Business Succession Planning

Many business people spent all of their productive years building their businesses from scratch, hoping that one day, they could pass them on to their next generation. Most often than not, when the businesses become successful, many business owners are clueless as to how to pass the baton to their successors!

Quoted here are a few common scenarios which could give rise to complications, in the absence of a proper Business Succession Planning :

#1 The candidates are too young;
#2 Grown-up children are not interested in the business
#3 The children are residing in different countries
#4 Afraid of squandering heirs
#5 Unable to identify a successor
#6 High potential of further fragmentation of shareholdings when it goes to the cousins (children of current shareholders), in a family business set-up.
#7 Do not have any Shareholders Agreement, Corporate Will or Buy-Sell Agreement.

I trust that the best time to plan is when everyone is happy, and the sea is warm and calm. This is THE time to discuss details and reach a consensus. Once the plan is set in force, the next course of actions would be to monitor and having periodical reviews to keep the succession plan relevant as years go by.

When you are busy building your empire, remember also to allocate some time to make plans for the future of the business and YOU. I’m sure, you would want to retire one day and having an exit strategy will ensure that you could do so when the time comes.

There is no right or wrong timing when it comes to initiating a Business Succession Planning. Like the famous saying goes, “Don’t fail to plan or you’ll plan to fail”. If you do not have a plan in place, when there is a dispute, the law may step in to decide on an action plan for you. The final decision may seem to be equitable but may not be fair to all concerned.

I believe that no one, in their right frame if mind, would want to see the fruit of their hard labour turned into something of a court fight one day. By then, the harmony of a good relationship amongst the shareholders and families will be destroyed, replaced by feelings of hostility and resentment.

Having said that, it is most vital to put your Business Succession Planning into your “Actions Required” list. Then you’ll have peace of mind to focus on running your business and mentoring the identified successors. Wouldn’t that be a preferable exit for you and all concerned?

~Alice N.

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Quality vs Quantity Time

Earlier today, I told my teenage son that I felt guilty for not been spending enough time with his sister these couple of months. I would be home in most mornings with him than in the afternoon with the sister, as I would either go to the office to do some works or meeting clients. To which he quickly replied, it is fair, because I had been away in most mornings for the first several months this year and now it is his turn to enjoy my company!

I had read books in the past, where they gave different views in respect of quality vs quantity time for children. This issue usually applies to both working parents in the family. Many writers said that it is alright because you can make it up to the children with “quality” time. Most adults would agree when you could differentiate between the two. However, do not be surprised when it comes to children’s perspective, they don’t bother about quality; to them, quantity means quality. In their minds, they are counting the number of hours you spent with them everyday, not how well you plan your time together during those weekends when you are home, or where you take them for holidays once or twice a year.

“Quality time” as defined by my teenage son : as long as I am with him, he feels happy enough, even though I could be in my study doing some paperwork and he, in another room or merely sending him to his co-curricular activities. He told me that he doesn’t necessarily need me to sit with him or do things with him all the time, in order to feel my presence.

When I asked the same question to my tween daughter, she said that she would prefer to have me at home more (the same). Also, she wants me to sit at the same table doing my work while she does her school work. After she has completed her school work, she would like me to go for a walk or to play with her. This is the definition of “quality time” by my daughter.

Two different behaviour but with so much similarity, isn’t it? To sum it up, to children, Quality = Quantity time. So, when some parents said that kids don’t care how high quality time you spend with them, they are right! It’s worth paying attention to it.

I know time is never enough to complete our tasks in a day. Like I used to comment before, “if we can complete everything in a day, with nothing to be carried forward to another day, I guess our purpose on earth has come to an end. There’s nothing for us to look forward to”. There will always be something incomplete for us to continue the next day. Our life activities run on circle. I think the only time everything stops is when our heart stops beating and our brain stops working.

We really have no choice but to make the most out of our time. We need to provide some time for our children in the beginning or at end of our tiring day. Not to worry, once they grow up, they’ll need lesser of your time, if not at all. I feel that it is important to be there for them as they grow up and I’m sure you all know why.

Have a great weekend and chat more with one another face to face, instead of using hi-tech gadgets. My colleague always says, “High Touch is always better than Hi-Tech”. He’s referring to communication amongst human beings – the old fashion way still works better. I concur with his statement.

