The Risks–and Rewards–of Being Your Brand

Couple standing in front of organic food store smiling

My husband, a small business owner, and I met with a lawyer recently about our last will and testament. The lawyer, an acquaintance of ours, asked: “What’s the business worth?”

Brian gave a seven-figure number – three times his tech business’ yearly revenue.

“And would that be the same if you weren’t there?” asked the attorney.

Pause.

“No, definitely not,” replied Brian.

It was then that I realized that Brian wasn’t just a creative partner. He was the business.

The Hard Work of Being a Brand

I knew the value Brian brought to his business. And he knew it. Others in our community knew it. And his business partner did, too.

Brian’s way of networking, his care for his clients and his employees, his way of combining product and service to meet highly individualized needs, his business views – this is what made up the heart of the business.

If you’re a small business owner yourself, you know what that really means. It means sacrifice. It means connecting to people in the right way at the right time – often on evenings, weekends or early mornings. It means putting your business before anything else (even, at times, family). It means being your brand and being on, all the time.

Because of that sacrifice, it felt good to reflect for a moment on how much Brian had accomplished when the lawyer asked what the business was worth. But…

What would happen if he was no longer around?

We didn’t want to think about that, but our lawyer pressed on, asking, “Do you have a buy-sell agreement in place and life insurance on your partner?”

The answers to both questions were no. It had been a good two years since Brian and his partner had formally evaluated the business to know what it was worth and what would happen if one of the partners were to pass away. That’s probably because they’d been too busy expanding the business, hiring new employees and branching off in new directions to even think about it. (Which is all the more reason for thinking about these things.)

As it stood, should something happen, I would inherit Brian’s share of the business and become the new business partner. His partner doubtfully would have the money to buy me out, and I very doubtfully would be able to assume Brian’s role. If he were to pass away without a financial plan in place, it could potentially be the end of his business and his partner’s career, among other things.

It was clear that Brian and his partner needed to meet with their accountant, lawyer and insurance agent.

How Insurance Helps Protect Your Brand (Especially When You Are the Brand)

Life insurance is one important piece of the puzzle when it comes to protecting your business. A buy-sell agreement and a current evaluation of a business’ worth are the other pieces. It looks a little bit like this:

puzzle

It’s imperative to have life insurance for you and your business partner(s), a buy-sell agreement and an overall financial plan should something happen to you. A life insurance policy would help your partner buy your half of the business if the situation arose. That benefits them and it benefits whoever would inherit your assets. It also ensures that the show would go on without you should it ever come to that. (Here’s a great story about people who recognized this).

More Ways Insurance Can Help Protect Your Personal Brand

Insurance can help you protect your brand in many ways. For starters, it can help protect against personal and business liability (think lawsuits) and damage from storms, fires and other disasters.

ERIE Agents – independent small business owners just like you – are experts who can help you determine the best ways to protect your business. To learn more about how to protect the business you’ve worked so hard to build, contact an ERIE Agent today.

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