Succession Development and the Independent Business Owner

As a third generation independent business owner, I have lived through, and seen how sad it is when business owners retire with little to show for their lifetime of efforts. The statistics are not great either, approximately ****94% of Australians retire with little or no self-derived income and require Government assistance to survive.In my opinion we have been sold a bit of a lemon with regards to superannuation with most Australians thinking that simply paying into a super fund will guarantee a great retirement income and lifestyle. The facts are that for Australian women our superannuation falls grossly short of what is needed and whilst the average Australian male has approximately double that of the women in Super, it is nowhere near enough to survive on. As we are living longer, we can spend almost a third of our lives in retirement. Just doing some simple maths will show if you have enough. But Australia we have been sold that by putting money into Superannuation that we will be all right in the end. Here is the wakeup call; Superannuation alone is nowhere near enough for most of us to survive on without Government assistance.For the independent business owner, unfortunately, they pay themselves last and many don’t even have superannuation or if they do, they have not contributed for years. The Government regulations on business owners is so arduous that it is becoming harder and harder to put away anything for themselves.Many independent business owners spend their days completely occupied with gaining market share, hiring and keeping employees, motivating staff, beating the competition, to give succession development any thought. Strange how such highly motivated, intelligent and energetic people can avoid such an important planning issue to their business.For the independent business owner it is a somewhat daunting and complex process to address their working life coming to an end, and most dread tackling it, they would rather work well beyond their years than face succession development or retiring. Many business owners have not accumulated much super instead they have put it back in their business. However on retirement they often do not sell the business for enough to live on in the retirement years. I’ve worked with many independent business owners who become frustrated and bitter with their environment towards the end of their career, making their business an even less viable option for someone to take over. For the majority of these hard working, self-sacrificing Aussies, there is no gold watch, goodbye party or big deposit into their bank account to say well done for your years of toil.However, most successful succession development has only three simple steps.

Keep the succession plan simple

Stay realistic about goals

Measure the steps of the plan for succession outcomes
Whilst most information on succession development has to do with the handing over of the business or the duties to someone else, an exceptional Financial Advisor will look at succession development with a slightly different focus, one that addresses your end income revenue stream and lessening your financial burden, thus reducing the stress on the independent business owner when it comes to the best financial opportunities to selling or handing over the business.Here is an example of the difference between doing nothing and engaging a professional financial advisor. Lucy W is single, an independent business owner, and 54 years old. Lucy has estimated that she needs approximately $50,000 per annum to live on. Lucy has around $60,000 in her superannuation fund.( *The average superannuation for women is $41,000) Upon retirement at age 67, Lucy will have not even two years of income from her superannuation, and then have to rely on the Government for a pension of approximately $20,000 P/A. (**More than half Australian women have incomes of less than $30,000P/A) After meeting with a financial advisor and working out a blueprint, Lucy could attain a retirement income of $60,000 per annum by investing in premium properties, strategically selected for optimum returns.Lucy’s plan involved purchasing four properties within two years and waiting for the compounding capital growth and rental return to occur which will reach above her estimated income goal in year six, when she can retire at age 60 independent of age pensions. *** (77% of Australian women rely on age pension in retirement)Most self-structured property portfolios have no plans other than obtaining rental properties, with no strategic process, thinking that the accumulation of properties would create sufficient wealth or income alone. A good financial advisor will incorporate acquisition, management and exit strategies to achieve specific wealth or income goals.Lucy had also recently paid to attend a get rich quick seminar that suggested it was easy to buy real estate, subdivide, build, and you would get rich fast. Lucy had not costed the entire project, did not know about the difficulties of building and different types of building contracts, and what happens when costs blow out and did not know how to take all the risk out of the transaction. The reality is far different, and to be successful requires a great deal of expertise and knowledge to achieve positive and predictable results.After posing a few strategic questions to Lucy she became aware that she did not have anywhere near the required knowledge, time or skill to perform such high risk real estate developments. Instead she chose to engage a professionals future certain plan, which has underwritten advice, and strategies that simply work.Do nothing Professional Strategy Succession StrategyAge 54 54Home value $500,000 $500,000Superannuation $60,000 $60,000Retirement Age 60 $20,000 p/a $60,000 p/aRetirement Age 67 $20,000 p/a $120,000 p/aWith an approach that allows the independent business owner to be free of the concerns about future income, I’ve seen from experience how their performance and enthusiasm improves and they end up having a much better result with their succession development, and actually look forward to it. So a professional financial advisor will do the following for you;

Keep your plan simple;

Stay very realistic about goals;

Measure the steps of the plan for succession outcomes
The example used for this article was a client of FLAG Property Investment Services.

