Create a Company Survival Guide for Your Heirs

What if something happened to you and you were no longer able to run your business?

At breakfast last week, Charlie Witzke, CFO at Ecoflow in Greensboro, NC, made a powerful point about the need for a basic Company Survival Guide for Heirs of business owners. I asked him to share some of his thoughts with me, and with his permission, I share them with you!

What I like about this guide is that it was put together from the perspective of a business leader in the business. Your CPA, Risk/Insurance agent, Banker, Business Attorney and Estate Planning Attorney also should weigh in on this list.  They will undoubtedly have additional tax, financial and legal components or nuances that are important in your particular situation.

This Company Survival Guide for Heirs offers a good conversation starter with each of your advisors.

If you were no longer in a position to run your business, and your heirs are not active in the business, here are the ten key pieces of information to have readily available:

  1. Contact information for your lawyers, accountant, banker and risk/insurance agent
  2. An identified interim leader who is designated to run the business in your absence
  3. “Executive summary” of the business. (This will give your heirs an overview of the business as well as a starting point for an Offer Memo should they decide to sell)
  4. Where to find the most recent annual and interim financial statements
  5. Where to find the latest “Plans” such as the annual budget, a 3-year work plan or a long term strategy document
  6. List of top customers and key suppliers
  7. Key product and / or service initiatives
  8. Legal contracts that are important to the business
  9. Potential acquirers if your successor(s) had to sell or chose to explore selling the business
  10. List of what is keeping you up at night? This will let your interim leader know where the skeletons in the closet are hiding

What pieces of information would you add to this  Company Survival Guide?