What Yogi Berra Can Teach Small Business Owners About Estate Planning

According to baseball legend Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” Yogi’s one liners often make me laugh, but they also make me think. His quip reminds me of the importance of having a plan when engaging in any endeavor that will impact our personal situations beyond the immediate here and now. That includes the process of estate planning. Now, I will grant you that Yogi probably wasn’t thinking about estate planning when he offered this particular slice of wisdom. Nonetheless, his words are absolutely spot-on insofar as the importance of planning for that day which we will not live to see. As important as having an estate plan is for all of us, it is of even greater importance for the small business owner. I think it is no exaggeration to say that thoughtful estate planning is an essential component of every small business owner’s overall business plan.I think of a successful small business owner as someone who recognizes an opportunity to provide a needed product or service, and then invests the time, devotion and energy to developing and implementing a plan to seize that opportunity. I admire those thoughtful risk takers who harness their vision, business acumen and moxie in order to create, nurture and guide a sustainable business venture. I have found the small business owners I counsel to be thoughtful, deliberate and attentive to detail in how they go about the work of managing their businesses; i.e., they plan for the future. However, what I have also noticed from time to time in otherwise prudent and successful small business owners is a lack of any plan for their business when they die or are otherwise unavailable to manage it.It is easy to understand how even successful small business owners who are otherwise consummate planners might prefer to avoid estate planning as it concerns their business operation. In at least one respect, these successful business owners are a lot like most people; that is, they are not accustomed (or inclined) to ponder their own mortality. It is a subject, even if not loaded with angst, which easily lends itself to defer consideration for “another day.” Yet, the stubborn reality remains that absolutely none of us will get out of this life alive. For the small business owner, Yogi’s wise counsel merits some thought, and action.If you are a small business owner and have yet to start the estate planning process, let me suggest some relatively easy first steps to get you started. First, locate and then review your company’s organizational and governing documents. If your business is incorporated, these would include the corporate bylaws, shareholders’ agreements and those other documents your lawyers drafted when the business was getting started. If your business is a limited liability company or partnership, you will want to look at the company’s operating agreement or partnership agreement. Review these documents with the following questions in mind:- How will your death (or permanent incapacity) affect the company’s existence?- How will your successor be chosen, by whom and how much say do you presently have in that decision?- Will your death trigger a buy/sell provision by which a co-owner, or the company itself, is allowed to purchase your interest in the business, notwithstanding the wishes of your own family members?A brief review or discussion with your lawyer of questions like these may then prompt you to begin thinking about your vision for the company’s future when you are no longer able to guide it. A next step might be to consider how you would want the business operated in the event of your temporary incapacity or unavailability. A durable power of attorney will allow you (as the “principal”) to designate someone else (the “agent”) to make business decisions during your incapacity, while allowing you to retain the ability to withdraw or revoke the POA when you are ready to resume control of the business.The POA itself might serve as the genesis of a comprehensive succession plan, by which you map out a plan to reduce your own involvement in the business and allow others to assume greater management and decision making responsibilities. An orderly transition plan is apt to increase the company’s odds of survival when you are gone. And, such a plan may help you to “let go” of control and devote more efforts to mentoring those who will eventually run the business you created.Ultimately, you will want to focus your planning on what you want to happen to the business when you have died. Here, a well-designed trust agreement will allow you a great deal of flexibility, both in terms of retaining a degree of control while you are alive, and identifying your intentions with respect to the business after you die. The trust agreement enables you to select those who will administer your stated intentions when you are gone. You can, for example, provide for the sale and/or dissolution of the business over time, or provide for its eventual transfer to one or more family members. A trust agreement allows the owner a great deal of flexibility and for that reason makes it an extremely helpful tool in the business owner’s estate plan.The bottom line is that you, as the small business owner, have the ability to ensure that with careful planning the company you created will survive your passing. This is a process that can be tackled incrementally over time. Given the uncertainties of life, however, the estate planning process should become a component of your overall business plan. There is no time like the present to start this process. Don’t be lulled into putting this task off for “another day”. None of us know how much of a future we will have. Or, as Yogi puts it, “It may be getting late earlier than you thought.”© 6/16/2015 Hunt & Associates, P.C. All rights reserved.

Branding – How to Succeed – Part 5

Brand ManagementRetail BrandsPrivate LabelPrivate label products and services refer to those that are manufactured or made available by one particular company for use by another company using its own brand name. Private label products and services are, in fact, available across an extensive range of categories, from food, through to cosmetics and even as far as web hosting. It is quite common for them to be positioned at a price lower than alternative regional, national and even international brands. However, there have been recent moves to position certain private label brands as premium brands in order to compete with the existing named brands.Types of Private LabelProducts with Private Label Rights – This is a concept similar to reselling in which the buyer is allowed to alter the product in order to fit their requirements.Store Brands – In this case, the name of the retailer is clearly visible on the product packaging.Store sub-Brands – In such products, the name of the retailer is far less prominent on the product packaging.Umbrella Branding – Also known as family branding, it is a single brand which embraces a multitude of related products which can be effectively promoted using a single advertisement or campaign. Umbrella branding facilitates the launch of new products by way of a familiar brand name, which in turn can give rise to trial purchases, easier product acceptance, etc.Generic Brands – This refers to consumer products, such as supermarket goods, which can be easily identified by the fact that they have no brand name. A definitive example is that of a product simple called “Cola”. It would be incorrect to define these products as “having no brand name” since they are actually branded, albeit with either the name of the store in which they are on display or a lesser-known brand name which may not be aggressively advertised to the public. The main selling features are, in fact, their product characteristics.Individual Brands – They refer to brands in which each product within a product portfolio is given a distinctive brand name and identity.Exclusive Brands – A brand name used in one category, such as perfumes, whose role is to promote “added value” products within that category.Distributor Brands – Small wholesale grocers as well as foodservice distributors (that provide food and non-food products to restaurants, cafeterias, caterers, and hospitals) quite often have their own private labels. Examples include the Parade brand from Federated Foodservice, as well as the huge selection of private brands from the giant food service supplier Sysco. Such brands may often be found in non-chain independent restaurants together with those stores that are unable to afford their own private labeling.Copycat Private Labels – This refers to brands that are owned by a retailer but whose style of packaging mimics that of a leading national brand.Branding – How To Succeed

