Bond Ladders: Managing Your Company’s Stagnant Finances

If you have a large amount of money just sitting in your business, it could spell hard times ahead for your business. I have a solution that would allow you to use your money more wisely.

Municipal bonds generate tax-free income, and therefore pay lower interest rates than taxable bonds. Therefore, municipal bonds may not be suitable for all investors. Please see your tax professional prior to investing.

Mutual Funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’s) are sold by prospectus. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from the Fund Company or your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest.

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Now that the economy is beginning to expand, a lot of businesses out there are starting to make money but are sitting on cash—or storing it inside their companies— that could be a bad idea.

We’ve noticed a couple things that don’t make any sense:

1. The cash they have sitting in the business is either in a checkbook or in a very low interest-bearing account. With just some simple changes, you could move that money into secure investments that won’t be subject to stock market ups and downs and that will enable you to earn much higher interest rates on what you’re investing in.

It doesn’t make any sense to have your money sitting in a corporation, earning nothing. By simply putting together a bond ladder of municipal bonds, you can go from earning nothing to earning possibly 2% to 3%, depending on how you put the bond ladder together. And guess what? The interest earned is tax-free! Not to mention that they’re individual bonds, so you can sell them at any time.

“By simply putting together a bond ladder of municipal bonds, you can go from earning nothing to earning possibly 2% to 3%.”

 

2.If you’re in a business where there could be a liability claim against your company, such as trucking, construction, or some other business in which accidents are possible, and people see that you’ve got all this money sitting in your company, the lawyers are going to have a field day suing you and your business to try to get money out of you.

Depending on the type of company you have, your accountants might be able to help you distribute that money and put it on your personal financial statements. You might think you could just invest it as you would now, and if the company ever needs the money, you can always loan it back, leaving large amounts of cash inside the business—but this could turn you into a sucker for an attorney suing you because someone was hurt in your business.

These are just a couple of things to think about when you’re discussing how to manage your company finances. My firm is skilled at getting into the weeds of how you’re managing the finances of your business and how you’re investing the money inside your company. If you’d like more information about the services we can provide you, reach out to us. We can help you come up with a number of strategies to make better use of the money you have sitting on your financial statement.

How to Keep Your Family Together After You Are Gone

Maintaining a healthy relationship with the people you love can be difficult when you also want your business to thrive. I have the advice you need to be successful at both.

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I work with a lot of family-run companies and have been seeing many of them run into the situation where the parents have not properly planned for the transition of their business to their children after they pass away. This creates conflict among the siblings that are left behind because the parents did not complete the necessary work prior to passing.

When you think about all the time and effort you have put into building a company, why would you not set it up properly so that it passes hands smoothly?

Imagine the following scenario: A couple has been running a business together for 30 to 40 years, and, over that time, their company’s net worth has grown significantly. Of their four children, only their youngest has been working alongside them in the business, while the other three have chosen separate career paths. However, things change when the couple pass. At this point, the three, previously uninvolved, children try to step in and reap the rewards of the company’s success.

“The best way to ensure that your children want to stay a family is by having these plans developed and worked out ahead of time.”

 

This is a common problem when family-run companies are passed down. Even if one child has a clear right to the business, like in the scenario I just outlined, the other children may disagree. Suddenly, children who previously had no involvement with a business may show interest in either growing or selling it. It is essential that parents who own and run a family business prepare clear plans for the company before their passing. If they don’t, their children may have a hard time agreeing on how to proceed. Additionally, such disagreements can be exacerbated when the children’s spouses get involved. Each child and, by extension, each of their spouses, are likely to have varying opinions on how (and by whom) the business should be run.

If you don’t have a plan for your family business after you pass, you will leave a mess behind. This planning could include moving stocks into a trust, structuring a buy-sell agreement with one particularly involved child, making executive plans to keep the management team around while transitioning from one generation to the next, and more.

Also, if only one child has been involved in the business previously (as in the case of our earlier example) parents can take out an insurance policy that will allow that child to eventually take full control.

We can help you develop a plan and build a presentation that will explain your intentions for the business. This kind of preparation will make sure that your children are treated fairly, that your business is well taken care of after your passing, and that, after you’re gone, your surviving family will remain close to one another.

