Technically, the answer is before you even open your doors for business (why go anywhere without knowing how you are going to get back?). Now I know that is idealistic to many of you as survival is your highest priority. Let’s face it, succession planning is a subject many business owners would rather not face. However, I submit to you that the earlier you begin the process, the less stressful the transition will be for you and all parties who are touched in some way by your business (employees, community, vendors etc.).

Whether you are 35 years old and bulletproof or you are between the ages of 55 and 75, there is no better time than NOW to begin your succession planning. If you have been a consistent reader of this blog, you understand that Succession Planning Builds Value (the value of your business that is). From an owner’s perspective, I understand there are many considerations involved such as: do I have a capable successor, is he/she ready, am I ready to pull back, when (if ever) should I give up control, will I remain active full time or part time? These questions can create a great deal of tension and discomfort for you, but the earlier you address them, the less overwhelming they become.

Preparing for a successful transition takes good, old fashioned time. You should be thinking somewhere between 3-10 years depending upon the age, experience, commitment and competency of your successor. This is why it is imperative to begin NOW. What are you waiting for? Get started!

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