At best, business owners view succession planning as a time-consuming chore; at worst, they avoid exit planning altogether and suffer the consequences later. Every owner, including you, will eventually leave his/her business, one way or another. Creating a succession plan is your opportunity to impact the future for you, your family, and your business.
Thinking of succession planning as a sailing expedition can help make the process manageable.
Envision: What is your ideal destination?
You are the captain: Identify your goals and unconscious expectations as the business owner.
- Income – how much will you need to live the lifestyle you want?
- When would you like to transition out of your
- Are you ready? Don’t ignore your emotional needs for you to succeed before, during, and after the transition.
- Do you want ongoing involvement/investment in business, as in a staged exit? Or do you prefer to walk away after a short training period?
- Legacy – what do you want to support long-term, including charitable organizations, trusts for family, schools?
- Values & personal objectives – are there important considerations regarding your community, employees, customers, etc.?
Bring in your crew: Identify the needs, goals, and expectations of any other owners, family, management, employees.
- Hold a family meeting, as well as individual management meetings to discuss everyone’s needs and goals with the understanding these are considerations, not commitments.
Plan: Chart your course
Planning for success means formulating the ideal situation…and then preparing for contingencies.
First mates are your lifelines: Management planning – Who can best perform your tasks (responsibilities, skills, relationships) after you’ve left the daily operations of the business?
- How do you get those individuals ready?
- Objectively assess capability & willingness.
Hope for smooth sailing: Develop a best-case scenario –
- Prioritize and balance the needs and values of everyone involved.
- What is necessary to ensure a smooth management transition?
- Consciously recognize your income, lifestyle, and legacy goals in the succession plan.
…But plan for choppy seas: Explore all the options.
- Weigh goals vs. what is legally and financially feasible.
- Realistically analyze the finances and operations of the business with a market valuation.
Check the forecast: Project the future viability of the company through a SWAT analysis of the industry.
- Strategize steps to improve company value to close any value gap that would prevent you from satisfying your objectives.
- Remember that succession options include family succession, third-party sale, management buyouts, Buy-Sell agreements, ESOPs and other structures.
Achieve: Set sail to your Life Beyond Business™
Chart your course and begin your journey: Design and implement the succession plan.
- Create a map of what your succession plan will achieve and how the business will look after the transition.
- Inform the other stakeholders.
- Draw up legal and financial documents with the appropriate professionals.
Correct course: Review and revise the succession plan annually to maintain relevance and to address changing tax and estate laws, life changes (divorce, disability, the death of stakeholders), and business/industry changes.
Your Life Beyond Business™ of your dreams is within your reach with the right succession planning. This will take time and diligence, but your goals are worth hiring a professional to guide you through this process and keep you on track if needed.
Dave Driscoll is president of Metro Business Advisors, a business brokerage, valuation and exit planning firm helping owners of companies with revenue up to $20 million sell their most valuable asset. Reach Dave at DDriscoll@MetroBusinessAdvisors.com or (314) 303-5600. www.MetroBusinessAdvisors.com