Don’t put off making these plans. It’s never too early to settle your business’s future.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Maintain a Healthy Marriage to Maintain a Healthy Business

Maintaining a healthy relationship with the people you love can be difficult when you also want your business to thrive. I have the advice you need to be successful at both.

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To finish up my entrepreneurial series, I’d like to talk about marriage. Keeping your marriage in great shape while you are running a business can be difficult, but it is crucial to your success because your marriage is your most important partnership on the planet. I have timestamped highlights for the video below, so you can skip to the parts that apply most to your unique situation.

To start with, I’ll discuss your actions and the repercussions.

1:10 – The pressure of your business’s survival can encourage you to neglect your loved ones.
2:50 – Being close to coworkers is dangerous because of the temptation for emotional support.
3:40 – Do not let others devour your time home with your family.
4:50 – The repercussions of poor actions.
5:45 – Bitterness and our spiritual enemy create stress and collateral damage in your marriage.

Then, I’ll discuss the steps to rectify the temptations or ignore them altogether. By making your marriage your No. 1 priority, God will honor your business.

“Keeping your marriage in great shape is crucial to your business success. “

8:00 – Find a church home with other couples.
8:30 – Communicate with your spouse to encourage understanding.
10:00 – Taking your spouse with you to office events will deter attractions from others.
10:55 – Boundaries have to be set in the schedule.
13:00 – Take time to be romantic.

Finally, I’ll address what you can do to ensure you prevent ending up in a compromising position and the benefits.

15:00 – The fundamentals for maintaining a healthy marriage.
15:20 – Do not allow yourself to be alone with anyone of the opposite sex.
17:00 – Refrain from intimate conversations at work.
17:50 – The benefits of following my advice.

If you need any help working through any of the issues we talked about, I would love working with you to help your family business succeed and thrive. I would also love to speak with you if you require any coaching or guidance needs. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Entrepreneurial Purpose Part 3: Is It Time to Hit Reset on Your Business?

It might be time to set the reset button on your business. Success truly comes down to the basics.

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Welcome to the third installment of my “Entrepreneurial Purpose” series. If you haven’t seen the first two installments, I highly recommend checking them out. You can find the first part here and the second part here.

Today’s installment has to do with setting the reset button on your company.

If you want to get your company on the right track, it’s time to think about revisiting your purpose. Develop a new focus for your business and figure out why it exists.

Ask yourself, how do you stay in business and continue to grow? Your business needs to provide great value to your customers and perform a greater purpose than just making money.

Aside from just setting the reset button in your business, it might be time to set the reset button on your heart. If you’ve been burnt out, worn out, and have those “dark glasses” on, it’s time to reach down and invite the Lord into your life and business.

“If you don’t follow the fundamentals, you simply won’t succeed.”

When you start re-examining your business, begin by looking at your team. Do you have the right people with the right goals working for you? Are you surrounding yourself with people who will help drive you forward or are you dragging along people who don’t have the will to improve? You can’t allow unmotivated, unfocused team members to impede your growth.

You also should look at your business structure. Are you structured for growth? Are you using the right divisions and do you have the right systems in place? These are all questions you should address as you shift toward a better future.

Another area to evaluate is your clients. It’s important to think about whether you’re attracting the kind of clients you want to draw toward your business.

On a larger scale: What about the markets? Ask yourself whether you’re utilizing the right tools and techniques to capture your share of the market.

Financial structure is another important aspect of a successful business. Examine your current structure and eliminate areas of waste while promoting efficiency. Restructuring your finances could be key to positioning you for growth.

Finally, let’s talk about fundamentals. You know your industry and what your competitors are doing. Whatever business you’re in, there is no way for you to succeed if you aren’t paying attention to the basics. The reality is that the market doesn’t care whether you do the right thing or not. The market doesn’t care if you’re following the fundamentals. But, if you don’t follow the fundamentals, you can forget everything else I’ve said because you simply won’t succeed.

