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Small Business Insurance Basics: 10 Things You Need to Know Now

When you hear the words “business insurance,” you might think this only applies to large, established businesses. But in fact, this is an important topic for any sized business – from the largest corporations to the smallest, one-person operation and everything in between.

Whether you’re simply in the beginning stages of getting a business idea up and running, or already own an established business, it’s important to know a few basic things about how business insurance works, and what kinds you might need. Here are a few tips to get you started – or to provide you with a quick review.

1. Property Insurance – understand what it covers

Property insurance covers not only the physical structure which houses your business, but also the contents inside the structure. This could include equipment, office furniture and even inventory.

2. Liability Insurance is a must

No one likes to think about it, but getting sued is always a possibility for a business, regardless of its size. Having the proper amount of liability insurance is of the utmost importance. Liability insurance can help with expenses if your business is sued, but it can also help pay for expenses if anyone is injured due to a faulty product or service.

3. Worker’s Comp – check your state’s requirements

If your business has employees, it’s very possible that you’ll need worker’s compensation insurance. If anyone is injured on the job while working for you, worker’s compensation insurance will help pay for medical expenses. Most states require worker’s comp for all sized businesses, but be sure to check your state’s requirements to be sure that you get the proper type – and amount – of coverage.

4. Errors & Omissions

E&O Insurance is similar to Liability Insurance, but it is specifically for professional services businesses. This type of insurance can cover expenses that may be incurred due to accusations of negligence, or the failure to perform your professional services. Even if you haven’t.

5. Got employees? Consider EPLI

Employment Practices Liability Insurance applies to situations where businesses are sued for things such as discrimination, sexual harassment, or wrongful termination. At one time, these topics were only of concern to larger companies, but in today’s environment, businesses of all sizes can be subject to these types of suits. If your business has employees, it’s wise to consider adding EPLI coverage to your Business Owner’s Policy (BOP, described below).

6. Is Key Employee Insurance worth your while?

Many times, the success of a business relies on the involvement of specific employees. If one of those employees were to pass away unexpectedly, their absence could affect the profitability of the business. The beneficiary of a key employee policy is the business itself. Key Employee policies can often be requested by lenders, to meet certain credit requirements.

7. Cyber Liability Insurance is gaining in popularity

More and more business is being transacted online. And more and more data are being stored in “the cloud,” allowing for ease of access and reducing the need for companies to invest in storage or storage facilities. However, as more business is transacted electronically, the more that information is opened up to theft and hacking. Cyber Liability Insurance will help protect businesses if they experience a data breach; it will help cover costs ranging from legal expenses to public relations expenses.

8. Directors & Officers Liability Insurance is NOT the same as E&O

As the name implies, D&O insurance specifically protects the directors and officers of a company. D&O insurance protects the business, and sometimes the directors and officers themselves, in the event of legal action brought for alleged wrongful acts. While lawsuits such as these are less common in the United States, if your business operates outside the U.S. this type of coverage is definitely worth investigating further.

9. Don’t forget about the car!

If you have vehicles that are owned by your business, and are used exclusively for running your business, they won’t be covered by personal car insurance; a separate business auto insurance policy is needed. There are many types of coverage available, and auto insurance can sometimes be bundled into your Business Owner’s Policy. However, individual plans can be more easily customized.

10. Consider a BOP

A Business Owner’s Policy can be a great way to bundle common types of business insurance into one handy policy. BOPs are customizable, and can save you money since there are multiple types of coverage combined into one policy. Purchasing a BOP can also simplify the insurance process, since you’ll have just one policy, one renewal date, and one premium payment to deal with. While combining policies can be extremely convenient, it should only be done if you can truly have all of your insurance needs met by one product. If your business is of an unusual nature, or you have specific insurance needs, it might be best to still consider individual policies. Working with a trusted insurance agent or broker will help you ensure you’re getting all of your business insurance needs taken care of.

Characteristics of a Successful Business – M&A Transactions

Many businesses fall short of their potential valuation or maximum sale price. While there is no such thing as a perfect business without flaws or challenges, the businesses which sell at the top of the valuation range or command the highest multiple embody a number of common characteristics.

1. Increasing revenue/profits. Cash is the fuel of business. Businesses that have strong financials with year over year growth in revenue and profits will be in demand and should achieve an attractive valuation.

2. Clean Books. Having accurate, detailed, up-to-date and professionally prepared financial statements and records is one of the most critical components to a successful business sale.

