Succession planning for closely held business owners is a bigger challenge than getting the business launched. During the launch and growth stage, the owner is very much in charge. They live with the consequence of their decisions. Some are very good. Others are “opportunities” to learn what not to do next time.
In succession planning, getting it wrong can delay transition for years. Not only must one have to go back and repair damage, they must also begin anew their search for the succession. The question always lingers in the founder’s mind, whom can continue my dreams to a new level?
Another challenge we founder’s face is the desire of accepting the reality it is time to go. Go onto another arena to have impact. My own journey has lasted nearly 20 years. Life events caused me to first consider transition in my 50’s. I thought here is an opportunity to move closer to my grandchildren. Literally, the night before signing the papers to affect the transition, something the potential buyer said caused me to stop and walk away. That led me on a decade journey of fits and starts, without a true successor. With prayer and family encouragement as a man of faith, I turned the problem over to a power greater than me.
Along came my successor after this letting go. He and I are similar to the core, though different at the macro. Together we have made a strong cord, not easily broken. In the last few years another person more aligned to my side of the brain joined us. He is actually far better in relationship building then me. The results have been a cord of three, integrating our unique skills. The succession pair have worked hard to honor my established culture, while moving forward with their dream.
The letting go, while celebrating their success, has been a mixed bag for me. Kubler-Ross’ steps of dealing with change have certainly been experienced by me. They are shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance. Any major life change, one will travel these emotional steps to acceptance.
For us, we came up with a gradual buy out formula. It took us the better part of a year to hammer out a fair and equitable agreement. We are in the transition consulting business. The big difference here is the emotional engagement. I have described it as the same experience as walking my daughter down the aisle and giving her hand to a man asking myself, “will he love and cherish her in the same way Mom and I have done?”
Trust is such a precious intangible. Having trust creates positive energy and results. Doubting makes the journey far more painful. Wan to have a conversation about succession? Please reach out to me. I have done many, now including my own.
Securities and investment advisory services offered through World Equity Group, Inc. member FINRA and SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. SMART Group Houston and Ron Schutz-Planning Business Transitions, LLC, are not owned or controlled by World Equity Group, Inc.
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