The Entrepreneur’s Corner

Solidifying the long-term future of your business
Here’s an important question for busy business owners – what’s next for your company? Not just tomorrow or even in the months ahead, but when the time comes that you or one of your key employees retires or leaves the organization unexpectedly?

At a time when many baby boomers are thinking about retirement, those who own a business need to plan not just for their life after work, but for the future of the firm they’ve committed so much of their lives to. In a small- or mid-sized business, the owner and perhaps other key personnel play such a vital role that special planning is required to prepare for circumstances in which any of these individuals is no longer part of the organization. If your business doesn’t have a succession plan in place, it is an issue that needs prompt attention.

There are a number of questions to consider in helping prepare for the period of transition a company inevitably faces. They include:

• Who is in line to follow the principals of the firm? The most fundamental aspect of a succession plan is to have a replacement (or replacements) in line. In many cases, a family business will move from one generation to the next. In other situations, a trusted employee or group of employees may need to be groomed and prepared to assume control of the company in the future.

• How will control of the business be transferred? Once successors are identified, there are a variety of ways that control of the business can be transferred to them. Among the options are an outright sale to the new owner – either in a one-time transaction or an installment sale – or the use of a trust vehicle, such as a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) or a grantor retained unitrust (GRUT). Those are irrevocable trusts to which you transfer appreciating assets while retaining an income payment for a set period of time. At either the end of the payment period or your death, the assets in the trust pass to the other trust beneficiaries (the remainder beneficiaries). The value of the retained income is subtracted from the value of the property transferred to the trust (i.e., a share of the business), so if you live beyond the specified income period, the business may be transferred to the next generation at a reduced value for estate or gift tax purposes.

An important consideration in the decision-making process is potential tax ramifications, particularly for the seller. There are tools available to help reduce the potential impact of capital gains, estate and gift taxes when a sale occurs. Good planning plays a critical role in making sure that both the seller and the buyer achieve the most favorable results.

• What forms of protection are in place in case an unexpected event occurs? The need to implement a succession plan can sometimes strike without notice. Businesses that involve partners or likely successors, for example, may benefit from having a buy-sell agreement in place.

A buy-sell agreement lets you keep control of your interest until the occurrence of an event that the agreement specifies, such as your retirement, disability, or death. Other events, such as divorce, also can be included as triggering events under a buy-sell agreement. When the triggering event occurs, the buyer is obligated to buy your interest from you or your estate at the fair market value. The buyer can be a person, a group (such as co-owners), or the business itself. Price and sale terms are prearranged, which eliminates the need for a fire sale if you become ill or when you die. Remember, however, that you are bound under a buy-sell agreement.

Business succession is a complex matter. It involves close work with a financial advisor, tax specialist and an attorney experienced in these types of matters to structure a solution that is most suitable for your business and potential successors.

Justin R. Martin is an associate financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Contact him at (804) 320-3105 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Reynolds CC to host sculptor Paul DiPasquale

Reynolds Community College will host Richmond sculptor Paul DiPasquale Sept. 28 as he shares his presentation “Art Talk, Why Art Matters” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Conference Center Gallery of the Workforce Development and Conference Center on the Parham Road Campus, located at 1651 E. Parham Road in Richmond. This event is free and open to the public. > Read more.

Free children’s clothing for those in need

The Children's Clothing Closet at Highland Springs United Methodist Church will be open Saturday, Aug. 27 and Tuesday, Aug. 30 to provide free new or nearly new children's clothing for families in need, prior to the start of the school year. The Clothing Closet will be open from 10 a.m. to noon both days. The church is located at 22 North Holly Avenue. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10

Beautiful fall weather is back this weekend! Don’t leave your favorite pooch at home – take the whole family to Canine Companions’ DogFest Walk ‘n Roll at West Broad Village or FETCH a Cure’s annual Mutt Strutt at Deep Run Park. Pets are also welcome at this weekend’s Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games. Halloween events taking place Sunday include the University of Richmond’s 18th annual Trick or Treat Street and Goblins and Gourds at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.


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Henrico residents can apply for the Henrico Christmas Mother program from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 361 Dabbs House Rd. Bring proof of county residency, Social Security cards and income verification for all household members, birth certificates for each child on the application, proof of custody and proof of disability. The Christmas Mother program provides qualifying families, disabled adults and the elderly with food, clothing, books and toys during the holiday season. For details, call 236-9741 or visit Full text

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