welcomes inquiries from individual drivers and others for tax preparation. 

Dennis strives to bring the maximum value to every client relationship, whether income is measured in six figures or nine figures.  He is best known for reaching innovative solutions to tax and business problems. 

He can be reached at his office in Atlanta at 770-984-8008, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Also feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.  His office is based in Atlanta, but he consults with individual and business clients throughout the U.S. and internationally as needed.

Click here, http://unbouncepages.com/3plnews/, in order to: 1) Address a tax or financial question for consideration by Dennis Bridges or another member of his Logistics Finance Panel.  2) Get a totally FREE copy of our very own “Top 5 Tax Savings Strategies”.  3) Nominate a worthy individual (or yourself!) for our panel.  Please provide support for your nomination.

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