Shoe Repairs And Several Other Things When I Was 7

Shoe Repairs And Several Other Things When I Was 7
My Dad repaired most of our shoes believe it or not, I can hardly believe it myself now. With 7 pairs of shoes always needing repairs I think he was quite clever to learn how to “Keep us in shoe Leather” to coin a phrase!

He bought several different sizes of cast iron cobbler’s “lasts”. Last, the old English “Laest” meaning footprint. Lasts were holding devices shaped like a human foot. I have no idea where he would have bought the shoe leather. Only that it was a beautiful creamy, shiny colour and the smell was lovely.

But I do remember our shoes turned upside down on and fitted into these lasts, my Dad cutting the leather around the shape of the shoe, and then hammering nails, into the leather shape. Sometimes we’d feel one or 2 of those nails poking through the insides of our shoes, but our dad always fixed it.

Hiking and Swimming Galas
Dad was a very outdoorsy type, unlike my mother, who was probably too busy indoors. She also enjoyed the peace and quiet when he took us off for the day!

Anyway, he often took us hiking in the mountains where we’d have a picnic of sandwiches and flasks of tea. And more often than not we went by steam train.

We loved poking our heads out of the window until our eyes hurt like mad from a blast of soot blowing back from the engine. But sore, bloodshot eyes never dampened our enthusiasm.

Dad was an avid swimmer and water polo player, and he used to take us to swimming galas, as they were called back then. He often took part in these galas. And again we always travelled by steam train.

Rowing Over To Ireland’s Eye
That’s what we did back then, we had to go by rowboat, the only way to get to Ireland’s eye, which is 15 minutes from mainland Howth. From there we could see Malahide, Lambay Island and Howth Head of course. These days you can take a Round Trip Cruise on a small cruise ship!

But we thoroughly enjoyed rowing and once there we couldn’t wait to climb the rocks, and have a swim. We picnicked and watched the friendly seals doing their thing and showing off.

Not to mention all kinds of birdlife including the Puffin.The Martello Tower was also interesting but a bit dangerous to attempt entering. I’m getting lost in the past as I write, and have to drag myself back to the present.

Fun Outings with The camera Club
Dad was also a very keen amateur photographer, and was a member of a camera Club. There were many Sunday photography outings and along with us came other kids of the members of the club.

And we always had great fun while the adults busied themselves taking photos of everything and anything, it seemed to us. Dad was so serious about his photography that he set up a dark room where he developed and printed his photographs.

All black and white at the time. He and his camera club entered many of their favourites in exhibitions throughout Europe. I’m quite proud to say that many cups and medals were won by Dad. They have been shared amongst all his grandchildren which I find quite special.

He liked taking portraits of us kids too, mostly when we were in a state of untidiness, usually during play. Dad always preferred the natural look of messy hair and clothes in the photos of his children.

