Transitioning ownership of a business can be stressful for all involved, but there are things we can consider to ensure successful transitions. Whether the business owner is ready for the transition or not, there is a range of emotions tied to exiting the business and putting it into the hands of someone else.
Activities to Help Successful Transitions
There are many tangible things that can be done to help with the transition process, including:
- Starting the process early.
- Understanding the value of your business.
- Engaging a team of experts including a coach.
Key, but less tangible is your attitude toward the transition. This can have a great impact on the success and the stress levels of all involved in the succession process. A study published in the Journal of Business Management and Accounting* suggests that the attitude of the predecessor toward conflict can influence the success and ease of the transition.
Check your Attitude
The business owner is ultimately responsible for the successful transition of the business, so it is important to check your attitude. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How successful do you feel the process will be? Why do you feel that way?
- Are you happy with your successor? Why or why not?
- What are your biggest concerns? Have you voiced them to the successor? Why or why not?
Attitude Can Be Modified
If you find your attitude needs to be improved, implement one or more of these actions:
- Schedule regular frank discussions with your successor. Undoubtably, you will be having discussions to review action plans, timelines, or complete training, but take some time to just talk to the person. Detail each of your concerns and discuss potential solutions. This will clear up misunderstandings and break down communication barriers.
- Set goals together. During transitions, many business owners start to question where they fit. Working toward goals gives us purpose. Being part of the goal and understanding your role will help bring focus and positivity.
- Define what isn’t going to change. Change and the “unknown” cause a lot of stress for most people. Clearly outlining what will stay the same will reassure not only the business owner, but also the employees.
- Have fun. Congratulations! The fact that you’re transitioning your business means that it was successful enough for someone else to want to be a part of it. Be proud of that. Enjoy the fruits of your labour and look forward to what comes ahead.
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* Salim et al. Attitude toward Conflict and Family Business Succession, Journal of Business Management and Accounting 6(1) 75-89.