Secure your goals and vision with succession planning

At best, business owners view succession planning as a time-consuming chore; at worst, they avoid exit planning altogether and suffer the consequences later. Every owner, including you, will eventually leave his/her business, one way or another. Creating a succession plan is your opportunity to impact the future for you, your family, and your business.

Thinking of succession planning as a sailing expedition can help make the process manageable.

Sailing to success is easy with the right planning
Set sail to your Life Beyond Business

Envision: What is your ideal destination?

You are the captain: Identify your goals and unconscious expectations as the business owner.

  • Income – how much will you need to live the lifestyle you want?
  • When would you like to transition out of your business?
    • Are you ready? Don’t ignore your emotional needs for you to succeed before, during, and after the transition.
  • Do you want ongoing involvement/investment in business, as in a staged exit? Or do you prefer to walk away after a short training period?
  • Legacy – what do you want to support long-term, including charitable organizations, trusts for family, schools?
  • Values & personal objectives – are there important considerations regarding your community, employees, customers, etc.?

Bring in your crew: Identify the needs, goals, and expectations of any other owners, family, management, employees.

  • Hold a family meeting, as well as individual management meetings to discuss everyone’s needs and goals with the understanding these are considerations, not commitments.

Plan: Chart your course

Planning for success means formulating the ideal situation…and then preparing for contingencies.

First mates are your lifelines: Management planning – Who can best perform your tasks (responsibilities, skills, relationships) after you’ve left the daily operations of the business?

Hope for smooth sailing: Develop a best-case scenario –

  • Prioritize and balance the needs and values of everyone involved.
  • What is necessary to ensure a smooth management transition?
  • Consciously recognize your income, lifestyle, and legacy goals in the succession plan.

…But plan for choppy seas: Explore all the options.

  • Weigh goals vs. what is legally and financially feasible.
  • Realistically analyze the finances and operations of the business with a market valuation.

Check the forecast: Project the future viability of the company through a SWAT analysis of the industry.

  • Strategize steps to improve company value to close any value gap that would prevent you from satisfying your objectives.
  • Remember that succession options include family succession, third-party sale, management buyouts, Buy-Sell agreements, ESOPs and other structures.

Achieve: Set sail to your Life Beyond Business™

Chart your course and begin your journey: Design and implement the succession plan.

  • Create a map of what your succession plan will achieve and how the business will look after the transition.
  • Inform the other stakeholders.
  • Draw up legal and financial documents with the appropriate professionals.

Correct course: Review and revise the succession plan annually to maintain relevance and to address changing tax and estate laws, life changes (divorce, disability, the death of stakeholders), and business/industry changes.

Your Life Beyond Business™ of your dreams is within your reach with the right succession planning. This will take time and diligence, but your goals are worth hiring a professional to guide you through this process and keep you on track if needed.

Dave Driscoll is president of Metro Business Advisors, a business brokerage, valuation and exit planning firm helping owners of companies with revenue up to $20 million sell their most valuable asset. Reach Dave at or (314) 303-5600.

As seen in Dave Driscoll's column in St. Louis Small Business Monthly
As seen in Dave Driscoll’s column in St. Louis Small Business Monthly

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