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Final Act

I went to the funeral of a client this past weekend – a client with a very successful business.  It got me thinking about what happens to a business when the owner dies.  Of course if it is a large business with a lot of employees, there are steps in place for when something like this happens.  But what happens to a small business?  The family could take over.  New Management could come in.  It could sell.  But how easy is it for these things to happen.

I compiled a list of things you should do to help your business succeed if new owners need to come in.  This is a list that everyone should be doing anyway.  Is your business ready?

1.  Clean off your desk.  This sounds so trivial.  But can you imagine starting a new job and the first thing you see is a desk with about a foot of papers on it.  You won’t know what is going on or where things belong.  Who knows what is at the bottom of that pile.

2.  Your computer desktop should also be cleaned off and organized.  Make it easy to find things.  Put projects in client files.  Have all forms in another file.  Do whatever is appropriate for your business so it is not confusing to someone new.

3.  I know they say not to write down passwords.  They also say not to put them in a file on your computer.  But they need to be somewhere.  Get a small notebook and write them all down in one place.  Then put that notebook somewhere safe – like the bank deposit box where you keep all your insurance papers.  If your computer is password protected, new owners can’t even get on to get things going on day one.

4.  Speaking of safe deposit boxes, this might be a good place to keep a copy of your business plan.  Do you have a section of your business plan that states an exit plan?  Of course an exit plan is used if you sell your business, but it might give the new owners some insight into what you would like your business to do.

5.  Make sure your books are up to date.  And balance your checkbook regularly.  Accounting can be a nightmare in the best of situations.  Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

There is nothing new in this list that you shouldn’t already be doing.  And it may seem a bit trivial considering the circumstances.  But can you imagine your spouse or children walking in to take over your business and finding a complete mess.  Haven’t they been through enough!  Make your final act one that will make things easier for them.  Organize!

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