What Funeral Directors Must Know Before Selling Their Business To A Competitor

“I have a very highly developed sense of denial”- Gwyneth Paltrow

Nearly every study done on business succession readiness indicates that 70% or more of all small and medium business owners have no written exit plan in place.

Funeral business owners are no exception even though they know, perhaps better than anyone else, the high cost of failure to plan.

As a funeral director, you are confronted daily with painful and stressful conditions that occur when your clients don’t make plans and are forced to make important decisions under duress. You probably also realize that most of this failure to plan can be traced to human beings’ intimate relationship with denial.

Denial is a powerful, double-edged sword. On the one hand, it helps us cope with devastating occurrences that come our way. On the other hand, it often leads us to eschew preparation and planning in favor of crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.

Funeral directors succumb to denial just like anyone else; putting off much-needed business succession planning in lieu of a “wait and see” approach.

While most funeral business owners express an intense desire to see the businesses into which they have poured so much of themselves continue after they have retired, few have a plan in place to make that happen.

Without such pre-retirement planning, owners are opening themselves up to situations which can severely compromise their ability to sell their businesses for enough money to retire.

Many of them believe that when the time comes to walk away from the business, they will be able to sell the business quickly to a competitor for a nice price.

Why Selling to A Competitor Isn’t Always A Good Idea

Over the past few years, large corporations have been buying up individually owned funeral homes in record numbers. Many directors have balked at this trend and are not interested in becoming a part of a “McBurial” chain.

It’s natural, then, that when the time comes for those directors to retire; they look for other independent mortuary business owners to whom they can sell their profitable business.

However, before selling your business to a competitor, be sure you understand some of the potential adverse consequences of such a sale.

1. The would-be buyer’s interest may not be genuine. In many businesses such as funeral homes, it is not uncommon for another business owner to feign interest in purchasing a competitor simply in order to gain inside information. By posing as a prospective buyer, competitors may hope to get access to your trade secrets, marketing techniques, or customer lists.

You must not give way any sensitive data until you have done due diligence and are satisfied that the prospect is genuine. One way to do this might be to ask for proof that they have the funds available to make such a purchase. ALWAYS ask potential buyers to sign a non-disclosure agreement that has been reviewed by your attorney. This can serve as a deterrent to “fakers” and protect your trade secrets during the selling process. You might also want to ask others you trust in your business about the reputation and integrity of the competitor who wants to purchase your business.

2. Competitors sometimes have a “low-ball” game plan. Selling to a competitor means that you are selling to someone who ostensibly has as good an insight into the funeral industry as do you. He or she has knowledge specific to the business that allows them to justify offering you less that the most desirable price.

For instance, competitors understand all the stresses and headaches unique to the funeral home owners; they understand the “buttons” that can cause an owner to want to sell. Because they can read you and your situation, they are not as likely to want to give you your price as an equity fund or individual buyer. Additionally, because they can perform the same services as you do, they often try and carve out the “good will” part of the business valuation.

3. You are negotiating with a single buyer

When funeral services business owners opt to find a competitor to whom they can sell they have greatly diminished their chances for getting their business sold more quickly for a better price. Much as in a real estate deal, the interest of multiple qualified buyers can result in a bidding war which may drive the price up. Having only one potential buyer puts you at a disadvantage.

4. If the deal falls apart, your reputation could suffer

It’s a sad statistic, but a true one, that there is only about a 3% success for selling a business in the United States. Even when there are qualified, thoroughly-vetted buying prospects involved, deals can, and do, fall apart.

When this happens, expect the business gossips to pick up on the fact that you tried to sell and failed. Word will get around quickly and can cause families who have trusted your establishment to provide services for years to become concerned that you might be in financial trouble. Other competitors might be prone to use this against you to persuade clients to use their services instead of yours.

5. Third-party intermediaries could ruin the outcome

Your competitor, especially if this is the first time he or she has ever acquired another business, might hire a third party intermediary, such as a business broker, to provide guidance during the buying phase.

Unfortunately, unlike real estate brokers, business brokers have a less-than-stellar reputation when it comes to making selling or buying a business easier. In fact, a close examination of failed deals reveals that many times the failure is due to having too many third parties slowing down the process.

Business brokers, in general, contribute nothing but headaches when someone is trying to buy or sell a business. They can make the deal, if it happens at all, take two or three times longer while causing both buyer and seller a lot more stress.

These are just some of the important things to consider if you want to sell your business to the competition.

If you do decide upon this course of action, then be sure that you have a business exit plan in place, that you have discussed all your strategies and options with your attorney and CPA, and that you have put together a list of questions for the potential buyer.

Treat this as you would a job interview, with a view toward getting the best possible candidate.

Some questions you might want to ask the potential buyer include:

1. Can you really afford to purchase my business?

2. What is the structure of your business, i.e.; are you a sole proprietorship, corporation, owned by family, an ESOP or private equity?

3. Can you provide a brief history of your company and explain what your goals for the future are?

4. What exactly about my business makes you interested in purchasing it?

5. What are your plans for my employees and management?

6. Have you ever bought or sold businesses before?

7. What are you doing to grow your own business?

8. Why do you think you would be the perfect owner for my business?

Selling your successful funeral business to a competitor, while it might seem easier and less hassle than other methods is full of risks.

