Recently, I spoke to a group of women business owners about succession planning. Some were in business for more than 15 years, others for 4-5 years, and others had just started.
Because succession planning is an integral part of estate planning, over the next couple of months, I will share a few insights from that meeting for readers who are or who advise smallbiz owners. So, let’s get started…
When considering succession planning, where WE are also our clients, we must ask ourselves 2 questions and answer realistically: (1) WHY are we planning and (2) WHEN is the best time to plan.
We all know the obvious answer to why to make MORE MONEY for “retirement.” However, beyond making more money later, succession planning provides 2 ancillary benefits. One benefit is that it can provide a more successful business NOW; the second benefit is that “retirement” will not be chaotic.
How does succession planning help your business now? As you begin succession planning, to ensure your plan’s success, you must shift your perspective from that of a “job holder” who happens to run the job to that of a CEO who runs a multi-faceted enterprise. This “multi-faceted enterprise” idea may seem a little wonky at first. But if you consider all the hats you wear during the week to accomplish all the functions needed to service your clients or customers, you’ll get the picture. With proper succession planning, even solo business owners eventually shift from doing everything to delegating non-critical components to others, freeing up time to address critical components, performing essential leadership functions, and doing some fun business activities, such as blogging, tweeting, or connecting in person.
As you make this shift from job holder to CEO, finding personnel or appropriately using current personnel to perform non-critical client/customer functions, something else occurs to benefit your practice now and in the future: personnel morale increases and, consequently, personnel become more productive. By shifting our perspective, we become more conscientious when hiring, even interns or part-timers, and create more current value for our business.
You will recognize – for the sake of your succession plan – the need to nurture, groom, and develop the talent. Today’s buzz word is mentoring. But these aren’t just mentees; these are individuals who work for you and who you want to continue working for you. As a solo or smallbiz, your talent development program may not be formal, but it should at least be a cognizable, supervisory, mentoring program with regular reviews and 30-60 minute “check-in” meetings.
Now, you may wonder how you can afford to carve out this time in such a competitive environment like the one we’re in today. Frankly, that’s being short-sighted. Because if you’ve been mentored or supervised by an outstanding boss, then you can probably recall your morale lift and sense of pride you felt as you developed. You can also probably recall the converse, when you were treated like a minion, degraded, and dismissed. By providing personnel with meaningful tasks, constructive feedback, and respecting and giving them credit for their good ideas, we’re creating more productive personnel, thereby actually giving us more time to devote to VIP client and customer matters. This makes clients happier and happy clients are good referral sources.
So this answers one of the “why’s.” The next piece, will consider the other “why.” Stay tuned…