Essential Pointers in Ensuring Proper Baby Health Care

It brings unimaginable joy for parents to have their baby warm and bubbly finally in their hands. However, keeping baby safe, warm and healthy requires more than comfortable clothing. If you are a parent, you would want to provide your child proper baby health care. In order to do this you need sufficient knowledge about how to go about it. Here are essential pointers in ensuring that your baby receives the correct nutrition and the appropriate care that he needs.Bring your baby to the doctor regularly”Prevention is better than cure,” is an adage that still holds true today. If you want to ensure that your baby health care efforts are not rendered useless, you may want to bring your baby for regular check-ups. This would assure your baby is in good health. The doctor may recommend proper immunization shots and other preventive measures to ascertain that he stays healthy. With these constant monitoring, you are certain that sufficient baby health care management is instituted.Choose natural health care productsNatural baby health care products have less side effects and cause less allergies. A good example is to choose homemade food instead of commercially prepared products. You can obtain baby’s vitamins and essential nutrients from vegetables like carrots, potatoes, bananas, apples and oranges. The carrots will provide carotene and vitamin A, while potatoes, bananas, and apples can supply glucose for energy, vitamins and minerals. Instead of giving baby syrup for vitamin C, the oranges can take care of this need. Baby health care food items should be more of fruits and vegetables because they contain anti-toxins and phytochemicals.You will need the necessary equipment though to prepare your baby’s nutritious food into a consistency that he could eat safely. A reliable grinder or mill can help you prepare baby’s food within a few minutes. It can also be very useful when your baby starts eating meat. The grinder can produce uniform, tasty baby meals.Use natural baby health care lotions or oilsExamine the components of the skin products you use for your baby. Skin products that contain many chemicals can cause allergies and skin reactions. Purchase only products with labels that indicate natural components. There are baby health care skin products especially made to suit your baby’s skin. Be a smart and patient buyer so you can give him only the best. Lavender oil is one good product for him. It moisturizes his skin while acting as a mosquito repellant simultaneously.Take note of your allergies because most probably your baby has them too. Allergies can be transmitted from mother to child.

Your Health Care – Is It Healthy For You?

More and more people are questioning the current health care system and pointing out ways it doesn’t work. The top topics they mention usually have to do with its accessibility or its expense. Turn on any media at any time of the day or night and you’re likely to hear a lively debate about insurance companies, monthly payments and benefits.But are these even the right questions? Shouldn’t the top question be,”Is our health care system healthy for us?”Consider these facts about properly prescribed pharmaceuticals:· in the U.S. in 2011 doctors wrote 4.2 billion prescriptions – a little more than one per month for every man, woman and child;· 100,000 people die from adverse drug reactions each year;· another 200,000 per year are seriously injured from adverse reactions;· more than 4,000 people every day are admitted to hospitals due to adverse drug reactions;· properly prescribed pharmaceuticals are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.; when improperly prescribed pharmaceuticals are added, they rise to the third leading cause of death after heart attacks and cancer;· more that 50% of all medicines are not correctly prescribed, dispensed and sold;· 68 million prescriptions each year contain some sort of error.These statistics are directly about a system whose express purpose for existing is to deliver health care. Yet the people who became part of these statistics took their lives in their hands. Should accessing health care as it is now delivered actually be considered risky behavior? What is real health care, anyway?As more people ask these questions, they are finding answers that work for them. Perhaps this is why the organic food market is so robust and growing every day, and why more people consult ‘alternative practitioners’ such as herbalists, naturopaths, homeopaths, clinical nutritionists etc. when they have a health issue they want to resolve. They are looking for more than symptom suppression; they want to address causes. They are embracing evidence-based medicine (in other words, what works) rather than medical treatments based on a standard of practice set from double-blind, placebo-controlled research that can often take many years to complete – and many more years to change once established.The evidence-based approach collects information about what actually works in the clinical setting with actual people (rather than laboratory rats, for example). It is based on the fact that each element – each specific detail of what works for each person is part of a whole. For example, a headache and an infected, ingrown toenail, say, are seen as part and parcel of the same person, not two different and unrelated phenomena that should be addressed by two separate specialists, who probably don’t even talk to each other.The current medical care delivery system parcels out areas of specialty that can result in the consumer receiving recommendations and treatments that actually operate at cross purposes to each other, and then, more often than not, simply suppress or manage a symptom rather than addressing their cause(s).It’s for these reasons that more people are concluding that the Western medical approach as it’s currently constructed, is not a health care delivery system – instead it is a disease-management system.They are finding out that no insurance plan or medical benefit package is going to provide real health care. To receive that, they are stepping outside the system to consult practitioners who use a holistic, evidence-based approach.