3. Bright prospects for future. Businesses that operate in an industry that has a strong outlook for continued growth in the years ahead will be highly sought after.

4. No customer concentration. A business that has a diverse and broad customer base will have a lower risk that the loss of any one customer will have a material impact on the revenue and profits of the business.

5. Multiple vendors. Companies with a diversified product and/or service offering with a deep bench of suppliers and partners will be a less risky acquisition than a company who is dependent on only one manufacturer or service provider to generate income.

6. Stable work force. Having a loyal and content work force with long term employees is always a positive attribute for a buyer seeking to acquire a privately held business.

7. Established Processes. A business that has written procedures detailing work flow and operational processes provides greater continuity during a business transfer of ownership.

8. Owner not the business. Companies where the owner lends their expertise by working “on” the business vs. “in” the business are less likely to experience a loss of revenue during a sale. Owners who have become the face of the business where they are one of the chief reasons for customers using their products or services create challenges for the new owner in retaining these loyal clients.

9. Business qualifies for acquisition funding. A business for sale that meets the qualifications for acquisition funding by a bank or SBA backed lender will benefit from their ability to be marketed to a wider audience. Certain issues prevent 3rd party financing from being secured including poor financial performance or messy books with unreported cash and questionable add-backs.

10. Professional Advisors. Successful business sales require a team of professional advisors who are experts in their designated field. Members should include an experienced M&A advisor or business broker, a business attorney who specializes in transactions, and a CPA knowledgeable about tax structuring and asset allocation. Experienced advisors are worth their weight in gold and will add value that far exceeds the fees involved.

Small business ownership involves some level of risk. The price a business is valued at should reflect the degree of risk. While the element of risk can never be eliminated from small business ownership, the ten characteristics detailed above should mitigate many of the issues that cause concern for buyers when pursuing an acquisition. This in turn will enable the business value and sale price to be maximized.

5 Ways of How to Destroy a Business Partnership: Don’t Start That New Business Until You Read This

Let any one of these 5 situations into your business and you’ll ravage your entrepreneurial career:

1st – Stop needing each other:

There’s a considerable chance that the partnership power and responsibility structure will start to shift and will look very different starting anywhere from 3-12 months after inception.

In the beginning of any new venture, a dynamic and compelling new venture phenomenon, made up of fear, anxiety, stress and excitement, emerges and makes for an impressive personal barrier disintegrator. No facades and no charades are the hallmark of a new venture. The partners forget about their own needs and are on their best behavior. Everyone is madly in “love.”

“Needing each other” is a compelling power source in successful business partnerships. In most partnerships that “need” is the bond that keeps it all together. As time passes, especially after the 12th month of being in business, everything and everyone starts to shift, evolve and a displacement arises that will be unsettling and transformative for the business and all the players.

See #4 for more information on “not needing each other”

Solution: Accept the fact that the above information is valid. Discuss it openly with your business partners. Be vigilant and sensitive to your business partners and what they say and do and how they say it and do it. You don’t have to be “a touchy feely kinda person.” Think selfishly. Think protection for your future. Think protection for your business’ future. Communicating, openly and civilly, is the only preventive measure that will increase the chance for a favorable outcome.

2nd- Allow your significant other to point out all the expensive gifts your partner’s significant other is receiving and they’re not:

Significant others, and other family members, can be the source of great pain and distress when it comes to the relationship you have with your business partner.

Greed, jealousy, being overcritical, being generally resentful, tactless and being superficial are some of the flies swimming around in the business partnership ointment. Money and power sometimes brings out the worst in “significant others” and family.

Solution: There’s two parts to the solution:

a-It’s the smart business person who pays extreme attention to the health and tone of his business partnership. It should be the number one concern, above and beyond anyone else in your life. I know I’ll get a lot of Boos and Hisses but, if you take care of your business and the business partnership, it will always take care of you and the people you love and who love you. Everyone will be happy and satisfied.

b- Going to, or inviting in, a counsellor or therapist to meet privately once a month, individually and aggregately, with the business partners will always be money well spent. I’ve seen the wreckage that family members have created in some very successful businesses.

You will have partnership strife and discord. Bet on it. Prepare for it now and have the preventive and supportive resources at the ready and/or in play from the beginning. It will be a shame if one day you’re standing outside your padlocked office wondering what happened.

