Family-owned businesses, a key pillar in the American economy, make up a significant number of the privately held companies across our country. Although these companies cut across all industries and range in size from small to large, they all share common challenges. The most daunting of these challenges is how to manage the transition of the business from generation to generation.
Regardless of when or how you plan to exit, data indicates that having an exit strategy increases the odds your business will sell for optimum value. It is in your best interest to understand thoroughly—and well in advance of your exit—how each strategy affects you, your company, and your employees; only then will you be able to craft an effective exit strategy.
An ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) is an attractive way to access the personal wealth currently trapped in the shares of privately owned businesses and share the wealth with the employees who helped create that business.
Among the fastest ways for a company to grow entity value is through accretive acquisitions. With a well-executed acquisition strategy, companies can realize significant value in the first year, which often accelerates in the years that follow.
Change is hard to initiate even when we know the results will be better for us. This is true when there are signs that our ESOP valuation firm is no longer providing the necessary professional assistance. Our reluctance fades however, if warning signs begin pointing to increased risks for our company.
Congress created ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plans) to foster employee ownership so that employees might share in their employers’ successes. To entice owners to implement ESOPs, the proceeds of the sale of the company’s shares to an ESOP are tax deferred, so long as certain requirements are met.
Congress has chosen to bestow a variety of significant tax benefits on business owners and companies that participate in a special ownership structure. Because it is very difficult for a fully taxable ownership structure to compete with a tax-advantaged structure, many business owners should evaluate the possibilities under this special structure, known commonly as an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The ESOP structure provides shareholder and corporate tax benefits which require proper consideration and transaction structuring to ensure maximum benefit.
Often business owners who are interested in bringing liquidity to their holdings seek only a sale to disinterested third parties. And that frequently works out just fine for both the buyer and seller. But sometimes the personal emotional strings attached to the business, whether on the surface or not, are simply too strong to break the ties and turn control over to “the new guys on the block.”
An interesting study exists called Roads to Resilience, which is a 2014 report by the UK’s Cranfield School of Management on behalf of the UK insurance and risk consultancy, Airmic. The basic thesis is that opportunity is the upside of risk, and that seizing risk-driven opportunities requires a decisive and rapid response, which in turn requires empowered teams, practiced processes and flexible resources.
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