There are many reasons why succession planning may be an unpopular topic. Some of which may be:

  • It appears to overwhelming and too emotional to address

  • A fear of giving up control, not wanting to retire, or addressing the inevitable of all humans – our mortality

  • The monetary/ time investment appears to much for the business

  • To excited and focused on growth to think about “the end”

I am not going to minimize any of the reasons above for avoiding succession planning, as they are very valid arguments however; I would like to challenge your thinking on the concept to see if I can move it up on your popularity scale. To do this, I am first going to provide a definition of succession that is much more comprehensive than misconceptions may lead you to believe.

Contrary to popular belief, business succession planning is much more than just bowing out, planning for retirement, generational warfare, or creating scads of legal documents. It is a transitional, strategic process that focuses on successful long-term continuity of an operating business through the next generation of owners, leaders, and managers. This process is not just about basic estate planning or profits, but is highly dependent upon addressing multiple, interdependent, long-term performance factors known as the Succession Matrix®.

As you review the factors of the Succession Matrix® in the image provided, you may notice, that the factors included are not only critical to the succession planning process, but are also essential in building business value. So, with that in mind, what if we change the term “Succession Planning” to “Building Business Value” planning, would your reasons for avoiding succession planning fade and would the topic move up on your popularity scale? Would you allow potential fears get in your way of reaching your business goals?

Assuming now, that the topic of succession planning, or should we say, “Building Business Value planning,” are on more popular ground, the following are four key items to get you started on the right track:

  1. Identify your vision and define your culture

    • Write it down and communicate it.
    • The vision is critical for knowing the direction you want to go.
  2. Develop Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound Goals

    • Succession planning, or “Building Value Planning,” doesn’t happen overnight, it is a transitional process.
    • This will allow you to put one foot in front of the other to achieve your goals.
  3. Expect Emotions

    • If you expect emotions, you can pre-empt them
    • Communicate and don’t let the uncomfortable paralyze forward movement. 
  4. Identify a third-party facilitator to hold you accountable to your SMART goals and to purposely address the factors of the Succession Matrix

    • Accountability is key to achieving your goals.
    • A third party unbiased facilitator will help diffuse emotional situations
    • Be sure, whoever you choose is comfortable and understands the interdependent nature of the Succession Matrix

Don’t let your emotions associated with fear of the unknown paralyze you from moving forward. Be realistic, succession planning, growth or building value can’t happen in one day, it takes time. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your empire or business can’t be built in a day either. In accomplishing any goal, it is all about putting one foot in front of the other and systematically addressing milestones that will lead you to the finish line. 

What is getting in the way for you to build business value or grow your business? 

What legacy do you want to leave? 

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