If you’re like many small business owners, it may not feel like much of a recovery, at least yet. Actually, this could still be the most dangerous time for businesses, with resources cut to the bone and few reserves remaining in the emergency root cellar. All the more reason to cinch that belt one notch tighter, plan for the future, and take steps to protect your assets, during the lean times that may remain while the recovery picks up momentum.
Now is the time to develop a four-step strategy that brings your business through the next few months and positions it for growth as the economy strengthens.
1. Protect Your Customer Base
Your customers are vital assets. They provide the cash to make everything else happen. Take steps to keep them.
Start with some creative, short-term marketing to keep cash flowing for the next several months. First of all, advertise, so your customers know you’re still there. Call or write preferred customers (and today they’re all preferred customers) to thank them for past business and remind them that you’re still there for them. Invite them for a virtual cup of coffee. Consider short-term price reductions. No business owner likes to discount products or services, but if one of your customers is looking to lower expenses, it may be better to offer a reduction yourself than find out that he or she went elsewhere.
2. Protect Your Employee
Do what it takes to retain quality employees, your greatest business assets. They’ve stayed with you this long: don’t let them slip away now.
First, do not cut pay or benefits. They’ll think your ship is sinking and they may jump. Instead, consider expanding your benefit package. No, you don’t need to do it right now. Instead, look at future benefits. Now may be an ideal time to explore 401(k) or other qualified plan options. Do your homework today. Then, if you like, defer the actual implementation until later in the year. This strategy gives your employees a vision for the future. Plus, it boosts their faith that there will be a future.
Also, now is the time to consider a benefit designed to retain select key employees by utilizing a form of deferred compensation known as “golden handcuffs.” The concept is simple: Using a written agreement, select employees agree to remain with your company until retirement or some other specified period of time. In exchange, they are promised additional compensation to be paid at a later date. (Or, if they die prematurely, their family is promised a life insurance benefit.) This can be a valuable way to retain top performers.
3. Protect Your Business Infrastructure and Long-term Plans
Draft or update your buy-sell agreement for the eventual transfer of your company at your own retirement or death. Also, look at key person insurance to help protect your company from loss if a valued employee should die prematurely.
4. Protect Your Company’s and Your Family’s Investment in You
While it’s not polite to brag, you are your business’s greatest business asset, the linchpin that holds everything together. So, protect yourself. Review your company’s life insurance program. That way, if something happens to you, your business and your family will be financially protected.
Click on the link below to see a real life story of how proper planning helped a business and a family.
This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered specific tax, legal, investment of planning advice, which will only be provided on a personalized basis. Please consult your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation.