If you sat down today to write a list of pros and cons regarding your journey as a business owner, hopefully, your pros list would be the longer of the two. Sure, creating, launching and growing a business to success is wrought with challenge, but it can certainly be a tremendously rewarding experience as well. Whether you've owned your business for only a few years or have held the reins for decades, there's something to be said for bringing a dream to fruition and keeping it going.
Still, an inevitable fact of life that affects every business owner is that nothing lasts forever. There comes a time when each life comes to an end; therefore, if there's no plan in place for someone to carry on the torch of a business, what will become of it? It's also very possible that something unexpected may occur at some point in time where you determine it necessary to pass your business on to someone else.
Are you ready for succession?
Some business owners in the past have compared business succession to giving away a daughter's hand in marriage. Just as a protective father hesitates and often questions a young man's character and ability to provide for a wife and family, so too do many business owners ask themselves how they'll ever find someone who will love their businesses as much as they do. Those who understand the importance of planning ahead may find the following ideas helpful:
- Many successful business leaders take time to groom their own successors. This process may take months or even years.
- A good way to begin preparing for succession is to create a special emergency plan that includes instructions for who will take over your business should you become incapacitated or suffer an untimely death.
- It often helps to make a list of your own responsibilities and duties within your business so there is a clear record of what you do that no one else does.
- Choose a person or several people who you believe could fulfill your tasks if you were no longer at the helm, and have a meeting to discuss a plan for the future.
- You can incorporate your business succession plan into the estate planning process.
When the time comes that you are no longer the head of your business, you still want it to be successful. Therefore, the more your future business leaders can do as you move toward the future, the better. Making yourself less essential and others more crucial to business operations is key to a smooth business transition. If your business succession plan involves members of your own family, you can overlap it with your will and other estate planning documents.
You certainly want to make informed decisions and have all the best resources at your fingertips as you design a future plan for the business you worked so hard to build. To do this, and to protect your interests and provide for your loved ones' future financial stability, it may be wise to rely on experienced guidance. An experienced probate and administration attorney is prepared to provide assistance in all aspects of the business succession and estate planning process.