Generations Law June 2019

The Business Brief

June 2019

Crisis Succession Planning

A Troubling Tale of Two Small Businesses

For most of us, we spend our entire lives trying to make something of ourselves. We pour our hearts and our time into our businesses day after day, year after year. Then, somewhere along the way, some of the most important aspects of our journey get lost in the fray. We forget about the fragility of it all. That’s why we stress the importance of crisis succession planning to our clients. The bottom line is that crisis planning should be dealt with up front when you’re starting a business. Here at Generations Law Group, we want your business to succeed for years to come, and that means putting the proper precautions into place to ensure its prosperity if anything happens to you. Nobody wants to think about the end of life, but it’s a necessary conversation to have before it’s too late. Unfortunately, we know all too well what the results can look like if you don’t take the appropriate measures to ensure your business falls into capable hands. Every business should have two succession plans: a crisis succession strategy and an orderly succession strategy. Within the last year, we took on two cases involving business owners who died unexpectedly without ownership and management succession plans. These events put both businesses into a crisis mode. One business was able to cope with the crisis without serious financial repercussions because it had a qualified manager in place, but the other

business almost failed because it didn’t have anyone to take over management. This is why we always advise our clients to develop both types of succession plans. It’s not easy to hand over the reins — for many business owners it’s the last thing they can fathom — but you need to think about the practical future for your business. When a crisis isn’t properly accounted for, it can get messy. One of the companies mentioned above didn’t have a crisis management plan in place, and it almost resulted in the end of the company. Regarding ownership succession, neither company had a plan. Thus, under Idaho law, each business passed to the deceased owner’s heirs. One of the businesses passed to a teenager who was barely out of high school. While he showed great regret in not being able to carry on the brand, he simply didn’t have the life experience or skill set to carry on the operations. After all, he hadn’t even had a chance to go to college yet. Eventually, with a lot of hard work, we were able to help sell the business. But what this event drove home is how often this sort of thing can happen. When running the business is left to a next of kin, we can help build a management team around them so the business won’t be hung out to dry. This is not the legacy most business owners have in mind. With a proper plan in place, this can all be avoided.

The ugly truth is that an orderly succession plan doesn’t happen overnight. It typically takes anywhere from 3–8 years to get all the pieces into place and qualify the successors. You need to buckle down, have the hard conversations, and find out who is the most capable and practical for the position. The most difficult thing, even more so than an unexpected crisis, is finding out what our clients are going to do after they retire. Many small business owners haven’t really thought about life after the business. Figuring out what they’ll do every day turns out to be a real challenge in most cases. You need to have a serious talk with yourself about what the practical future of your company looks like, no matter how hard it may be . When you’re ready, we’d love to be there to lend a hand. To find out what we can do for you here at Generations Law Group, give us a call today at (208) 401-9300 or visit our website anytime at

–Tom Walker



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'INFLUENCE' A Roadmap to Closing Deals

The average businessperson reads and composes more than 120 emails every day, but there’s an overwhelming amount of business emails that seem to be written with no apparent regard for the reader. A massive chunk of people’s workday is wasted wading through irrelevant, unclear, or incomprehensible messages. To remedy this issue, it’s vital to understand the keys to effective online communication, both to stem the tide of annoying and unnecessary emails and to protect your reputation as a professional. Here are three rules for effective email communication. Don’t Be ‘That Guy’ THE 3 CARDINAL RULES OF EFFECTIVE EMAIL COMMUNICATION When your message is sitting in an inbox packed with dozens of others, it’s essential to respect your reader’s time. Make the contents of the message clear from a glance at the subject line. Your subject line is what will draw the attention of the recipient — or lead them to skip over it altogether — so be specific and relevant. In the body of the email, your reason for emailing, as well as all the important points, should be immediately clear. Keep it as concise and as transparent as possible. 1. TIGHTEN IT UP. Many professionals assume that the need for brevity means they can get away with short, robotic missives. Managers are especially guilty of this, sending out single-sentence messages in all lowercase letters with nary an emotion. We get it; you’re busy. But it’s worth taking an extra moment of your time to craft an email that carries the human element as well. It’s important to take a professional tone and to keep communication brief, but you can still write, to some degree, like you talk. This will show recipients that you take communicating with them seriously. Again, you’re busy, and you’ve got to prioritize your work, but consistently ignoring emails is a clear sign of negligence and will make you unpopular among your coworkers. If you don’t have time to think of a clear answer, a simple confirmation that you received the message goes a long way. While you can safely ignore all those companywide filler emails you receive each week, you need to show your coworkers and contacts that you’re willing to put in a little effort and that you’re on top of your responsibilities. 3. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, REPLY TO THE EMAILS YOU RECEIVE. 2. WRITE LIKE A HUMAN BEING.

