Small Business Owners

We help CEOs, founders, partners or proprietors of a business who want more time, education and advice.

Work with an advisor who you can trust, that knows you well.

At Cullen Investment Group, our advisors offer insight and prioritization of your personal goals and aspirations. We will help you discover which wealth transfer strategies work best in your situation. At the same time, we coordinate with your other professional advisors, including accountants, attorneys and bankers.

What We Help Clients With

Starting a Business

The small business is the backbone of America. Though most people know the names of large corporations such as Nike, Microsoft, and General Motors, it is the small mom-and-pop stores on the neighborhood corner that keep the economy moving. In fact, recent business surveys show that 22.9 million independent enterprises exist in the US today. Of these, 16.4 million are sole proprietorships, 1.6 million partnerships, and 4.5 million corporations. The vast majority (a full 99 percent) are small businesses with less than 500 employees. Realizing the importance of small businesses, Congress created the Small Business Administration 50 years ago to provide helpful advice and financial assistance to small business owners. This money is put to good use as starting a small business is no cheap venture. According to statistics, the average sole proprietorship requires an investment of $6,000 to get off the ground, while a partnership can often require $20,000. It is because of this extra investment that partnerships have a higher rate of survival than sole proprietorships. This data highlights the importance of capital and money management to the successful small business. As you try to navigate this venture, keep in mind the importance of managing your financial resources. The best thing you can do is begin securing the capital you need and to create a clear business plan. These steps will help you stay on course and hopefully make your business a success. We can help you manage your personal finances as well as your business. Running a business can be all-consuming, leaving little time to plan for your financial future and your family’s security. We can help you make sure that your personal finances are in order and that you’re able to reap the financial benefits and tax advantages that ownership may afford. We work as your personal CFO so that you can focus on what you do best — running your business and enjoying your life.

Expanding a Business

It all started back in 1963. Two boys discovered a friendship and mutual love for ice cream in seventh grade gym class in New York. Fifteen years later, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened a shop in Burlington, Vermont selling their favorite treat out of a renovated gas station. But this was only the beginning. The two entrepreneurs quickly focused on expansion by opening a franchise and factory to pack pints of ice cream for stores. By the year 2000, the company posted over $230 million dollars in sales and Americans enjoyed Ben and Jerry’s ice cream across the country. The key to Ben and Jerry’s success, like other multimillion dollar companies such as Microsoft, McDonald’s, and Nike, has always been expansion at the right time and in the right place. Sometimes it’s about luck, but mostly it’s based on careful investigation and thoughtful planning. Though your company may not be shooting for megabucks and international trade, it’s important to follow the example of companies that have gone that route. Start early by writing out your company’s goals and how you hope to achieve them. Next, find the means to secure each goal. This may mean locating extra funding, expanding facilities, and adding new personnel. No matter what, take time along the way to evaluate your growth plan and the direction in which you are heading. Expansion is a great opportunity to help your business grow and firmly establish itself in the business community, so do all you can to maximize your expansion plans and enjoy the results. We will help look over the assets of your business and your available funds. Additionally, we can help calculate the profit you expect to bring in by expanding. Be sure that the money you spend will not be more than that you project to make. If needed, we assist in recommending secure loans from financial institutions. You may also want to look for investors who are willing to put up an amount for the expansion. There are a number of funding options. Research each thoroughly when contemplating expansion to find one that works for you.

Transferring a Business to Family

Believe it or not almost 90 percent of US businesses qualify as family businesses! These family businesses employ 62% of the US work force and represent 64% of our GNP. And we aren’t just talking about the “mom and pop” stores on the corner. In fact, 35% of the businesses that make up the S&P 500 are actually family controlled and can be found among the largest corporations in the country and the world. Take Wal-Mart for example. Started by Sam Walton in 1962, most of the business remains in the hands of his children and wife who own almost 40 percent of the world’s top retailer. Most family business owners, like Walton, want to keep the company in the hands of their family. Many would continue running the business themselves to ensure this. However, retirement, death, and disability make this impossible. At some point in time, transferring the business to a family member becomes a top priority for owners. Market analysts predict that at any given time 40 percent of American businesses are in the process of planning or executing a transfer. Many spend months choosing the right family member to take over the business and teaching the successor how to manage effectively. Some individuals may be in training for years, helping their parents from the day the business opened. Even more effort will be put into navigating the difficult legal and financial issues related to transfer. Even though it’s a business agreement between family members, transferring a business is still a business agreement and it requires all the legal and financial precautions necessary when dealing with a stranger. You want to be sure that everything is set for your family member to take over and for the family legacy to continue.

