The art of letting go: how to find (and keep) your successor
Whilst starting and growing a business can be tough, letting go is harder still. Yet, it’s something all business owners must face one day. Letting go is the logical, successful conclusion of all your hard work.
When you’re growing your business and things are going well, finding a successor may not be very high on your priority list. So why bother? There are two main reasons: one is to put in place a key element of your exit plan (and the sooner you think about your exit plan, the more options you give yourself), and the second is to ensure you have a business to come back to if you have to step away for any reason.
These five steps will help you start your exit planning journey and find your ideal successor:
1. Accept that you will not be running the business forever, even if you do retain ownership. Remember, exit planning is nothing to do with your mortality or ability – it’s a sensible approach to getting back the time and money you’ve invested in your business.
2. Profile the type of person needed to take on the next phase of the business. As part of your exit plan, consider what opportunities and challenges lie ahead. Do you want to accelerate growth, enter new markets, or attract investment? Understanding what you want to achieve will be invaluable in profiling the person you need.
3. Allow yourself time to find the right person. He or she may already be in the business and waiting for the opportunity, or you may need to conduct a structured search using professional advisers. Whatever route you take, don’t cut corners or go for the easy option of someone you know if they aren’t 100% right. Likewise, avoid the temptations of hiring a ‘lookalike’ or skimping on the package and getting someone less able than you need.
4. Ensure you have a shared vision of the future you want to build. Exit planning means securing your future wealth and the long-term success of your business. Getting this appointment right is critical in achieving those aims. Whether or not you’ll be involved going forward, you want to make sure you and your successor are aligned and working towards common agreed goals.
5. Don’t get in the way! Having found the right person and made a commitment to your successor, don’t (after an appropriate period, of course) stand over their shoulder. It’s the surest way to lose the person and put you and the business further back than where you started.
As logical and sensible as all this is, letting go is still a challenge. That’s where a business adviser with exit planning experience can provide much-needed support. Discover how Henchards can help with your exit plan, or read more in our new exit planning white paper, Cash today, wealth tomorrow.