You must do everything possible to alleviate these risks that could derail your retirement plans and leave you with less money than you need in order to live a comfortable life.

You need to be absolutely sure that this move is the right one, for you and your business, and exercise extreme caution and diligence during every phase of the sale.

If you have doubts, it pays to seek out the expert advice of another business owner who has been in your shoes and can give you advice and wise counsel.

Forex Education Tips – 5 Steps to Successful Forex Trading

Close to 95% of all Forex traders will lose money. We’re not just talking about novices, either. Whether you trade Forex for a living, as a hobby or just for fun, odds are against your success. That’s a simply astonishing fact. However, the remaining 5% of Forex traders somehow manage to break even and there are those lucky few that actually make money in the currency market – consistently!Like the TV show says … “How’d they do that, anyway?”That’s the million dollar questions, isn’t it? Countless books, seminars and expos have been hosted to answer this very question. That sad fact is that thousands of books have been written and countless seminars and interviews have been conducted in an attempt to answer the magic questions. The reality of the situation is that there is no magic formula; no one single Holy Grail of Forex trading.So what do the successful traders do that the rest of us have simple not comprehended. They have mastered a process of winning where they combine and customize several factor to produce consistent results. They have mastered the Process of Trading.The Process of Trading is:Strategy > Money Management > Self-MasteryHere are some simple Forex Education tips to help you master the process of forex trading:Success Tip #1 – You’ve Got To Have a PlanYou must have a written business plan that will detail all aspects of your trading. When are you going to trade, how much to risk, strategies for entries and exits are just o name a few. To become a consistent (profitable) Forex trader you have to plan your trade sand trade your plan.

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Simplicity rules! Don’t make this plan too complicated. One sheet of paper for you mission statement and another for your trading plan should suffice. Anything more is probably too complicated.Success Tip #2 – Focus on Your Personal PsychologyKnowing yourself will allow you to master the discipline necessary to execute high quality trades with solid money management techniques. Lack of discipline is fatal in Forex trading. Go on a personal journey to identify you attitudes towards risk and money. Get intimate with your strengths and weaknesses as a trader and build in to your trading plan strategies to minimize those weaknesses and maximize your strengths.Different personalities lend to different trading styles. Get familiar with all the different styles and over time you will begin to gravitate towards one particular style. Don’t fight the urge like I did. I insisted I was a day trader, but had only limited results. I found my winning percentages were much higher when I entered swing trades. Guess what’s my bread and butter strategy now!Success Tip #3 – Be Realistic About Your ExpectationsThis is a hard one, I know! I am on the internet every day and the amount of advertising is staggering. Brokers are offering free education (fox in the hen house if you ask me), forums of all different trading styles and points of view. Gurus pushing their system as “the one” that will make you the big bucks. How do you get through all that noise?Let me tell you loud and clear right now – everyone is right and everyone is wrong. You have to make a personal commitment to become a successful trader, find a trading style that works for you and expect a slow and steady approach to wealth building through Forex.What works for me may not work for you. Expect to go through an exploratory period where you are learning and at the same time exploring yourself as a trader. Keep an open mind and don’t pay attention to all the noise out there.Success Tip #4 – Exercise PatienceRome was not built in a day and neither will your trading account. In fact, I tell all of my students that while they are studying to become successful Forex traders they should not look solely at their account balance as an indication of success or failure.By tracking and increasing your percentage of high quality trades you execute is a far better barometer of your progress than your account balance. Cause and effect rule here. Over time when you increase your probabilities through the execution of high quality trades your account balance will respond accordingly.Keep the focus on the process and with time your results will blow your mind.Success Tip #5 – Money Management Is Top PriorityI would rather have a shaky strategy and excellent money management techniques than the other way around. This topic warrants its own blog post to do it justice. Limited your exposure (read “risk”) allows for you to stay in the game and allow the laws of probability to work.

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Let’s take a casino for example. They need gamblers to frequent their slot machines to make money. Why? They have a game that has a greater than 50% chance of making money for the house. The more people that play the slots, the greater the casino’s profits.The casino controls risk by payout tables (always favoring the house!) and increases their probabilities by keeping gamblers at the slot machines (read “free drinks”). As a trader you must limit your risk by committing only 1% – 3% of available capital to a single trade. When you execute enough trades with a high probability strategy you too can clean up like the casinos – but only by staying in the game long term.In conclusion, Forex trading is not easy. It’s hard work and will test the limits of your patience and perseverance. If anyone tells you otherwise .., buyers beware! It can be a very rewarding and profitable venture if done correctly. In the end it is a profession that requires a learning curve and practical experience, no different than an airline pilot or engineer. Understanding how to approach and learn this game will allow you to reap all the benefits advertised. It is your Forex Education that you will master the Process of Forex Trading.

