During a recent presentation, someone in the audience asked if there was a right time to begin putting a succession plan together. I didn’t want to sound arrogant, so I simply replied, “Yes, of course there is. What time is it now?”
Sooner or later, one or more generations involved in a family business wants to talk about succession planning. Sometimes the idea comes from the next generation to lead the business; other times it comes from the generation currently leading the business or from multiple generations simultaneously.
The most common reason for not taking action stems from some variation of the idea that “the timing just isn’t right for us.” That notion seems to be rooted in some kind of conventional wisdom that also implies that succession planning has two seasons: The Right Season and The Wrong Season.
Like history, time has no seasons. There’s just the past, present and future. So, here’s a tip. Succession planning has as much to do with building the present value of your business as it does in deciding your business’ future—when you will retire and to whom you will entrust some portion of your legacy. After all, if there is no golden goose, there probably won’t be any golden eggs to feed the future generations.
If there is a right time to begin succession planning, it would probably be when you decide to build the present value of your business. Generally speaking that would be the day you start, buy, or inherit the business.
That’s because succession planning includes all ten of the essential vitamins and minerals you need to build a strong business. If you want to refresh your recollection of those ten vital nutrients, I invite you to look at some of the earlier blogs my partners and I have posted; or simply visit our website or that of the International Succession Planning Association.
Or you can just wait until conventional wisdom leads you believe the time is right. If you choose that approach, just remember the words of a song popular about 50 years ago: “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’ into the future.” So, before your legacy slips into the future and takes a turn you had not expected, begin assembling a team of trusted advisors who will act in your best interests. Go ahead. Increase your peace of mind. Make the call. Start building the value of your business and your legacy through generations to come.
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