Acquire or Purchase a New Business

Many people dream of owning and successfully managing their own business. For some, the idea of running a business is appealing but they do not want to deal with business plans, investors, and the legal issues associated with starting a new business. The risk of starting a business can also be a deterrent. It is estimated that less than 10% of all start-up businesses are able to successfully secure the financing required at the outset and 60% of start-ups fail within the first three years. Buying an existing business is often a simpler and safer alternative. The main reason to buy an existing business is the drastic reduction in start-up costs of time, money, and energy. In addition, cash flow may start immediately thanks to existing inventory and receivables. Other benefits include pre-existing customer goodwill and easier financing opportunities, if the business has a positive track record. The biggest barrier to buying a small business outright may be the initial purchasing cost. Because the business concept, customer base, brands, and other fundamental work has already been done, the financial costs of acquiring an existing business are usually greater then starting one from scratch. Although the initial purchasing cost of a business may be greater, it is generally much easier to secure capital from lenders to take over an established business. If the business has a positive cash flow, proven track record and perceived stability, it makes it easier to secure affordable acquisition financing. Many lenders will fund 50% to 75% of the acquisition cost for businesses depending on a number of factors such as the cash flow numbers, assets and security available. Good research is the key to avoiding any possible disadvantages in purchasing an existing business. A thorough examination can reveal any hidden problems associated with the business such as receivables that are valued at the time of purchase but later turn out to be non-collectable. A buyer should also be aware that many acquired businesses lose 5-10% of their customers in the first year after a sale. Another transitional aspect to be aware of is the impact of new ownership on staff and suppliers. Careful planning and following the advice of experienced counsel will help make the most of the advantages of purchasing a business and decrease the impact of any potential disadvantages. We can help you manage your personal finances as well as your business. Running a business can be all-consuming, leaving little time to plan for your financial future and your family’s security. We can help you make sure that your personal finances are in order and that you’re able to reap the financial benefits and tax advantages that ownership may afford. We work as your personal CFO so that you can focus on what you do best — running your business and enjoying your life.

Contemplating a Career Change

Mark Twain was once a steamboat pilot, Abraham Lincoln was a merchant, and Danny DeVito was a hairdresser. Whether you realize it or not, many people have made career changes in their lives, including some of the most famous. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that over 50 percent of Americans are unhappy with their current jobs and would like to change career paths. With numbers as high as this, it is easy to understand why many people consider a change in their career. A change in career can be a great way to increase satisfaction at work, salary, and benefits. A career change can also be made necessary by changes in the economy, technology, or changes in your current industry. Some people hesitate to change careers because of uncertainties about the future, fear of unemployment, and the possibility of decreasing their current salary. However, all of these concerns can be overcome with careful thought, methodical planning, and a little bit of optimism. You may need to research careers in your area and go back to school. As you consider this transition, take a look at your financial paperwork to see where you stand and how much you can risk on the transition. Develop yourself personally, financially, and professionally to make the most of your career change. You never know, you might be the next great writer, singer, politician, or performer. When considering a career change, we help you determine how soon you will be physically, emotionally and financially able make the transition. If there is an immediate need or desire, ask yourself if you are prepared right now. It might be advisable to wait, if possible, in order for you to investigate the new career, research the job market, and obtain any new training needed. Giving yourself ample time to prepare will increase your chances of success. We can help you realize how a career change will affect your income. Will you still be able to maintain your present lifestyle or will additional sources of income be needed? Secondly, many career changes require that you relocate for either a brief period or many years. Be sure that your family is ready for such a move if necessary. Lastly, such a transition can be stressful on you and others. Be sure that all of you are prepared for the stress. Keep lines of communication open so that you can offer one another support if needed.

Gain/ Lose a Business Partner

Business statistics show that over 1.7 million American businesses are registered as partnerships. The largest majority operate in the finance/insurance/real estate sector with services, retail, and agriculture right behind. With over 16 million Americans classifying themselves as partners in a business, partnership relations are an important issue in our economy and in our daily lives. A business partnership is the foundation on which a business is built. Those in control direct not only the current day-to-day operations but also the future path of the business. Choosing the right partner is one of the most critical issues for any business owner. Looking for a partner can be a long and difficult process. There will be background checks to run, paperwork to fill out, and financial issues to calculate and resolve––not to mention the effort involved in determining if personalities and goals can exist in unity. Losing a partner can be even more difficult to deal with because not only will you need to deal with the stresses of resolving issues with the leaving partner, but you will also have to address either finding a new partner or managing the business on your own. No matter what your situation, waste no time in getting started. Idle time will only hurt your company and cause additional stress.

Selling/ Closing a Business

Running your business has been a major part of your life for years or maybe even decades but now it may be time to move on. There are many reasons people decide to sell or close a business. It may be lack of management skills, marketing issues, a bad market, old age, or simply lack of interest. What happens to you and your company in the weeks ahead will depend on the path you choose (sale versus closure) and what state your business is in (failing versus profitable). According to the Small Businesses Administration, 53 percent of businesses don’t make it past the fourth year. Given these statistics, it’s important for small business owners to plan for the possibility of selling/closing. Having a plan may actually assist in avoiding a business loss as well as helping owners recognize the signs when it’s time to pull out. If you have come to this stage or are looking to prevent it, it’s time to educate yourself on the process involved and the financial steps you must take to ensure your security. Selling a business can be very profitable. You hear stories of million dollar corporate sales every year. Although you might not be at that level, you do want to get all you can for your business. You’ve put a lot of hard work to get it where it is today. Don’t sell yourself short. While selling has the potential of great income, closing is a different story. You may have debts to pay off and little or no money to do so. For some it can even mean filing bankruptcy. Smart legal and financial planning can make the difference of either floating or sinking after your doors close. No matter which boat you are in, now is the time to take control and do all you can to come out on top. You will need to pay taxes on gains from the sale. However, there are many legal ways to minimize your tax payout’s through modifying the structure of the sale or the business itself. We can work together with your tax accountant to offer more information. Experts can provide great advice and help decrease your loss.

Picking the Right Retirement Plan(s)

There are several different type of retirement accounts for small businesses to utilize. Including: 401(K) Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Defined Benefit Pension Plans Defined Benefit/ 401(K) Defined Contribution Combination Plans Profit Sharing Plans Cash Balance Pension Plans SEP IRA Retirement Plan We will give you the pros and cons for each type of plan and help you make informed decisions on picking the plan(s) that are right for you and your business.