Many successful businesses are owned by Baby Boomers who would like to start stepping away and enjoying fruits of their years of labor. This requires special thought and planning and the time to begin is now. The planning will involve strategy, process, and people.
There are number of steps that should be taken to prepare. These include legal, financial, and selection of the right person to shadow you and take over the business. In the first two areas you should work with an attorney and financial planner who understands tax laws. Remember too if this is a family business, and you have other children who will not follow the business how will their inheritance be handled.
Now whether you seek succession of your business to your children or whether you seek to exit through sale you need to develop a strategic business plan. Your plan will need organizational vision, values, and mission.
If your business has no vision, then it has no future. How do you see your business five to ten years from now? What business are you really in? Who are your real customers? If you know the answer to these questions and you include it in your vision you have taken an essential first step. You should then be clear on your values. Core values are vitally important to customers and employees. Next, you should follow through with goals and action plan for achieving those goals.
Your business plan should be clear cut and convincing to an outside party. This could include banks and other strategic partners. Ask yourself how you would fare if you had to present your business plan to Shark Tank.
You must select the right child or recruit someone outside. You will need to do a though benchmarking of the most important hard and soft skills required. Then the benchmarks are used to assess candidates. This is very important if you want to get it right. Put a leadership development process in place now so that you can gradually step away. This process should include on the job challenging assignments as well as formal development. Such processes will help you and your team to discover their strengths and weaknesses and develop their skills. As this develops tweaking will be required. It will also help in the mutual discovery of who fits into what role. Remember, you need one president and CEO. Pre-conceived notions can be deceiving. This is a work in progress. It will take a few years but you will need guidance along the way.
Many people spend more time planning a two-week vacation than they do the future of their business. You spent your career building your business. Make sure that it carries on as you intended.
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