What seats do you have at your planning table? What seats might you need that you don’t have? What roles do you need your advisors to play to help grow and protect your business?
These are probably not questions you lay awake asking yourself each night. Very few of us intentionally plan out our advisory team, unless there is a forcing mechanism (sale, succession, catastrophic event) that leads us to do so. This means that we usually end up falling into an advice team over time, by circumstance, which may or may not be in the best interest of our business. Establishing your Core Team in an intentional and thoughtful way can help you stay ahead of the issues you might face and be better prepared for the surprises that will inevitably come.
There are four roles that typically will make up your Core Team:
1. Consultant/Coach – This is the person who leads your strategic planning and organizational development. They will have insights and advice related to your strategic direction, team member development and forward-looking growth plans.
2. Attorney – We all likely have interacted with multiple attorneys while in business. This team member, however, needs to be someone well versed in business planning issues and has a core competency in that area. You may need a litigation attorney for certain issues, but not here! The right attorney will have insights on succession planning, contingency planning, and mergers/acquisitions.
3. Accountant/Tax Consultant – You need an accountant on your team who can speak to specific financial management issues as well as big picture strategy. Typically, this will be a CPA who has a high-level view into the financial management of the business. They will have insights on prudent financial management strategies, valuation issues and succession planning.
4. Financial Advisor – Your financial advisor should be well versed in working with business owners and executive teams, and ideally works on a fee-basis rather than one who gets paid for selling products. Your advisor can add unique insight into your personal financial situation and how it integrates with your business, can speak into your exit planning strategy and provide solutions for contingency planning and executive team benefits.
The final piece to your Core Team is that one of your advisors must be designated as the quarterback. This team member should organize meetings, provide team accountability, lead meetings, and help prioritize planning needs. Many times, the quarterback of the team defaults to being whoever the business owners most trusted advisor is. This is not always the best solution. The quarterback must be someone equipped and willing to lead your team of advisors and guide them to working on what is best for you. Lack of execution is a common problem for planning teams, so it is key to have someone driving the solutions and pushing forward on the most important planning items.
So you have established your Core Team, and you have a structure in place that is set up for consistent execution; what do you do when you encounter issues outside the core competency of your team? That is where the Virtual Team comes into play…Stay tuned for part 3!
Garry North, CFP®