Author Archives: Reeve Conover

It’s a Great Time for Buying or Selling a Business

Our new infographic, “It’s a Great Time for Buying or Selling a Business,” looks at how small businesses change hands in the United States.

After jumping in 2013, small business transactions have remained stable with around 7,000 businesses bought or sold each year. “Part of the reason transaction activity stabilized in 2015,” BizBuySell reports, “may be that small businesses continue to grow financially healthier, allowing owners to ask for more money, creating a more balanced market.”

The price of purchasing a business is rising — and that’s good news for anyone considering selling. Last year, businesses tended to sell for just $25,000 lower than their asking price.

Internet B2B companies cost the most to buy, so be prepared with about $365,000 if you’re in the market for one. Meanwhile, you can likely buy a dry cleaning shop, restaurant, convenience store or barber shop for under $200,000. In fact, restaurants accounted for 22 percent of business sales in 2015, the highest of any industry.

But before you write a check, you’ll want to follow a few financial guidelines. Don’t invest more than 15 percent of your net worth into buying a business, and keep at least 10 percent of your liquid assets free for future business needs. “It is important to have a little bit of a financial buffer, in case some emergency would arise or the business would suddenly need some extra operating funds,” Jason Rueger of FitSmallBusiness advises. “Instead of investing all your liquid assets and being stuck with no cash, buffer gives you a financial cushion which you can draw from when needed.”

Thinking about selling your business? Don’t wait until the last minute — start doing your research and planning for sale two to five years in advance. Be sure to review your finances, as 31 percent of brokers surveyed reported bad financial health as a major reason why businesses don’t sell.

Check out the infographic for more details. If you’re considering buying a business or selling one you’ve built, contact a SCORE mentor. These seasoned volunteers can guide you through the process — and may have personal experience to share!

Should you self-fund your benefits plan?

Level funding, and self-funding, are becoming commonplace in the small business community.  It provides a way to soften the blow of Obamacare’s regulations, provides more flexibility, and can lower costs significantly – we have seen groups premiums lowered 30% or more.  Here are a two things to consider that would make you a good candidate:

Stability-  If you company is fairly stable in its size, and finances, then the product can work well for you.  If you are either growing or shrinking more than 10% in the next year, it may not be as good a fit.  If your cash flow is inconsistent or elusive, this is not the product to get involved with.

Claims History-  Do you have access to your claims history, or are pretty sure your group is mostly healthy?  Do you feel your firm is not getting its monies-worth from the insurance company?  If so, consider the product.  On the other hand,  if you group are high utilizers of the plan, then this may not be for your company.

If you want to know more just give us a call at 843-800-8190 or email Reeve Conover at reeve@reevewillknow.com.

Changes to Retirement Plan Audits

Recent rules changes have refocused the IRS on what they are calling a “focused examination.”  In a “focused examination” the IRS will look at the employers “internal processed and controls regarding pre-determined areas of compliance” such as investment policy statement, investment committee, eligibility, vesting and distributions.”  If they find no problems in those areas they will move on to another employer.

While this is good news for employers that maintain tight controls, it should not cause you to relax about the potential for an audit (either random, or based on employee complaint).  It is reported that a full audit and examination can involve between 75 and 150 requests for information, consumer 200-300 staff days, and yields significant dollars in corrections, fines and penalties.

OSCAR HEALTH loses 105 million

(Bloomberg) — Startup Oscar Health Insurance Corp. lost $105.2 million in its New York and New Jersey businesses last year, a sign that insurers of all sizes are struggling in the new markets created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

The losses, $92.4 million in New York and $12.8 million in New Jersey, were disclosed by Oscar in filings with state regulators. Chief Executive Officer Mario Schlosser said some of Oscar’s losses stem from the cost of starting a new health insurer. Others are tied to the same problems befalling bigger health plans: costlier customers and a shortfall in a key government program.

Schlosser said last month that Oscar is adjusting its strategy to limit costs as it enters new markets in California and Texas. The insurer — valued at $2.7 billion in its latest round of funding, according to a person familiar with the matter — has struck deals with limited groups of hospitals and doctors, rather than offering broad networks like traditional insurers. Oscar has also been narrowing its network in New York, and Schlosser said the company is getting better prices for some services as its membership increases.

For the full article click here

 

5 growth stage slipups that can kill your business

Originally published on the SCORE website.  Reeve Conover has been helping business owners start and grow their businesses as a volunteer SCORE mentor for more than 5 years:

 

“Many entrepreneurs have the guts to take that dramatic first step of sparking something into creation,” says Nelson. “But too many lack the perspective to reflect on what’s needed for the next step.”

And there simply are no required tests or qualifications to become an entrepreneur. Anyone can attempt it. That’s different from what Nelson experienced in the Navy where he served as a nuclear submarine office and had to prove his qualifications before advancing.

Because entrepreneurs often lack the skills to take their companies to the next level, they end up making mistakes that can quickly put those businesses at risk. Here are five such mistakes identified by Nelson, author of a new book called “The Second Decision – The Qualified Entrepreneur.”

Help1. Insisting on autonomy. One trait many entrepreneurs share is a desire for autonomy. That’s often why they became entrepreneurs in the first place. And that’s great starting out, because in the startup stage, the business is often all about you. Your fingerprints are on everything and there’s little you don’t know and aren’t directing.

But in the growth stage things become more complex. The business becomes more vulnerable to industry and economic trends. At that point, an entrepreneur’s insistence on autonomy can hurt the company’s ability to respond quickly and intelligently to challenges.

2. Unwillingness to build structure, cultivate expertise or delegate. As a business grows, many smart entrepreneurs surround themselves with a strong executive team – or at least a steady right-hand individual – to help ensure the company’s success, says Nelson. But too many business owners fail to create the kind of structure that produces good leadership decisions within a management team. As you grow your business, you must also build in accountability.

3. Lack of financial leadership. Many business owners simply are not strong on financial skills. This includes such things as tracking cash levels and trends, financial covenants, metrics and expenses. As the business grows, these things become more time consuming and complex. The business may need a financial expert to ensure the business owners gets good financial advice and input to grow the organization.

The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that 60 percent of businesses that fail owe their demise to a lack of cash. Says Nelson, “When it comes to financial leadership, it’s what entrepreneurs ‘don’t know that they don’t know’ that will multiply the risk that their business will ultimately fail.”

4. Failing to adjust to the day-to-day. For entrepreneurs – especially serial entrepreneurs – starting a business is exhilarating. That’s one reason they do it. By comparison, the reality of operating a growing business day-to-day can pale in comparison. A bored or disinterested founder can create big troubles for a growing business. A bored business owner might decide to start another business, or make abrupt changes to the current company to keep the level of excitement high.

“Entrepreneurs are to be celebrated for their desire to innovate. But when a serial entrepreneur habitually looks for new sandboxes to play in, what happens to the existing company often isn’t good,” says Nelson.

5. Failure to self-examine. Business owners are typically good at certain things. For example, some excel at salesmanship, others at marketing, and others at product development or perhaps customer service. But almost no entrepreneur is great at everything it takes to grow a successful business.

For that reason, entrepreneurs need to be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses – the same things they gauge in their employees. Set aside your abundant self-confidence and take stock of what you know, what you’re good at and what skills you still need to master.

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Reeve Conover is a Registered Representative. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/dealer member FINRA/SPIC. Cambridge and Conover Consulting are not affiliated. Licensed in SC, NC, NY, CT, NJ, and CA.
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