Law of Attraction

What do we know about the Law of Attraction? Many people, including me, have read the book entitled “The Secret – Rhonda Byrne“. “The Secret book reveals how you can change every aspect of your life. You can turn any weakness or suffering into strength, power, unlimited abundance, health and joy“.

MONEY is magnetic energy. You are a magnet attracting to you all things, via the signal you are emitting through your thoughts and feelings“. Oh yes, I would love to be a money magnet, but what I learnt growing up is to work for it. Only after you’ve accumulated enough, can you use it to create more passive income opportunities. The point is, I must work first to generate income. I tried the money magnet way but it did not attract the dollar notes to me! Instead, I discovered that by thinking positively, I do not give up so easily. If my first attempt on something didn’t quite work out, I would analyse and find alternatives. Another thing to note is that by strongly and solely believing in the Law of Attraction, we might set too high an expectation on something which we have no control over, end up feeling disappointed.

RELATIONSHIPS can be completely transformed, no matter what it’s like right now“. On that score, I would say that if we look at the good side of things or persons, we would see beauty, love and good values. We would in turn be more generous and forgiving. We shall not be selfish, petty or arguing over small issues because we choose to look at the Big Picture through loving and kind eyes. When we are optimistic, we’d be more confident and cheerful. That quality makes us more attractive to our partners. Besides, it also makes our company more pleasurable.

“Concerned about your HEALTH? Explore ways to open yourself up and become a powerful magnet to wellness and health starting from wherever you are now.” This, I trust, talked about Miracles. First thing first, when our bodies are still young and strong, we need to feed them with the right food, exercise and give them timely rests. We must treat our bodies tenderly and with love so that it can carry us through many more years. After all, it is one unique machine we have close to our heart and soul, which makes our lives normal and productive. However, if life must have it, and we end up falling sick, we need to apply the Law of Attraction for Hope. Many dread diseases survivors shared their success stories in books and seminars, saying that, besides medical treatment, what contributed most to their recovery was the power of their minds – mind being the healing power.

By empowering their mind to heal, it gives them high hope and strength to fight to win over the disease. They have this strong urge to live, to see their dreams realized. They are not ready to throw in the towel yet. It is amazing to know that people who were initially given just weeks or months to live, had later been given a clean bill of health miraculously! Many of them are still living to these days!

What I’ve just shared here is purely my personal thoughts and some experimental experience. Different people perceive differently and thus, will have different experience and story to tell. However, if you have great experience from the Law of Attraction, please share them with us. I would love to know more.

To sum it up, positive thinking makes your mind stronger and provides the extra energy you need to make things work out for you. Yes, you Still need to put in effort to make it work. We can’t just chant for what we wish for, laze around, and then expect results. You know…there are times when having an overdose of optimism can be very exhausting. To maintain the UP spirit at all time, can drain energy out of your body. If you ever need a break from it, take it. It is okay to allow a bit of pessimism to sneak in once in a while. It might be your small voice which caution you against something. Pessimism has it’s role here. It does the checks and balances, like an auditor’s job. This is to ensure that we don’t dismiss what is real for what we want to believe to be real (like in a state of denial).

Finally, when you have successfully attracted the Goodness of the Universe, will you be ready to receive it with open arms? Don’t laugh….some people just don’t see it coming and therefore, chased it away! So here, I put it to you to use your best judgement when you are faced with all sorts of challenges in your life journey. Think positive, open up your heart and mind, and cherish every moment of it.

I leave you with these thoughts for the weekend. Enjoy your weekend!

~ Alice N.

Look straight into my eyes…

Are we learning the right stuffs today? What do we learn from everything that’s happening around us? At home, at school, on the street, in our neighbourhood, from the media and around the world…

We tirelessly teaching our children to do the right thing, say the right words, to admit when we are wrong and to have a forgiving heart to those who are innocent and ignorant. Parents with the right frame of mind would preach all those, if not more, to our young children hoping that they’ll grow up to become someone responsible with great conscience.

For parents, it would be dreams come true when our children could differentiate between good and bad; and act responsibly. Since young we were taught that ” Honesty Is The Best Policy “. But, are we adults, being the role models to our children, do as we preach?

