NOTE – This is a late draft excerpt from an upcoming book being written by the team of Marshall + Viliesis. The name of the book is “Value & Protect.” There are four areas of business owner protection planning:

  • Succession
  • Retirement
  • Estate
  • Key Stakeholder

Here is Chapter 4 as it relates to the four planning areas………



Agreement, Connectivity, Stakeholders & Making Decisions

You need to make decisions in each of the four planning areas outlined in chapter 3. Unfortunately we cannot simply snap our fingers and create a plan. There are some rules and guidelines we use in planning, designed to save time, maintain focus, eliminate confusion and create certainty.

Be mindful of these rules and guidelines. Save yourself time and money.

Agreement – You and your advisors must be in agreement about what it is you are working on and what problems you are trying to solve otherwise you might as well be attending to unrelated projects. Make this a rule when you approach planning for your business. Don’t start until you are in agreement. Do this work up front. If you and your advisors have a different definitions or ides about succession planning (as an example) and what it is then don’t go any further until you are on the same page.

Make sure you are working on the same problem and working toward the same solution. This sounds simple yet few do this. You can still have flexibility in the planning process yet it keeps it on track. Get all of your advisors to get on board with this and be aligned in working for you. Before you start be in agreement.

Connectivity – Each of the 4 planning areas are interconnected. Decisions you make about succession impacts your retirement, estate, and key stakeholder planning. They are connected. In most cases these decisions have minimal impact yet always be aware of this reality. If the impact is significant it will cost you a lot of time and money.

Taking a few moments to consider the ripple effect of your planning decisions makes a world of difference. Be mindful about how they are connected and be in agreement with your advisors about this as well. This is not suggesting you need to work on all four planning areas at once. We are advocating the need to respect the interconnection of the planning areas.

Stakeholders – Always consider the stakeholders impacted by your planning decisions. First, consider who are your stakeholders. They are:

  • Business Partners
  • Employees
  • Customers
  • Family Members
  • Suppliers 
  • Community

Some stakeholders you might consider primary and others secondary. Regardless, you are making planning decisions potentially impacting them. Guard against a negative result.

Making Decisions – Douglas L. Hubbard is the author of four books on the subject of risk management. Two of his books are on the required exam preparation reading list for the Society of Actuaries. In a presentation “How to Measure Anything” Hubbard asked this question of his audience, “What is your most important decision?”

According to Hubbard the answer to this question should be the same for any business owner. It does not matter who the owner is or the type of business or the structure of the business.

Question – What is your most important decision?

Answer – Your most important decision is deciding how you make decisions. If you decide ahead of time how you are going to make a decision you are in a much improved position to make better decisions. 

The more you ponder this answer the more it makes sense.

Rules and Guidelines Summary – Being mindful of these rules and guidelines makes the planning easier. Be in agreement with your advisors on the definitions and the objectives of your planning. Make sure you are on the same page working toward the same end. Never forget, each of the planning areas are interconnected. Always be thinking about your stakeholders. If you do this you are going a long way to create a workable structure for how you will make decisions about your protection planning.

You will see these rules and guidelines woven into the next chapter about the Three Planning Principles.

Sometimes as a reminder I will write in the margins of my notes when meeting with a business owner:




Making Decisions

In this way I am reminded of the importance of these rules and guidelines, keeping them top of mind.

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