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What's the First Step in Succession Planning?

Succession planning can be an overwhelming thought. There is so much to be done. “I don’t even know what I don’t know.” There are so many potential issues. There are so many opinions. There are so many places where things can go wrong.

Correctomundo on all points. However, confirmation of your challenge is no reason to resort to ruminating, having no hope, disengaging from pro active behavior and just waiting for a wheel to fall off.

There is hope. The most important proactive behavior you can initiate is to start. If you do not start, you will truly never have a chance of fulfilling your dream of perpetuation your family’s business legacy. Although mistakes of the past with business structure, products, finances, children or key managers may be right in your grill, the problems are converted to issues once you make a commitment to address them. Problems are issues that you are unwilling (not unable) to address. Given enough time, where there is a will, there is a way.

And the start does not have to be world shaking. A small start is not only compatible, it is preferred. Why? Because you do not have to worry about being the brainiack. Small starts allow you to set a commitment, set a direction and give yourself plenty of room to negotiate the family, finance, feeling and Federal tax law mine field.

What’s the best first step? Commit. Decide that you are going to do everything within your reasonable capability to perpetuate the business through the next generation of family members of key managers. You hope it will be family but in the absence of a capable, committed, cooperative and available family member, a key manager will do just fine.

How do you commit, communicate. Tell the four to six most important people in your life that you are making a commitment to succession. That group should include your spouse, your children, any partners and any very special or special key managers and your attorney or accountant. When you tell them that you have made a personal commitment to the succession of your business through the next generation, ask them to hold you accountable. This start, this small start will start moving the wheels of the succession train.


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