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.       

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