Of course, all of the things I’ve mentioned today can be extremely difficult to work through as a business owner. As an entrepreneur, you can sometimes be too close to your own business to see its flaws. It’s easy to get stuck in your mistakes. This is why I think it’s incredibly important to seek out professionals who can look at your business from the outside in. My company and I would love to provide this service for you. Let’s sit down and have a conversation. If I can help, I will.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Entrepreneurial Purpose Part 2: What Is God’s Purpose for Your Business?

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Today I’m back to bring you part two of our Entrepreneurial Purpose series. Last time, we talked about the importance of being an entrepreneur. If you haven’t already, go check out the first part here.

Now, let’s dive into today’s topic. I want you to ask yourself right now if you’re locked in a spiritual battle with your business. Are you wearing the dark glasses?

The bottom line is that if you run a company, you’re going to encounter issues. This can involve everything from marketplace and industry changes to employee turnover, and more. But one issue that often goes overlooked in any business is what’s happening deep inside of the heart of the owner.

Beyond all the other issues you might be dealing with, things going on in your heart and mind could have a huge impact on your company. So, ask yourself: Are you depressed? Are you having feelings of despair? Is there a lot of fear in your heart about where you’re headed? Are you tired and burnt out?

All of these feelings can destroy your energy, creativity, and your ability to strategize. Feeling these things can also destroy the hope that anything you’re doing will have an impact. When this happens, you go into “survival mode.” You aren’t doing much beyond simply trying to make it through.

This goes back to the dark glasses I mentioned earlier. When you wear them, your sense of reality is off. The things going on in your heart and mind may be distorting your view of what’s actually occurring within your business. But, why do these things happen to business owners? I personally believe that business owners can get caught up in a spiritual battle without even realizing it.

Before I explain what I mean, I want to make something clear: It’s my opinion that if you’re in a “sin business” or if your business preys on people and their money, nothing I talk about in this series will do you any good. If taking advantage of people is the way you’re doing business, calamity is going to be at your door sooner than later. I don’t believe there is any real long-term way to succeed and have peace, happiness, and joy if you’re in a business that promotes a sinful lifestyle or makes a financial gain at others’ expense.

“What you do is important to God, and He wants you to succeed.”

So, how can you tell if you’re locked in a spiritual battle as a business owner? There are a few signs. Do you have strong leadership skills? Are you thoughtful? On the other hand, maybe you’re feeling short-fused, unable to shake a sensation of frustration, and overwhelmed with paralyzing fear and anxiety. If any of these are the case for you as a business owner, there’s a good chance you’re locked in a spiritual battle. If you’re angry, bitter, or treat people meanly, the devil is winning and God is sad. That’s not how God wants you to be in business.

He wants you to succeed. He wants you to have a positive impact on your community by giving opportunity to your employees and their families. He wants you to inspire young entrepreneurs. He may even want you to rescue people in poverty who just can’t seem to get ahead. God might be looking at you as being the source for bringing his love and energy to the marketplace.

You need to bring God into your business. I know it might sound silly, but I can tell you this: If you humble yourself and approach the lord in prayer with contrition in your heart and ask him to help heal you and get your heart in a better place, you will be the kind of leader that he wants you to be.

That being said, there is evil in the world. We see the good and evil around us every day. This evil is God’s enemy, and the evil side of life wants you to feel defeated, despaired, and living so miserably that you’re unable to see the opportunities God has given you. If you’re working hard to run an ethical company with honor, integrity, and the right principles, you can be sure the devil is going to want to keep you from being successful. On the other side of the coin, you cannot expect good things from operating on the dark side of business. Calamity will come and the money you might make simply is not worth it.

But, if God wants your business to be a beacon of hope and you are locked in a spiritual battle, there is a way out. Oppression, disrespect, greed, and anger in your environment are all symptoms of a spiritual battle. The devil will inspire you to be lustful, to be greedy, and to be evil. He wants you to drive your life and business into a ditch. The pain you suffer will make it really difficult for you to run your company and lead it like God wants you to.

If you as an owner are working so hard to drive your company that you’ve basically abandoned your family, that’s another sign of the devil. God wants you to run a good company, but he wants you to love and care for your spouse and family too. He does not want you to run a company at the expense of those you love.

