Or is it?
An ongoing topic of concern for business owners is what is to become of the business they have built once they decide to step away.
We have all seen the statistics that paint a dire tale of the state of succession planning. Most business owners have no plan at all, or the mere shred of one that hasn’t been broadly discussed with family and/or long time management. In other words, the plan assumes that these parties will be on board with the plan; cue to old joke about what happens when we assume.
The reality is, however, that whether you have put a studied, well considered plan in place or not, there will be a succession.
So, for those who have not put a plan into action, what will happen in your business is might just look more like a classic power struggle.
The Game of Thrones Model. Deciding that you will wait to see who will emerge the victor in winning your business, for that true leader to step forward, has it’s benefits. You will have a strong leader, someone who is passionate about the business and willing to go to great lengths to ensure success. The problem is that the rest of the team will be dead. Well, not really, but they will have been trampled in the rush to power, and may end up demoralized or departing. Losing great people will put your business at risk and any income you if might expect to continuing. It might also mean that you have to step back in, which is probably the last thing you want.
King Lear Strategy. In the classic tale, the king looks to divide his kingdom among his children, but without a real plan, and without a real appreciation of whether they wanted the burden. Lear of course ends up wandering blind in the wilderness, while intrigue dominates the court. If you’re thinking your family should take over the business, make sure you have the full discussion and plan. If you don’t it might look more like you’re abandoning the business than passing it along.
Wizard of Oz Plan. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. If this is you, great. Whether you’ve done it intentionally or not, you’ve empowered everyone from the members of the Lollipop Guild and the Palace Guard to take care of business, led by a trusty, smart, brave trio. You may need to formalize the plan, but likely you’ve got the elements in place to get it done with a minimum of drama. Done right, you can hop aboard your balloon and fly off, confident the kingdom will continue to provide for all those within its purview.
There is always the possibility that passing along the business may mean selling it outright, but for those considering that option, it’s worth noting that this may not be a clean a break as you might imagine. It may also have very different implications for your employees.
In any case, it’s always good to keep your options open by getting started on a plan for an orderly hand-off.
Rember, winter is coming, whether you plan for it or not.