Thursday, April 20, 2017

You Never Know When It Will Happen


On Monday morning, I felt sick.  My computer went blank. Totally!  My desktop was gone!  There were no icons and what was worse, I had no back-up disk.  Nothing! Obviously there was a lesson in this experience.  No back-up disk meant no back-up plan.  Everything was lost!

I realized this is the way things can happen when the owner and key operator of any business suddenly dies.  Information, thoughts, advice, and plans are gone with him or her.  Their valuable resources and knowledge cannot be retrieved. In those few minutes when everything was “black” on my computer, I stared at the empty screen feeling lost.  So much on my computer had vanished; it was frightening to think I would never see it again.  What if this was a real person upon whom everyone was depending?

When I am in need of technology support I call my faithful techie. I refer to him as “Doctor”. I imagine you know who your professionals are in dire circumstances. If you suddenly died, your accountant, lawyer, and perhaps your lender would be called to put things back on track (sort of) because it will never be the same. Some things are gone forever with you.

Here’s advice worth putting into action. Do something.  Work with what you know today.  Put things in order.  Have a back-up plan.  Discuss your back-up plan. No one should be left in the dark without a plan. No one should have to guess your intentions for your business.

I was totally stressed at the moment, thinking “How stupid for not backing up my files?”  I was naïve to believe nothing could happen to my computer simply because nothing had happened until now.

In a faithful attempt, I restarted my computer.  Slowly my computer sprang to life.  Slowly my icons returned to their rightful place on my desktop. Although the files were retrieved, I knew my computer was not healthy. This is a forewarning.  “Fix it because you won’t get a second chance.  When it’s gone, it will be gone forever.”  My computer shook its finger at me for being “stupid” and “naïve”.

Awaiting my doctor’s arrival and diagnosis of my computer’s problem, I saved my files to a new location to prevent this stressful situation from ever reoccurring. I don’t cope well in distressing situations especially knowing they could have been avoided.   

What about you?  Have you taken any steps to ensure others know your plans?  Are you convinced everyone in your business knows your back-up plan (or) do you even have one?

For me, “stupidity” and “naivety” are no excuses for not taking precautions to avoid losing all the work and data. Where would I start to rebuild all this information? While mourning lost information is no comparison to mourning the loss of a loved one and their wishes and intentions, both situations require action.   

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The 4 D’s of Transition Planning

Do you ever notice you are likely to buy into an idea when you understand why it’s important?   Understanding the “why” helps connect the dots of reason to action. It’s funny how as children we often asked the all-too-familiar question, “Why should I do that?” Once we grasp the reasons why an issue or task is important, we are more likely to buy into the idea spurring us into action.   Like a race horse running a track, weaving between the opponents in its path, the objectives are clear. Reaching the finish line means winning the race.  The objective isn’t necessarily to finish in first place.  The objective is to finish strong, believing that the task at hand is worth our time, effort, and in some cases, money.

Taking the first step to work through your transition plan is the beginning of your race to finish strong.   Your first step may be to understand the four factors that justify “Why should I do that?”

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Desire is definitely at the heart of the issue. The reason most people choose their profession is because they have a deeply-rooted passion (desire) for the career they elected to pursue.  Plumbers become plumbers; doctors become doctors; and farmers become farmers because they have chosen to do what gives them the greatest pleasure and satisfaction.


Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  You have the ability to plant the seeds of desire, those things you love most about your profession, in your successor. You are proud of being a business owner.  You built an enterprise with hard work and endured difficult circumstances as well as triumphs.  Your responsibility is to pass along your wisdom, skills, and passion to the next generation of entrepreneurs following in your footsteps.       





Having a direction for your family business provides clarity.   You must discern whether you take a “business first” or “family first” approach.  Does the interest of the business come before the interest of the family? In the development of your succession plan, discussions are important.  Important decisions must also center on timelines.  When do the responsibilities begin to transition in the various areas? You are not required to hand over the leadership role immediately because you may want to remain quite active in the business. However, at some point, you may only want the role of a mentor. When the direction is clear about roles and responsibilities, everyone involved is onboard.  




Changes shouldn’t deter your motivation. You are driven to help your successor transition into the management and leadership role of the business. “Teaching the ropes” to your successor as well as learning the latest innovative ideas from them keeps you active.   Your influence in the business will continue to exist even as your role gradually changes. Your drive, even as a mentor, continues to thrive and survive through the successes of your established business.  




A transition plan allows the dream of your family business to continue beyond your reign.  Pride in the accomplishments you achieved will shift to the pride you have in your successor.  You distributed your knowledge, expertise, and wisdom as well as your assets. Letting go of the responsibilities of running your business allows you the freedom to pursue other dreams you may have put on hold.



You can probably think of other factors for action that may not be as positive as the ones listed above. If you don’t have a transition plan, you may have disharmony in your family rather than harmony.  Everything you diligently build up in your business could disintegrate before your eyes.  Rather than build trust, family members will distrust each other for unknown reasons.  You want to disarm any suspicions about your intentions for the family business before disagreements arises. The difference-maker will be when you are determined, disciplined, and decisive in your intentions to move forward with your transition plan.  Now is the time to begin your race so you can finish strong.