Business Maverick


How to get a decent income out of your business when you retire

How to get a decent income out of your business when you retire
A number of options are open to you on your retirement, but you might have to consider adjusting your expectations. (Photo: iStock)

If you want to keep receiving an income from the business, you should probably keep some shares.

Question: I have a small business and have reached the age when I want to scale back and retire. I have an employee who has worked for me for the past 20 years. I would like to pass the business on to him and have him pay me a monthly amount as a pension. How can I do this?

Answer: This is a challenge that affects many small business owners as they approach retirement age. The business is often built around them and their expertise, and, when they retire, the business often ceases as there is no one to continue it. It is important that they create a succession plan.

There is a solution, but, for it to work, you need at least one employee who can run the business with minimum involvement from you. As this person knows how to do the work and knows your customers, it is also a threat to the business as he or she could set up shop in competition with you or be poached by a competitor.

It is important, therefore, that you create the right structures to keep the employee with you. You need to make it attractive for him or her to stay with the company after you retire.

I use the following solution for clients in a similar predicament:

Have the company valued

Have your business valued by an independent professional. You may be surprised to find that it is worth a lot more than you think it is. Remember, this business has been sustaining your lifestyle for many years, so it is an income generator.

Decide what percentage of the business you want your employee to own

If you want to keep receiving an income from the business, you should probably keep some shares. You need to put a structure in place for the employee to be in a position to buy the percentage of the business that you would like him or her to own.

Take out a preferred compensation scheme

Briefly, the way it works is that you draw up an agreement with your potential successor by which you increase your successor’s salary and have him or her pay the premiums on an investment policy that is ceded to the company. Once the investment policy matures (usually after five years), your successor is obliged to use the proceeds of this investment to buy shares in the company.

The number of shares they get will be based on the value of the investment and the value of the company at the time of purchase. You will now be in a position where you get a trusted employee to have a vested interest in the long-term success of the company. You are also able to extract a cash lump sum from your business.

If you still have a share of the business, you will receive ongoing dividends. You can also structure an agreement where you provide consulting services to the business. This is a nice way of reducing your involvement with the business and receiving an ongoing income from it. DM

Kenny Meiring is an independent financial adviser. Contact him on 082 856 0348 or at Send your questions to [email protected].


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