So, what does God want out of your company? First of all, He wants a godly atmosphere. The speech of the office should be healthy, instead of wrapped up in gossip and negativity. God wants you to provide opportunities and leadership, so that your employees can someday go out in the marketplace and make an impact like you have. He wants you to serve your customers and provide value in such a way that they know you have their back.

I can tell you from my 38 years of business that the people who run their companies the way I’m talking about will attract blessings. It’s basically the spiritual law of physics.

If you can overcome a spiritual battle in your business by following a godly path, success and joy will come to your life and the lives of those in your business. Invite God into your business and allow him to help you examine your heart and the heart of your business. If you know you’re doing things you shouldn’t, you can be pretty sure you’re walking down the devil’s path.

Next time, we’ll talk about how you can tap into resources to become a transformed business owner.

If you have any other questions or would like more information in the meantime, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

The True Value of Entrepreneurship

My company works with entrepreneurs at all levels of success.

Sometimes, starting a business is like loading an airplane at the end of the runway. Once you’re set to go with enough fuel for a long trip and start heading down the runway, you might start wondering whether the plane is actually going to take off. Eventually the plane starts to gain some altitude and you’re finally off the ground.

At this point it’s a relief to be in the air and on your way. The same is true of business. But, what happens when you notice tall trees directly in your path at the end of the runway? How do you get enough altitude to overcome these obstacles?

Things might be rough at first, but eventually you’ll find that you’ve reached a point where you can cruise a little. This new series, which will be focused on entrepreneurs, is really aimed at those who have cleared the trees and are cruising in their business.

I run into a lot of burnt-out people who have been in business 10, 15, or even 20 years and are experiencing a lot of problems. Whether it’s because of issues with employees, financial issues, growth issues, or anything else, these people have become disheartened over time. People like these have “put on dark glasses”—to them, everything is “shaded.”

Looking through such a dark lens makes hard for them to see any opportunities ahead. All they can focus on is fear and anxiety about the future. All of a sudden their hope, vision, innovation, and sense of destiny shrinks.

If this sounds like you, it’s time for a pep talk.

The first thing I want to remind you of is that as an entrepreneur, what you do is critically important to the marketplace. No civilization would be able to last without vibrant entrepreneurialism.

“Take those dark glasses off, start thinking about your purpose, and ask yourself, ‘What can I do with my gift?'”

It’s an incredible feeling to live in a country that allows you the freedom to work and create businesses. Entrepreneurs are the key ingredient to the survival of a community. Additionally, entrepreneurs play a big role in upholding our democracy.

There would be no freedom if it weren’t for entrepreneurs—who fight for liberty and equal opportunity in the marketplace. We are a free people largely thanks to entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs provide economic vitality through the job opportunities they bring. Those job opportunities lead to family stability, which allows communities and people to grow.

If you know me, you know that I believe in the spiritual power things hold in life. I truly believe that entrepreneurs are essential to carrying out God’s strategic plan. I personally believe we’re all made in God’s image and that he loves us all.

As an entrepreneur, you provide the stability He wants us to all have in life. Your entrepreneurial position provides opportunities for families, teaches people the value of work, and allows communities to thrive.

In many ways, I believe that entrepreneurs are ambassadors of God. If you have been given a skill, a passion, or talent—you have been given a gift. It’s incredibly important that you accept the destiny brought by your gift. Entrepreneurship is not all about money; it’s about the benefits and benchmarks you provide within the marketplace and community.

Finally, remember that you are instilling things in people that are the fundamentals of life. It is so important that you recognize the value of what you do as an entrepreneur.

So, I want you to do something. Take those dark glasses off, start thinking about your purpose, and ask yourself, “What can I do with my gift?”

If you can develop a vision for your future, you can achieve a lot of great things.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

The 4 Things We Strive to Accomplish With All Our Clients

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We’re passionate about what we do, and we evaluate ourselves based on the results we get with our clients. There are four things we want to accomplish with any clients we work with:

1. The siblings still love each other. After mom and dad are gone, we want to make sure the kids still want to spend the holidays together and hang with each other as a happy family.

2. The wealth of the family goes to those who can manage it well and make the wealth grow.

3. The business succeeds and thrives after the founders are gone. Many times when this happens, the businesses are sold or the departments are transferred to different parts of the country and employees lose their jobs. We strive to make sure that doesn’t happen.

