Planning for life after you're done wrapping

Planning for the Day You've Wrapped Your Last Vehicle

Starla Miller is the co-chief visionary at Miller Decals LLC, the largest exclusive vinyl installation company in Atlanta. She has a bachelor’s degree of Science in Business Administration from Mississippi College.

Most vinyl installers’ DNA is not programed to think about the future beyond about a week or two. They spend more time planning a vacation than planning to retire. Coming from a background that was saturated with financial and retirement verbiage has helped me tremendously as a business owner.

It is best to start retirement planning with the end in sight, much like for a vacation. When are you going? Where are you going? How much is it going to cost? How rugged or elaborate will it be? Start now to develop your plan and you can improvise or adjust as you go through the process. While the dreaming of cabins and beaches is the best part, there are several options that owners should think about for an eventual retirement when starting up or already running their shops.

The fastest way to exit the ownership of the business is to liquidate it. You can sell off all of your assets, put the money in the bank or pay off your debt and be done. Hopefully during the time you owned the business you have planned personally to set aside a variety of savings and accumulated a portfolio comprised of life/disability insurance, emergency savings, a ROTH IRA, a taxable IRA or pension, an investment portfolio and have reported to the social security administration your earnings annually and paid in your FICA to be able to receive these benefits as well. There are so many different ways to set up a retirement portfolio. Please consult with your CPA or a certified financial planner or both to determine the best options for your individualized situation.

Selling your business to fund your retirement can be an option. You will need to take the time to build a company that is self-sustaining and profitable. It has to have set systems and procedures so the new owner can learn these and continue the operation. The inner workings of your business are considered intellectual or proprietary property. There are business brokers that partner with business owners and potential purchasers to facilitate the sale. You can reach out to your local small business association to get a recommendation of a broker or two and interview them. They will also help you with the process of getting your business evaluated or appraised.

Some business owners are fortunate enough to have someone or several people in their family to pass the family business to and continue the prosperity through succession. This can be accomplished in many different ways and should be negotiated carefully. An attorney familiar with family business law can help identify an efficient way to transfer ownership and determine the best time for this transition. Tax and estate planning will need to be evaluated to minimize the income and estate tax consequences.  

Another option for retirement is to sell your business to your employees. There is a vehicle called an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or an ESOP. This is a great incentive for employees to want to contribute to the success of the company because they will be acquiring stocks or ownership in the business. It also has some great tax benefits. Talk to your CPA or financial planner to decide if this could be an option for you.

You could merge your business with an existing complementary operation where they can acquire your assets. This can be a great situation for both the seller and the buyer. It can be tricky to find these types of opportunities. You may have one or more customers or vendors who come to mind when you read this. The ideal buyer will have more skills to be able to use this merge to scale up their business. Reach out to them and explore the possibilities. It may be the answer to finalize your retirement plan.

Some people don’t think about setting up an exit plan for their retirement until it is too late. Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail” has always been a quote I took to heart. We have these words on the door as you exit our shop for all to read as they leave each day. Benjamin Franklin was a printer, a scientist, a lover of the sea and a dreamer. He contributed so much to his community. His words remind me to focus on the plan. Maybe you should consider it, too! Don’t you want to plan your ultimate vacation?