University of Northern Iowa




Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Do not act as if you had ten thousand years to throw away. Death stands at your elbow. Be good for something while you live and it is in your power. 

–Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


Building a successful business likely took you years of deliberate planning. From your initial business plan to now, you’ve built something worth protecting and worthy of pride. When many owners reach the peak of their business success, they wonder where they go from there. Whether you’re approaching, at, or getting farther away from the peak of your success, the answer is likely... Read More

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

As a business owner, you’re likely the most important person in your business. You’re probably the breadwinner for your family. Your employees rely on your leadership and success for their livelihood. A lot of people depend on you.

What would happen if, without warning, you were to die or become incapable of running the business?

Many business owners might answer that question by saying, “I have a Buy-Sell Agreement” (a written agreement that controls what happens to your stock following certain events, such as death or incapacitation). If you own a successful business, a Buy-Sell might not be enough. Experience shows that Buy-Sell Agreements only dictate to whom business... Read More

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Summary: Using a case study, this article shows how transferring ownership to employees can position owners to achieve many different goals. For many small-to-mid-market business owners, there are few things more important than maintaining control of the company, minimizing risks for the company, and rewarding the employees that make the company successful. Ownership transfers to the company’s most valuable employees can do all of these things with proper planning, but there is a caveat.

While it’s admirable for owners to try to reward their key employees with ownership, many owners want to do everything they can to receive maximum value during the process of transferring their o... Read More

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

There are many things for you to consider as you think about the future of your business ownership: When is the right time to move on? How much money will I need? How do I even sell this business? These questions dovetail into an important decision you’ll try to make early in the process of planning your future: Whom you’ll sell or transfer your ownership to.

At the end of the day, business owners can sell to two different types of buyers: insiders or outsiders (also referred to as “third parties”). There are different flavors of insiders (e.g., children, key employees, co-owners, and even ESOPs) and third parties (e.g., competitors, venture capitalists, private equity groups, st... Read More

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

By Dan Beenken, Program Director


Last month I introduced a new series you might call “Selling a Job vs. Marketing a Business.” The main point is that no one wants to buy a job, an enterprise that provides just enough for someone to be self- employed. Banks don’t want to finance these deals either. So, if you want to exit your company and get paid more than just the value of the assets, you can’t just have a job, you need to have a business. But what does that really mean?

One of the first signs that you have a business, is that you are profitable. It sounds simple – but a business broker I talked to recently estimated that nearly 40% of all businesses listed for... Read More

Monday, April 08, 2019

Summary: To build business value, many owners start by installing three important Value Drivers.

Building business value is a core reason you wake up and run your business every day. As your business grows in value, it can position you to find new clients; keep current clients happy; support your employees financially and intellectually; and provide a nest egg for yourself, your family, and any charitable organizations you work with.

Many business owners find that there’s a certain point at which they don’t know how to grow the business any larger. They’ve done everything they can think of, but the business plateaus. These plateaus can create big challenges for owners wh... Read More

Monday, April 08, 2019

Summary: This article explains why business owners should make themselves inessential to the business’ success if they ever want to exit on their terms.

Businesses that rely on their owners as the primary source of success are common. They’re also the most dangerous kind of business to own when you want to plan for the future of your ownership interest. Unless your goal for the future of your ownership is to liquidate the business and shut it down, you’ll likely need to build your business’ transferable value.

One way to define transferable value is that it is what a business is worth to a qualified buyer without the owner present. Essentially, a business that relies on... Read More

Friday, March 29, 2019

You don’t want to miss this ….

     Families are difficult to coordinate. One member is going one direction, another has commitments that overlap the third member of the family and where are the parents in the mix? Now ADD a family business to the equation! When do you find time to make sure that everyone is working in the same direction and prepared for a crisis situation …. Or just prepared for tomorrow, next week and next month?

     The goal of the UNI Family Business Forum is to provide value to family businesses. Value in content, connections and resources. The upcoming event with the Vermeer family offers insight into the history of one of Iowa’s largest and most... Read More

Tuesday, March 12, 2019
By Mark Hermann

Recently I spoke at the Iowa Wine Growers Association Annual Conference and got the opportunity meet business owners all over Iowa. After chatting with these amazing entrepreneurs, I have a better understanding of the challenges they face. The speech I gave at the conference was intended to showcase some of the services we provide at Advance Iowa, emphasizing out intentions to help business owners prepare their businesses for the future. All businesses have challenges. At Advance Iowa, we have programs meant to specifically help business owners manage some of those challenges. One of our newest programs consists of events that give guidance to family run businesses and... Read More

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

When thinking about business planning, one aspect you may be tempted to overlook is the contributions of your key employees. Key employees are the lifeblood of well-run businesses, and they play an important role when owners begin to plan for their businesses’ futures, especially when owners begin to plan for their inevitable business exits. Many owners find that unless they have ways to incentivize key employees to stay with the business—rather than taking their talents elsewhere for more money or recognition—they cannot properly plan for their business’ futures. Consider the story of Jacqui Dickson, a key employee with Balthazar’s Ink Emporium.

Jacqui Dickson was a top performer... Read More