By Alan Johnson
As Truro and Colchester County businesses prepare their budgets for the growth that's ahead, they have many more issues to contend with than people who limit themselves to non-business purchases.
There's staffing, manufacturing equipment, distribution, customer service costs, computer software, future sales and lots more, including the big question: who's going to take over the business when it's time for retirement?
At CoRDA, one of our programs is called Business Retention and Expansion (BRE). It allows us to speak with business operators about their plans for the future. Some of the issues might surprise you and some may not.
For instance, the supply of Class 1 truck drivers isn't that plentiful in the Atlantic region. That means that if you or someone you know is looking for a new career, professional truck driving is one you might want to consider as exports from the this province to the United States ramp up during the next two to three years; the U.S. economy won't stay on the down side forever.
Some of our other findings revolve around how businesses expect to remain vibrant once their owners reach retirement age. Some business owners plan to retire at 65 and leave their businesses to their children. That's not a bad plan, as long as they've spoken to their children about it and have a written agreement in place. But if they haven't, that could spell trouble.
My point here is that good planning serves its purpose when a lawyer and accountant can help put those business succession plans in place, sooner rather than later. And despite some bad news from the Liverpool area during the past two weeks, there are good things ahead for local and provincial economies.
For a further sense of what's to come, here's a trend I mentioned in April's column, and it's definitely an up and down thing.
A story from The Associated Press in May said Americans bought more previously owned homes in April. Economists are labelling it as a hopeful sign that the weak U.S. housing market is gradually improving.
The National Association of Realtors in the states says home sales rose 3.4 per cent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million.
That brings home sales back near the pace in January and February, which was the best winter for sales in five years. While U.S. sales are still below the nearly
$6 million per year that economists equate with the healthiest markets, a large number of economists are betting these improving numbers are a sign of things to come.
Even more interesting for Truro-Colchester firms who export to the U.S. is that the AP survey showed the median price for homes sold in the United States is now $177,400. That's up 10.1 per cent from a year ago. It's quite a turnaround, when you consider the mortgage crisis stories that were making headlines going into the summer of 2011.
It's further proof that when people plan ahead for how they want their business to be owned and operated by the next generation, they should also consider the broader, international economy and how it will affect us here at home.
What CoRDA staff members are finding from their BRE visits to local businesses is that if you haven't planned into the next five- to 10-year period, the time is now. Talk to a lawyer and your accountant about who will take over your thriving business when it's time for you to move into retirement. As economic growth picks up in Canada and the U.S. in the next few years, you'll be glad you did.
To help you out, CoRDA expects to co-host some events on business succession planning in the near future, so stay tuned.
Alan Johnson is director of marketing and communications for the Colchester Regional Development Association. His column appears in this space each month. He can be reached by emailing email@example.com