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I'm a smaller company . . . .

So is Succession Planning for us? I noticed that much of the reading I was doing on the topic was from consulting companies that referred to global organizations. Most businesses, while doing work outside of their own geography, are not of the scope/scale of the organizations referenced.

We do not have the 'stomach' for major programs

It our last Blog post, we referenced that Succession Planning is a process. The research that addresses small/medium companies and/or family businesses use that word as well. Ivan Landsberg, a Yale University expert in family businesses, coined the term Succession Conspiracy. Forces against a company's leadership starting this process include:
  • Reluctance to let go
  • Personal loss of identity
  • Fear of change
  • Norms against discussing 'mortality'

Start with Communication

To make succession work, the process needs to be discussed - pointing out (in actual truth) that this is a long-term process - 3 to 6 years in advance. Talking and actual planning can then be done in small but planful steps - with a timeline. The goals of the long timeframe are anything but transparent and very important:
  • Pass the business along successfully
  • Reassure employees, suppliers and customers (and family members if appropriate) that the business will continue
Statistics on family-owned businesses, a large portion of all businesses, are not optimistic regarding transitions. It is estimated that only 40% of businesses make it to the second generation; roughly 12% make it to the third generation. At the end of the day, the company leadership has no greater responsibility than identifying who will foster the company's continued viability and success. Start the process today.