Children these days are very smart. They are like fresh recorder and camcorder, able to replay what you had taught them as opposed to what they see you just did. If we make excuses for our wrongdoings, aren’t we sending mixed messages to them, like, I can do it but you can’t. Or, only adults are allowed to break or bend rules…AHA! So, once they become adults, they get the license to bend or break rules too?

Watch yourself when you say something, do or not do anything, around the children. When we thought they aren’t looking or listening, they are actually paying attention. Children are always fascinated by adults’ speech and action. They will not hesitate to question you when they see or hear something that is unacceptable to them. Then, you must be ready with valid answers. So, when we tell them to be honest, we must also show that we can do it and live with it.

Some of you may ask, what about “white lies”? If it is to protect a person, depending on the situation, I guess, white lies might be allowable? Someone told me that not all questions need to be answered. In this case, we may choose a non-committal position by not giving any affirmation, when confronted with a chance to tell a white lie. No one can force you to do otherwise. If, however, you inevitably did that in front of the children and they know what’s going on, I think you just owe them an explanation.

If you preach Honesty, first be honest to yourself, then to people around you. Remember the story about the boy who cried “Wolf”? Once or twice, people will still believe you, but once too many times, no one will be able to trust what you say or do next time. As I’ve always told my children, when you try to lie, the one most important person you lied worst to is Yourself! And, once you feel comfortable lying, you tend to believe in your own lies and start treating them as true. Following that, you will not be able to differentiate between truth and lies anymore!

Lastly, being honest means you don’t have to carry a heavy burden of guilt around you. Guilt can suck the life out of you, if you are not careful. That’s why people with clear conscience will always be happier people. They can taste what they eat, they can sleep like a log and they don’t have to always look over their shoulders guiltily.

So, Honesty is still the Best Policy!

~ Alice N.

It’s All in Your Mind.

Recently, I received quite a number of health-related emails from friends. You are what you eat, manage your stress before it’s too late, see the doctor – early detection saves lives, go organic, etc.

There is this ongoing dispute on wealth vs health. People said that if you don’t have money to put food on the table, what health are you talking about?! Hmmmm…..make sense. Another side of people said if you have money, so what, you are so ill that you can’t enjoy even a single cent of it. Hmmmm….also true!

Having said that, am I allowed to choose the middle path? Yes, I recognize that we need money to keep our lives normal, but while doing that, I also watch what I eat as much as I possibly can (I do sometimes indulge in my fave ice-cream, creme brulee, cheese cakes, Goreng Pisang, nyonya kuih, etc); Pay attention to how my body responds to certain food (too spicy food, these days, give me heart burn, esp during late dinner); how my body changes – due to age (can’t lift heavy stuffs due to my tennis elbows, can’t sit/stand for too long or they give me acute back-ache).

When I feel the slightest change to my body, which gives me the nagging feeling, I’d seek out my doctor for advice. I truly believe that when you listen closely to your body, you might feel small changes which is out of norm. It would usually give you tell-tale sign of it’s condition. You may say that I’m over-acting, but I do what is best to be healthy, so that i can take great care of myself and my family. Being sick is not an option especially when you have a young family and when they need you to be there, 24/7. Another important reason why I keep myself well is for that one day, when I no longer need this body, I sure hope that parts of it would be able to save others’ lives.

Most of us, especially when we are so busy tackling our daily work issues, we are quick to dismiss any signs given out by our exhausted body. We don’t give rest to our mind and body. We do not give them peace and calmness for the break which they needed most. Sadly, we continue to abuse our once strong body when we are quite aware of it’s weakening condition. One after another ailments start popping up. When you see these signs, I would urge you to pause for a while and think for a minute (not going to take much time anyway) what you could do NOW to make it better.

Does it need a break to recharge so that you can come back refreshed and with renewed energy to tackle issues more efficiently? Does it have to do with your diet – which you need to make a slight change to gain a big difference? Does it need exercise – make time for it, 30 minutes of cardio exercise a day is good enough if you don’t have much time to spare. When you have the will, you’ll find a way to achieve it. It would not make any difference to have an impressive plan but no action.

It is time to beat the laziness and no-time attitude in your bones and mind. Start on the ACTION – Right Here, Right Now.

Cheers to a healthier YOU!

~ Alice N.

Your 13 is not My 13….

