Laying the groundwork for succession requires a lot of planning, grooming and ensuring that the next person to take the reins will be capable and prepared for running the firm. Indeed, it's never too early to start preparing for this stage. Coaching can be helpful as you navigate the multi-faceted process of succession planning.
This post is part of a series on retirement legacy planning. Last time, I discussed how to plan ahead for when you leave the workforce, and now we will cover building a business dynasty. In my book, The Business Builder, I describe Don Leitzell, a financial advisor and a client, who started the succession process well before he was ready to leave the business. He joined the Business Builder program at age 57 to develop a succession plan that would allow him to pass his practice to his son at age 60.
When thinking about your retirement, how does the future of your business play into it? Do you want the firm to live on with someone else at the helm? Have you established the controls and processes necessary for the company to run without you running the show?
Selection of a successor can be a determining factor in the future success of the business. Steven Berglas writes for the Forbes blog that leaders need to ensure their employees or teammates (or in family-run businesses, their relatives) respect them. Being amiable may make your workers like you, but it does nothing for the firm's sustainability and survival.
"A business founder is a fool if he or she fails to recognize that striving to be well-liked by would-be successors (i.e. children) is a double-edged sword," Berglas argues. "In contrast to politicians who lie and strive for likability to get elected, business founders cannot risk being an heir's BFF."
Having a leader they can respect and believe in can make employees more willing to do the grunt work that's needed to achieve business goals, he notes. Although it may get lonely being your staff members' boss and not their friend, that distance is what is needed to exert control over the situation and drive it toward the desired results.
Being civil and kind is a vital point of business for any entrepreneur, it's important not to sacrifice effectiveness and building a legacy for the sake of saving someone's feelings. Being tactful and considerate, yet firm, focused and armed with a strategy, is essential to establishing a dynasty and a business that will live on long after you step away from your role.