The Energy Healing Power of Natural Medicine

Natural medicine is a system that uses a variety of therapeutic or preventive health care practices such as homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and herbal medicine. Alternative medicine is also known as traditional, naturopathic, natural or holistic medicine. Proponents of alternative medicine are not refuting the validity of discoveries in and the practical uses of conventional medicine, but are merely trying to put some things into perspective. Due to the widespread interest in natural medicine along with the disappointment and disenchantment with Western medicine, many people, especially in the United States and Europe, where conventional medicine has taken a dominant foothold, are seeking the advice and treatment from naturopathic physicians. These practitioners include herbalists, acupuncturists, naturopaths, chiropractors, and others, who advocate preventative health measures as well as recommend wholesome foods and nutritional supplements for their patients and clients. Considering the growing popularity and effectiveness of alternative health treatments and products, certified and licensed professional practitioners of such medical practices should be given their rightful and respectful place in medical society. Natural medicine has been proven not only to be safe, but more effective than Western medicine in treating many chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and many other diseases as well

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The history of Natural Medicine and its roots can be traced back thousands of years to ancient cultures such as India and China. Ayurvedic (E. Indian) and Chinese medicine, along with their diagnostic and herbal systems, are still used in these countries extensively, as well as in the United States, especially in Europe, where alternative medicine is well respected. Chinese herbal medicine has a documented history of over 2500 years in China, and is now widely used by practitioners all over the world. It has been legally practiced in the United States. since the mid seventies by licensed acupuncturists. Homeopathy is also a well-known form of alternative medicine discovered in the 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, but was practically stamped out in the U.S. in the late nineteenth century by the American Medical Association. In 1938, though, the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act finally recognized homeopathic pharmacopoeia as the legal equivalent of allopathic medicine.Another more contemporary and popular form of herbal medicine, called Western herbalism, can be traced back about two hundred years in America. Samuel Thomson, born in 1769, is considered the father of Western herbalism. He discovered over sixty different medically effective native plants by clinical testing, and on the basis of these findings, devised a theory of disease and botanical drug action. Randy Kidu, D.V.M., Ph.D., writes in his articled entitled A Brief History of Alternative Medicine: “The history of herbal medicine is interesting because herbs have been a part of our diet and pharmacy since man began roaming the earth. Coprophytic evidence (seeds and other plant part(found in preserved fecal pellets) points to herbal use by cavemen. Early herbalists practiced their trade since before recorded history in all parts of the world including China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Africa, England, the Americas, and Europe. Many herbs are also mentioned in the Bible. Today, based on sheer numbers of folks who use one form of herbal medicine or another, it remains the most-used medicine worldwide.”Twenty-five hundred years after the advent of allopathic medicine, modern medicine is still grappling with the idea that herbal medicine could be an effective treatment, and not just quackery, although thousands of years of recorded history has proved its efficacy. A new model of understanding in medicine needs to be incorporated into the existing allopathic model. Because of the growing popularity and effectiveness of natural medicine, practitioners may eventually be given their deserved place in medical society. The incorporation of natural medical practices into the existing model of conventional Western medicine, including the training of new medical doctors, is now called Complimentary Medicine. In order to solve our health problems, this modern paradigm for treatment in medicine must be promoted. This can only truly emerge when bias, self-interest, greed and discrimination is discarded and diverse medical knowledge is promoted and shared, not only between university trained scientists and medical doctors, but among Alternative Medicine practitioners, philosophers, metaphysicians, and other intelligentsia of society as well.

Skip The Lines – Bring The Amusement Park Right To Your Own Back Yard

There’s no shortage of things to do in Atlanta. From professional sports to amusement parks, there’s something for everyone. In fact, Atlanta is proud to house some of the nations largest amusement attractions, including the ever popular Six Flags Over Georgia. Children (and adults) love the thrill and adrenaline rush of the large roller coasters. However, one thing most people don’t like about amusement parks is the long lines. By the time it’s all said and done, you can spend several hundred dollars for your family to have an afternoon of fun, and only get a few rides in. This year, instead of spending the day waiting in long lines for short rides, why not bring the fun right to your back yard? With today’s technology, you can literally do just that! One of the advantages of living in a large city like Atlanta is that we have large rental companies that can make your special event feel just like a trip to Six Flags… complete with a train and an ice cream cart!

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If you’re trying to replicate the amusement park feel, there are definitely specific items that you’ll want to be on the lookout for. As mentioned previously, ice cream carts and trackless trains help make the special event feel more like a day at Six Flags.In order to make your next special event more special, try some of the following tips:

Head online to do some research on the party rental company that has the selection your looking for. If you want an ice cream cart to complete your theme park adventure, look around until you find what you’re looking for.

Don’t settle for the first website you see. There are literally hundreds of inflatable party rental companies in Atlanta. Keep looking for a website that offers a wide variety of rental items that you’re looking for.

It’s better to rent everything from one company. Renting in bulk can help you save money. Larger companies will offer discounts for larger purchases of multiple units and rental items.

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Having a day of amusement park fun is cheaper and easier than ever before. By bringing the amusement park to your front door by using a party rental industry, you can include more people at a lower price. So next time you’re planning a special day, instead of spending tons of money for just a few people and braving the long lines of amusement parks, invite the whole neighborhood and bring the amusement park right to your own back yard!