It’s about AGE actually. I’m sure we’ve heard more than enough of such remark, referring to a teenager’s 13 years of age today is not the same as his/her parents’ 13 years of age, decades back. The landscape of our lives has been constantly changing, from the days of boxed TV to today’s LED HD TV, from brick-like handphone to light and slim smartphones, from a mini computer to iPad2, from few hours black and white TV programmes with two channels then to colourful 24 hours multiple channels today, from writing diaries to writing blogs, etc.

A scene from our teenagers’ lives today : Everyone older would tell you that he/she had gone through your growing pains before. Before you retort that their younger days were different from yours, read on. In my opinion, the emotional journey has always been the same. Let me demonstrate a few examples : When your BFF said something carelessly, you’ll feel hurt and upset, isn’t it? When you like another person, you feel happy talking endlessly with him/her. There are times when you feel that your elder siblings are out to bully you and your younger ones are pests, always get you into trouble with parents, don’t you? You might also think that you are weird, and have a weird family. You are moody but don’t quite know why. You secretly wish to be popular in class or school. If you are popular, you wish people would just get off your back and leave you alone. Mostly, you complain that your parents can’t understand you at all.

Would you believe that I had gone through most of that when I was at that age? I must admit that my 13 was not as complicated as yours today. Peer pressure wasn’t so bad then. We didn’t have extra distractions like cellphone, Facebook, YouTube, internet, Worldwide 24-hour TV shows. Our after-school activities were much lesser as compared to today; you have a string of tutorials, skill development activities, loads of homework, leaving less time for outdoor games and sports with friends and family members. We spent more time outdoor than indoor then, which is a reverse today. We used to play police and thieves, “congkak” made of wood or we dug up holes on the ground to play the game, whilst the boys would play with marbles, tops, “lastik”, hand-made kites, lanterns made out of condensed milk tin or milo tin, fishing with self-made rods by the river, climbing trees, etc. Some of these may sound foreign to you. Today’s 13 year olds play with their PSP, iPad, iPhone, on-line games, spending lots of time on Facebook, YouTube, tumblr.

Deep down in our hearts, we are the same 13. What makes us different is just the time zone and the environment we are exposed to. We need to recognise such differences before we can move forward to having more open and honest discussions with each other. Teenagers may treat your parents as your friends when it comes to sharing your emotional issues. You know very well that your parents won’t laugh or judge you. Nor do you need to speak or act to impress them. You are after all, their beloved child and they only wish for the best to you.

Seek to understand then be understood (7 Habits – Stephen Covey). Try to see things from your parents’ perspective too. Take for instance, if your parents do not allow you to go to the mall, they have their reasons. Find out why and try to understand their fear. I’m sure most issues blew up because of lacked understanding. People get mad, upset and hurt mostly because they do not understand the actual situation. Many misunderstandings can be avoided when we can explain well and clearly to the next person.

As for parents, do recognise also, time has changed and technically, today’s 13 has its own challenges and degree of complications, which may be foreign to some parents. Do listen with an open mind and stay relevant, to encourage your teenagers to talk more often with you. If you provide a good platform for them to voice their thoughts, there is no other reason for them to turn to someone else or to feel lonely and sad in this world.

Having said that, shouldn’t we start the ball rolling by respecting each other’s points of view? I’m sure we can find ways and means to bridge those differences. When the situation calls for parents to be teenagers’ friends, be their buddies. Conversely, when a situation calls for a parent to be a parent, do it. Parents need not go all out, trying hard to be your teenagers’ buddies. Let me elaborate : when our teenagers need an emphatic ear, listen patiently and from your heart, feel behind those words. When they seek guidance or advice, be their life coach (more on “life coach” in my past post).

Another important point for parents : Always be there for your teenagers when they need you. Know where they are and who they are with. Get to know their friends too. Trust me, it’s worth every single second spent with them. For my dear teenagers, please don’t assume that your parents are always busy, when they appear to be busy. Ask to speak with them and tell how important it is to you to be heard. Don’t be quick to dismiss when you see your parents are engrossed in something. If it is very important, you may interrupt. If not, you can ask for the right time and come back to talk about it.

Remember, it takes two to make your lives simpler and happier. Work on it. Talk about it, K? Always remember you don’t have to be lonely, if you choose not to.

~ Alice N.