Business majors and longtime entrepreneurs will be very familiar with this work. And in an age when many shiny new theories on leadership and personal development come out every year, it’s refreshing to revisit a classic that has stood the test of time. Thirty-five years after its original publication, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” should still be required reading for marketers, small- business owners, and anyone else looking to improve their negotiation skills. Written by Dr. Robert Cialdini, “Influence” explores why people say yes. A professor of business and psychology, Dr. Cialdini is uniquely qualified to tackle this question, combining scientific data with practical applications. “Influence” is still a subject of praise, with marketing research groups and journals of psychology lauding the book as a “proverbial gold mine.” You don’t have to get too far into “Influence” to see why. Dr. Cialdini lays out six “universal principles” of the human psyche. These include “Reciprocity,” our tendency to want to return perceived kindness or concessions; “Commitment and Consistency,” our tendency to cling to past decisions; and “Scarcity,” our tendency to assign value to things based on their rarity. While these may sound like surface level business concepts, the way Dr. Cialdini uses these principles as a launching point gives “Influence” value. With each principle, the author dives into examples of how these psychological elements can be used by you or against you in any negotiation. Take “Commitment and Consistency” for example. If you are able to get a person to agree with you on several small points, you lay the groundwork for them to agree with you in the future. Conversely, you can be more alert when people try to use this tactic on you. One of the most powerful results of reading “Influence” is that it helps you recognize behaviors you yourself were unaware of. Indeed, that’s the whole underlying thesis of Dr. Cialdini’s work: As social creatures, we all have habitual behaviors geared towards finding common ground with others. Once you are aware of these behaviors, you’ll begin to see conversations and negotiations in a whole new light.



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Defeating the Summer Slump

3 Ways to Keep Up Productivity During the Summer


HAVE A Laugh Sitting at a desk for eight continuous hours can stagnate productivity at any point during the year, but during the summer, there’s an easy way to remedy it: getting a little exercise. Since the sun is shining, why not take advantage of it while you work? Try scheduling a “walking meeting” outside, or implement exercise breaks every couple of hours. Moving around boosts productivity, and doing it outside can be a great change of scenery. June 21 marks the official beginning of summer and the productivity slump most businesses experience. The sun’s tantalizing rays draw your eyes from computer screens or conference room meetings to the outside world. A weekend of fresh air, sunshine, and cool evenings on the back porch infiltrate your mind. Your productivity is sapped, but you’ve still got work to do. So, what can you do? Here are a few ways to combat the summer slump. If you’re in a management position, consider tweaking the standard 9-to-5, Monday through Friday schedule a little bit. Some businesses will implement a 9/80 schedule, meaning employees work 80 hours in nine days instead of 10, so they can get every other Friday off. Some businesses will let employees work half days on Fridays during the summer, and others will let employees work remotely on certain days. RELAX THE WORK HOURS GET MOVING

If shirts and ties are the norm at your business, you might want to consider embracing the laid-back vibe of summer by relaxing the dress code a bit. It’s a small way to ensure employees don’t feel like they’re missing out on all the perks of summertime without losing productivity. Plus, who wants to wear a suit in July? It’s tough to compete with the allure of a warm summer day, but sometimes those days can work to your advantage if you make a few simple swaps in your everyday work routine.




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Inside This Edition


The 3 Cardinal Rules of Effective Email Communication The Importance of a Proper Crisis Succession Plan


'Influence' and the Psychology of Yes


3 Ways to Keep Up Productivity During the Summer

Have a Laugh


Become a Pillar in Your Community

Make a Positive Impact 3 Strategies for Genuine Community Involvement Even if most of your clients are located in other parts of the globe, the place your business calls home is a huge part of your identity. When a company makes a point to get involved locally, it’s doing more than making new connections and getting its brand out there — it’s also making a positive impact on the place it calls home. Most companies experience a slowdown in the summer. Here are some strategies to take advantage of that lull and create a plan for your business to get involved in the community and be a good neighbor. Every town boasts its share of charities and nonprofits looking to make a difference. Find a cause you believe in, then help out. This could mean donating a portion of your revenue to a local women’s shelter, volunteering as a company at the soup kitchen, or sponsoring a gala that raises money for a children’s hospital. Supporting charities demonstrates your values and attracts the kinds of customers who share them. SUPPORT A LOCAL CHARITY


This sounds unconventional, but sometimes it pays to think outside the box. Most towns put on a Fourth of July parade in the summer, so why not join in? Building a float could be a great team-building exercise, and a lot of people will turn up and see your mobile advertisement in the parade. Being in the parade shows that you’re part of the community, and when you top it all off by tossing candy to the kids, you’ll really make an impact. Your company could donate school supplies or even sponsor a program. Art and music programs are often the first to suffer from budget cuts, so support from a local business could make a huge difference. Donate art supplies to the classroom, sponsor high school theater productions, or offer scholarships to help young musicians pay for new instruments. Keep the arts alive by helping the kids in your community do what they love. These suggestions require time and resources to pull off, but making the effort can transform your company from just another business in a sea of many to a pillar in your community. WORK WITH LOCAL SCHOOLS



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