As I go through succession planning with clients, I find that it is one of the more emotional things that a business owner will deal with in their career. The owner has put a lot of his or her own blood, sweat and tears (so to speak) into the business to get it where it is. It’s their baby; something that they have nurtured along for many years. Seeing someone else take over the business, even if it is a close family member, is hard.

Throughout my 7 Steps to SuccessionSM, both the senior and successor generations have a lot of hard decisions to make. They really have to look in the mirror to be sure they each are making the right decisions since these will affect their futures.

Towards the end of the planning process, Step Six in fact, I drill down with each generation to make sure that there are no outstanding issues and that everything is solidified in writing. That is one of the most important steps! Of course something of this nature has several official documents, but it is the act of getting the plans (goals) in writing that shows permanency. Think about SMART goals; many of us have them. But it is the act of putting that goal to paper – having it visible – that really keeps us focused on it.


In Step 6, I work with the senior generation to make sure they have reviewed their Estate Plan, or put one together if one doesn’t exist. This should be done periodically anyway, as families grow larger or change, depending on births, divorces or deaths. The prior Succession Steps lead up to this point, but this is when some of the details are flushed out and put into legal documents. Will the owner provide for future generations through various trusts? What about charitable donations? Before the owner retires, these items should be thought through.


At this time, I also work with the successor generation as they put together a comprehensive Business Plan detailing the vision for the future of the company. This is where there needs to be buy-in from other senior management from within the company and possibly special advisors that are brought in to work with the successor generation, such as leadership, business or change advisors.

It is very possible that the Mission and Vision of the company going forward will be similar to what it has been, but the successor generation may also want to do away with some ‘older’ thinking in favor of what they see as the up and coming trends for the future. But getting that buy-in from others within the company to these changes is crucial for a successful transition.

Once this step is complete, the senior and successor generations should be ready to complete the transition, knowing that the legacy of the senior generation is firmly in place and the company is in good hands.

If you want to learn more about the 7 Steps to SuccessionSM, please join me on Thursday, November 3rd from 7 – 8 pm at the Indian Prairie Public Library District in Darien as I share my 7 Steps to SuccessionSM plan to help guide you through the transference process of a private family business to a new generation. To register for this FREE event click here.

If you cannot attend that presentation, you are welcome to contact me here and we can schedule a time to discuss this in person or on the phone.