Advisors need to ask the right questions clients that own small businesses.

“It’s who, what, why, where, when and how much,” says Nick Niemann, an Omaha, Neb., attorney wo has worked with hundreds of financial planners and their entrepreneurial clients. “Who do you think you want to transfer your business to ultimately? What is your exit so that you know what you are working towards? Why do you want to do this? What is your legacy? We need to know where you are headed.”

When it comes to legacy, Niemann, a member of the board of director for the Nebraska chapter of the FPA, says, business owners have a wide variety of motivations for the differing ways they depart from, sell or close their businesses.

“What do you want to be remembered for as a business owner?” he asks these clients to define their motivations. “Do you want to be remembered as a company that solves problems for its customers, or a company that provided jobs in the community? Do you want to know that you provided for your kids and grandkids? Do you want to fund a charity with the proceeds from the sale of your business? What is it, ultimately, that drives you?”

Asking the right questions, Niemann says, is an essential step in determining how to best serve this demanding type of client.

Niemann, whose family owned a regional supermarket chain, lays out his system for working with entrepreneurial clients on his website.


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