4. The executives have the opportunity to become owners and entrepreneurs. This way they can carry on the legacy of the company.

“If we’ve accomplished these four things, we know we’ve done our job well.”

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d be happy to help!

Creating the Best Compensation Packages for Your Management Team

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If you run and own a company, you know that it can be a real challenge to figure out the compensation package for your management team.

Sometimes, your management teams are family; sometimes they’re not. Sometimes you may want your management team to become stockholders.

Oftentimes if you build a compensation plan that is too rich and performance isn’t associated with the money the management team is making, then the company can begin to drift financially.

It’s important to do a study to determine the right type of compensation plan for your management team. For example, do you want to have a low base with high bonuses based on profits and performance? Or do you want to offer a higher base with extra benefits for your management team that you don’t offer to all of the employees in the company?

It can also be very important to make sure that you have longevity in your business, stop turnover, and make sure that the people who are good stay with you until they retire. Often, people don’t leave your company because they don’t like working for you or they want a better salary. Most people leave because they can’t figure out how they will build enough wealth to be able to retire.

So, while people may be looking for a better salary, they may be more focused on a job that offers more perks, like stock options, bonus plans, deferred compensation packages, or salary continuation packages. Salary continuation packages provide an extension of their salary once your employees hit retirement. Most people can’t retire on their 401(k) plan, so providing extra benefits for your management team can be very important.

Another reason extra benefits are important is that you may want to transfer your company on to your children. In that case, it’s going to be really important to hang on to that top management team. Even if they aren’t going to get any stock in the business, setting up something supplemental to provide extra wealth for that group will motivate them to stick around.

“Providing extra benefits for your management team can be very beneficial.”

Ultimately, it’s incredibly important to get a study done on your compensation plan for your management team. We will look at the long-term objectives for your company, who you need to keep, and who you need to recruit in order to have a successful business. We will take all of that information into account and help you upgrade your compensation package so that you can hang on to (or recruit) that great management talent.

If you have any questions about compensation packages, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!

The True Value of Entrepreneurship

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My company works with entrepreneurs at all levels of success.

Sometimes, starting a business is like loading an airplane at the end of the runway. Once you’re set to go with enough fuel for a long trip and start heading down the runway, you might start wondering whether the plane is actually going to take off. Eventually the plane starts to gain some altitude and you’re finally off the ground.

At this point it’s a relief to be in the air and on your way. The same is true of business. But, what happens when you notice tall trees directly in your path at the end of the runway? How do you get enough altitude to overcome these obstacles?

Things might be rough at first, but eventually you’ll find that you’ve reached a point where you can cruise a little. This new series, which will be focused on entrepreneurs, is really aimed at those who have cleared the trees and are cruising in their business.

I run into a lot of burnt-out people who have been in business 10, 15, or even 20 years and are experiencing a lot of problems. Whether it’s because of issues with employees, financial issues, growth issues, or anything else, these people have become disheartened over time. People like these have “put on dark glasses”—to them, everything is “shaded.”

Looking through such a dark lens makes hard for them to see any opportunities ahead. All they can focus on is fear and anxiety about the future. All of a sudden their hope, vision, innovation, and sense of destiny shrinks.

If this sounds like you, it’s time for a pep talk.

The first thing I want to remind you of is that as an entrepreneur, what you do is critically important to the marketplace. No civilization would be able to last without vibrant entrepreneurialism.

“Take those dark glasses off, start thinking about your purpose, and ask yourself, ‘What can I do with my gift?'”

It’s an incredible feeling to live in a country that allows you the freedom to work and create businesses. Entrepreneurs are the key ingredient to the survival of a community. Additionally, entrepreneurs play a big role in upholding our democracy.

There would be no freedom if it weren’t for entrepreneurs—who fight for liberty and equal opportunity in the marketplace. We are a free people largely thanks to entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs provide economic vitality through the job opportunities they bring. Those job opportunities lead to family stability, which allows communities and people to grow.