3rd – Have sexual relations with a family member of your business partner:

I “feel” the smirks already. Talk about destruction. This is an insidious act of extreme betrayal. It not only will leave your business ripped apart, it will destroy precious family and personal relationships. People will be crushed and devastated for a lifetime.

The reputations of all the partners will be tainted. You’ll be amazed and appalled at the same time to find out how many suppliers, banks and customers will turn their back on you. They know that with a soiled and stained situation like this, destruction and failure may be close by. No one wants to be part of this, especially if it hurts them financially. Something many people take for granted is that It takes years to build a reputation that’s respected and trusted. It takes 24 hours or less to blow it up.

Are you are going to make your bed and Lie in it, or not?

Solution: If you’re over 18, take a wild guess. Under 18? Talk to someone over 18.

4th – Do some self-talk about how you deserve more money than your business partner:

“I’m working so much harder than her.” “He was supposed to be the sales end of our business but…” “Our biggest customer can’t stand her.” “He can’t handle the pressure.” “I never realized how much she talks.” Do I need to go on? You may recognize one of these.

In the beginning of a new venture there’s “reality” and there’s “wishful and well-intentioned thinking.” The responsibilities and strengths that you bring to the new venture are not necessarily the responsibilities and strengths that will be in play when things get started and are rolling along.

Being aware of each partner’s powerful strengths and their ‘vulnerabilities’ will allow weekly partner meetings to be productive and allow for everyone to be open, honest and transparent. Staying flexible and being willing to adapt, not only leads to a sustainable business but what’s more exciting is, it leads to personal growth for all the partners.

Solution: There’s 3 parts to the solution.

a-Mandate, enforce and re-enforce up close and personal, respectful and empathetic communication meetings on, at least, a weekly basis. These meetings are confined to the partners only and are done behind locked and closed doors. Bring in food. Do not go to a public place to talk.

b- There are always 3 realities: Yours, theirs and the business’ reality. Work with the reality of the business only and adjust your life to the needs of the business. I repeat, make your business the priority above and beyond all others and the “others” will have a phenomenal life.

c- Accept as fact, that you may have to change your place and responsibilities in the business as time passes. Welcome it with open arms. If you have a problem with this I say, respectfully, get a therapist as soon as possible. Your reluctance is connected to, and about, ego, self-image and self-confidence. It pays to have someone help you disentangle your emotions and consequently save your entrepreneurial career.

5th -Start the new venture on a 50/50 ownership platform:

If you’re forced to initiate an equal stock partnership, then having or learning patience, empathy, and anger management becomes even more crucial and essential than ever before. A 50/50 is fine until the “cracks” start to appear. If you don’t follow the advice in step #4, it could be the beginning of the end for everyone.

Some interesting points:

a-In a partnership breakup your net worth is never, I repeat, never what you think it is. It’s always much less.

b-Banks, customers, suppliers and even employees will scatter when they get a whiff of bad news on the horizon. Your net worth could entirely dissipate in the time it takes you to say “Wait, I changed my mind.”

c-Make the partnership agreement as simple as possible (two pages is good) or you’ll find that the lawyers will make more than you.

d-You could make a 51/49 % stock ownership with a 50/50 % profit split. It’s worth it to give up more on the profit split in order to get 51% ownership of the company. In any event, no matter what you decide it’s always wise to have salaries, expenses and benefits remain equal.

Solution: See the solution in step #4

“Now go with your eyes wide open”… Good Luck out there.

A Personal Note:

I’ll be accused of being negative and shortsighted. My response: That’s Crap. This is reality. This is life. It’s raw, pure, up close and certainly personal.

You don’t like the article? I understand. The truth and reality have a way of making people feel uncomfortable.

Just do me one favor. Print it and put it in a drawer, in a sealed envelope. Open it 12 months to the day that you started your business. If I was right you unfortunately learned a valuable lesson and if your verdict is that I was wrong, please take a closer look and search for cracks in the partnership relationship. You may be in the “subtle stage.”

Partnerships are great when they’re solid and built on mutual respect. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. This article is about possibilities that you must be aware of and in tune with. Consider this article a practice “fire drill.” Adapt now, because when the flames start to roar, it’s too late.

This article is about coating your business relationship with empathy. It’s about knowing that you’re not only responsible for your welfare and performance, but you’re also responsible for your business partners state of being. I’m not advocating that you become super-parent. I’m advocating for you, and this article is all about your protection and your financial and mental well-being.

Once again. Good luck out there and never, ever give up on your dreams.