Making Succession Fun

Monday, December 17 2018

Making succession fun? That’s a little like trying to convince you that going to the dentist will be fun. Necessary, prudent, sensible and probably life enhancing… but can it actually be fun?

Yes. Here are five ways to ensure your succession plan is just that:

Make it a game.

We all like games with clearly defined goals and objectives, dynamic scorekeeping, and rules. Find ways to track your progress. Encourage team effort. Set up some wins.

Make it a learning experience.

Selling your business and transitioning your personal life is likely different from anything you’ve ever done. You have a lot to learn if you want to succeed. Read books, take courses, and participate with other CEOs in peer groups that focus on transition. Many business owners who participate in our Business Transition Coach Forum have fallen in love with their business all over again and have enjoyed learning how to make it more successful in preparation for transition.

Make it a personal challenge.

Set goals. How much do you want to sell the business for? By when? With what terms? Like planning to run a marathon or climb a mountain, you have to prepare yourself, adopt new behaviours, be disciplined, set mini-goals, and measure your progress.

Reward yourself at specific milestones.

Reaching the final goal is the big prize, however, when you give yourself rewards for hitting targets along the way, you reinforce correct behaviours, build your self-confidence and receive encouragement to continue in spite of obstacles. The rewards don’t have to be big but they should be meaningful.

Plan and take a sabbatical.

I have never spoken with anyone who took a sabbatical from their business and regretted it. Encouraged by a business owner who takes a three month sabbatical every year to travel and do service work, I took a six-month break from my businesses in 2008. It was one of the best decisions of my life. You can have fun both planning and taking the sabbatical. Discuss it with your family. Brainstorm ideas for what you would do if you had the time and money to take six months off. Would you travel around the world? Sail? Climb mountains? Write a book? Contribute to the development of a third world country? Learn to paint or play a guitar? Hike the Camino or West Coast Trail?

Will your succession plan be painful or fun? You can choose to make it more fun and minimize the pain. It’s all about perspective and planning.