How to Successfully Meet the Three Biggest Marketing Challenges

I like to think I’m a pretty good marketer of my professional services.After all, I’ve been at it for 34 years, read hundreds of marketing books, thousands of articles and studied with the very best marketing gurus.But marketing is still challenging for me and the majority of independent professionals. If it weren’t, we’d all have more clients than we could serve, they’d be paying us high fees, and we’d never having to worry where our next clients would come from.And we wouldn’t need the thousands of marketing coaches and consultants like me offering services of all kinds to help you attract more clients.So, why is marketing so challenging?There are many marketing challenges, however, if you look at marketing closely, there are actually only three big challenges that give us the most trouble.Learn how to meet those challenges and your marketing will become more successful, easier, and fun.Here are those three marketing challenges:Challenge #1. Clearly communicating the value of what you are offering. Someone will not buy your services if they don’t see the real value to them. Your message can’t be vague or confusing; it must be clear and beneficial.One way to zero in on the value of your service is to define the top three attributes your service possesses. One or two is not enough; five or six tends to dilute your message.So, for instance, a sales training company might want to emphasize that their training is guaranteed to increase sales, improve sales confidence quickly, and can be delivered virtually in 45-minute online modules.That’s easy to understand and obviously beneficial. That kind of clear and valuable message is likely to generate attention, interest, and response.Seems simple, but not so easy to do. In my experience with thousands of independent professionals, their messages tend to be vague, not specific, and weak in terms of value.And if that value is not clear, prospects won’t respond.Taking the time to work on your message, fine-tune it, and test it until it gets a favorable response is one of the most important things you can possibly do in your business.To succeed at this task you must get inside the heads of your ideal clients and ask what they want the most, what problems they struggle with frequently, what isn’t working for them, and what could make their jobs easier and more productive.Jaynie L. Smith of Smart Advantage consulting says that 90% of companies don’t really know what their clients value the most. No wonder marketing messages are so bad.You can improve your marketing messages by reading and research (ask Google), sending questionnaires to your clients (Survey Monkey), or conducting a virtual focus group (via Zoom Video). Ultimately, you want to find out their biggest challenges and what they value the most.When you have that marketing intelligence, it will be a lot easier to come up with powerful marketing messages.This is challenging because it takes time and deep thinking. But if you realize its importance, you’ll invest your energies to come up with a powerful message that makes your service attractive, interesting, and compelling to your ideal clients.Challenge # 2. Making your business visible with repeated impressions of your message over time. It can take several impressions before someone responds to your marketing message.Just today, I noticed a message that one of my first level connections had sent to me on LinkedIn. When I checked the message, I noticed that he had sent me a total of 13 messages over a one-year period.The messages were actually very good. They had the right tone and great calls-to-action. It’s just that I don’t pay a lot of attention to my LinkedIn messages and had completely missed the first 12!He understood the value of repeat impressions over time and had developed a system within LinkedIn that had enabled him to send a unique, personalized message every month for a year. Pretty impressive.If he had only sent one or two messages, the chances are good that I wouldn’t have seen them.Again, my experience with the majority of self-employed professionals is that their marketing visibility is, at best, random and inconsistent, and at worst, non-existent.As you may know, I’ve sent out an email newsletter to my list pretty much every week for 21 years. That’s visibility. It’s really quite simple, but not so easy.If you want to be effective at your marketing, you must identify marketing strategies that enable you to get your message in front of your prospective clients consistently.And again, this is challenging. What is the best marketing activity for you, your personality and talents? How can you fit something into your schedule and do it consistently, not for a few weeks but for years?The question is not just what marketing strategies to use. Networking, speaking, blogging, email newsletters, webinars, social media, and direct outreach can all work.The more important question is what strategies will work the best for you and how exactly you can implement those strategies without spinning your wheels.You’re looking for proven, step-by-step instructions so you can evaluate if a strategy is right for you and something you can fit into your schedule on a regular basis. Remember, sporadic implementation is a waste of time.Implementing visibility strategies takes commitment and persistence. Is growing and succeeding in your business important enough for you to make that kind of effort? If it is, you’ll succeed at finding the best strategy for you.The final challenge may be the most important of all to overcome.Challenge #3. Maintaining the right marketing attitude and mindset over time, despite setbacks. If you can’t maintain The 3 R’s of success – responsibility, resourcefulness, and resilience, your marketing will never achieve the results you want.These 3Rs are absolutely essential. Responsibility is the stance that the buck stops with you. You are the only one who will find a way to attract clients and you won’t give up until you find that way. You won’t make excuses or blame circumstances, but instead will be accountable for making results happen.Resourcefulness is the skill to utilize your talents, and abilities to quickly find smart ways to overcome difficulties and find solutions. And to be resourceful, you can’t be full of doubts and fears of failure or rejection. A responsible person commits to finding a way; a resourceful person tries every way possible until they discover the best way.Resilience may be the most powerful trait of all. It’s what enables you to bounce back from adversity, setbacks, and even failures. And if you’re working to attract great clients, you’ll inevitably experience all of those many times. People who are not resilient don’t even try, let alone succeed.All of these essential qualities are in short supply. But if you work to grow those qualities persistently, over time, they will help you succeed with the first two challenging things in marketing – messaging and visibility.Despite these three marketing challenges – messaging, visibility, and mindset – there is good news.Improving your skills or abilities – even a little – in any of these three challenge areas will increase your marketing effectiveness.There is no perfect way of tackling all three challenges and you can’t do it in big leaps that get you there overnight. But you can work on all three slowly, with persistence, making small gains every week.When you improve your messages, you’ll start to see a better response in communicating to your prospects. Marketing then becomes like a game that starts with the question, “How can I communicate my value more clearly and powerfully?”When you increase your visibility, you’ll also notice a better response because to some degree, marketing is a numbers game. Your question might be, “How can I get my message in front of more of the right people this month?”And when you enhance your responsibility, resourcefulness, and resilience, you’ll find that playing the game becomes easier and more fun. The 3Rs are the fuel that enables you to persist with the first two challenges.Where do you start?You start by admitting where you are now and then committing to a purpose (your WHY for being in business in the first place), a goal (a specific thing you want to achieve), and to taking action (the actual steps you’ll implement to get there).Yes, marketing is challenging. But meeting those challenges is absolutely worth it.Cheers, Robert