If you know me, you know that I believe in the spiritual power things hold in life. I truly believe that entrepreneurs are essential to carrying out God’s strategic plan. I personally believe we’re all made in God’s image and that he loves us all.

As an entrepreneur, you provide the stability He wants us to all have in life. Your entrepreneurial position provides opportunities for families, teaches people the value of work, and allows communities to thrive.

In many ways, I believe that entrepreneurs are ambassadors of God. If you have been given a skill, a passion, or talent—you have been given a gift. It’s incredibly important that you accept the destiny brought by your gift. Entrepreneurship is not all about money; it’s about the benefits and benchmarks you provide within the marketplace and community.

Finally, remember that you are instilling things in people that are the fundamentals of life. It is so important that you recognize the value of what you do as an entrepreneur.

So, I want you to do something. Take those dark glasses off, start thinking about your purpose, and ask yourself, “What can I do with my gift?”

If you can develop a vision for your future, you can achieve a lot of great things.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

How Retiring Shareholders Can Divest Completely Tax-Free

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If you’re a retiring shareholder who wants to sell your company stock to younger employees or future company leaders, an Employee Stock Ownership Plan is one the most tax-efficient ways for you to sell your business and retire.

Let me explain with an example.

Say you have a corporation and you’re the majority stockholder and you’re getting ready to retire.There are two young stockholders in the company who intend to buy your stock when you retire. They may pay you with corporate earnings or borrow from the bank, but one of the biggest things that gets overlooked in this scenario is the tax cost of buying out a retiring shareholder.

For simplicity’s sake in this example, let’s say your stock is worth $1. The corporation and our two young stockholders need to come up with that dollar to buy your stock. That means the corporation needs to earn $1.43 in income so they can pay $0.43 in taxes to the government (if you’re in a 30% bracket).

You just got your dollar for your stock, but that’s not the end of it. The key question is whether you profited by selling the stock. Let’s say you had almost no basis in the stock when you sold; you could turn around and give another $0.20 in capital gain tax to the government.

Between you and the corporation, just to sell your $1 stock, you lost a combined 63 cents in this hypothetical. In short, 63% goes out the window if you buy stock the way most people buy it when someone retires.

There’s a unique alternative to this, however. This option would be of interest to someone who really cares about allowing the company’s employees to become stockholders and manage the future of the business.

“By selling your shares to the ESOP, you create a completely tax-free transaction.”

You can do this by setting up an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP.

This is a retirement plan that requires you to follow all the federal rules for 401(k) plans, pension plans, and profit sharing plans. The good thing is that the federal government likes these plans because wealth—in the form of stock—gets handed down to rank-and-file employees, so there are big time incentives.

With this option, your stock is bought by the ESOP rather than the corporation when you retire. The ESOP needs money to do this, so you would arrange financing from a bank. When retiring, you sell your shares right back to the ESOP, which is funded by the bank.

The first major benefit is that if you set things up right when selling your stock to the ESOP, you can completely eliminate capital gain tax. In our hypothetical example, you’re then saving $0.20. Another great thing is that the government allows you to put up to 25% of your payroll into the ESOP as well, which can then be deducted as a business expense. That eliminates the 43% tax.

By selling your shares to the ESOP, you create a completely tax-free transaction.

The payments needed to pay the bank for the ESOP’s financing are made on a tax-deductible basis as well. This is where it gets good for the employees.

Your debt to the bank gets really high when first starting. A typical amortization schedule drops that debt down to nearly nothing; your typical loan is usually something like a seven-year loan. As you begin to pay down that debt and equity starts to build, the equity goes out to your employees in the form of stock shares in the ESOP.

In the long run, your employees will build wealth, which they would never have been able to do if you hadn’t set this sort of strategy up.

Now, I don’t believe you should set up an ESOP unless your company is worth $5 million or more and your annual payroll is $1.5 million or more. It’s pretty expensive to set up an ESOP compared to your typical retirement plan. For the right company though, it’s a really great strategy.

If you’d like help, we prepare a preliminary assessment that will go through all the details of setting up an ESOP, examine the financing you need, anticipate the potential tax savings, and help you work out all the details before you make the next step.

If you’re interested, just give me a call or send me an email. I’d love to work with you to find a solution for your business.