If you want to free up your time to focus on the bigger issues necessary to transition your business, you need someone who will begin to take on more and more of your current daily workload. Ideally that person will be, or have the potential to become, your successor. For our purposes, we’ll define a successor as someone who can earn the right to take on more and more of your duties and eventually assume your title as owner or president.
Your success in achieving your personal transition goals and driving change will be predicated on identifying a worthy and capable successor. Once you’ve chosen, you’ll be coaching, training and testing his/her capabilities, preparing that person to carry the baton.
Who you choose as your successor will depend upon decisions you’ve already made. If you’ve decided to:
- Sell your business to a third party, choose someone who can help you grow the business, in spite of the fact they may or may not be part of the deal when it gets sold.
- Sell your business to your children, groom one or more of your children to become the leader(s) and ultimately owner(s) of the company.
- Sell your business to your employees, choose someone the employees respect and trust to take over the role of leader. This could require additional years of preparation if none of your existing employees have the necessary drive, interest or skillset required to lead. Be careful not to assume that an employee who has been a good manager will be a good business owner.
- Keep your business as an investment and have someone else run it, choose someone who is respected and trusted by you, your family, your customers, and your employees.
In addition, if you plan to continue to draw money from the business or hold a mortgage, you’ll want to know that your successor is fiscally sound and will do whatever it takes to pay you in full and on time.
Finding the right successor to run your business isn’t easy. You may work with several candidates before you find the right one. Better to start the process sooner than later; so you have the right person when it’s time to delegate the running of the ship.