How do you define succession? It’s a mouthful – so be prepared. The definition is “The formal definition is the continuation of success through the next generation of owners and managers through proactive reconciliation of predictable, probable and possible contingencies.” Yes, that is an intense definition, so let’s not dwell on the formal definition any more. So what’s the practical definition of succession? SURVIVAL!

We normal “John Q Citizens” currently resemble a gaggle of ducks on the pond. We appear active but under control as we go about to and fro purposefully looking for our next meal (business deal) and cackling about the latest and greatest of goings-on. However below the surface we are paddling frantically trying to be productive and keep our heads above water in an atmosphere of significantly reduced opportunities; essentially trying to survive a recession from hell. We are frustrated at reduced revenue and the political malarkey that we all know will eventually increase our expenses. TINSTAAFL, is not a German pastry, it’s an acronym for “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and we know that politically we are the ones to get the bill for excessive government spending. Although of no actual benefit, we have reconciled that both our customers and suppliers are in the same boat.

However, contrary to your conscious thought, if you have the flexibility, reach over your shoulder and pat yourself on the back. If you have remained in business and don’t feel or hear the eviction and foreclosure thugs banging on your door, you have survived; you have succeeded. Congratulations are in order because you have done some important things right. With all the arrows that you have been dodging you probably thought you could not do anything right. Not the case, you may be an unconscious competent but just the same, you have achieved the first succession planning threshold. In times of crisis, luck works and is greatly appreciated! Don’t let this acknowledgement go to your head, but stop the frantic paddling for a moment to affirm that your head is still above water. You have survived and with survival you have achieved the fundamental prerequisite to succession. 

OK breaks over. It’s time to start paddling again to chase a few victories in the midst of all these depressing defeats. Hang tough and don’t anticipate the tide is going to change tomorrow. You are going to have to keep your head down a little longer but the ratio of victories should begin to increase soon. Also, be thankful that you either consciously or by dumb luck followed the succession planning credo: build your success based upon the complementary, interdependent strength of the multiple issues that support the continuation of your success and survival or what is known as the Succession Matrix. Success is not always defined in terms of those thin disguises that prior profits have purchased. Sometimes success is defined in terms of the family, key managers, loyal employees, faithful customers and vigilant vendors who have witnessed a sacrificial reinvestment of your profits and have proudly profess a vested interest in your survival.  

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