Any successful entrepreneur will come to the moment where they hand the control of their business over to someone else. Whether it is because they have sold their share of the business, or due to retirement, this is a momentous day for good reasons and bad. Good, because you’ve got a successful, growing endeavor to hand over to someone else. Bad, because endings are always tinged with sadness, even when there’s a lot to be positive about.
There are a lot of preparations involved in a handover, and if you’ve done well enough you’ll be able to outsource a lot of the planning to someone else. However, there are some things you’ll need to manage yourself, and it is on those that we will focus here.
Staging is essential
Passing a business on, especially if it is a family business, is something that benefits from being done gradually. Going from having both hands on the reins on Friday evening, to letting go completely by Monday morning, isn’t good for you and it’s even worse for the business. The first step should be scaling back your involvement – letting someone else attend some meetings in your stead. The next will be deciding definitively who you want to hand over to – and making sure they want this. You should then, at a certain stage, announce your plan to retire. Not only does this allow more formal succession planning, it also allows employees to see that things won’t change beyond recognition.
Withdraw any financial interest
When you step back from a business, you will retain an emotional connection with it; it’s impossible not to. This will only be complicated further if you maintain a financial connection, so you can take a dividend in respect of your contribution and consider your next steps with the likes of the Family Wealth Group. It will always be better to be sought out for advice than to offer it and be ignored, so make sure that stepping away really means stepping away.
Smooth over any discord – for good
When you hand over a business, there is always going to be some discord. Some people will feel they should have been the recipients. Others will argue over the future direction of the company in a new era. This should form part of the succession plan; the company doesn’t move on until everyone is signed up – legally and ideally emotionally – to the plan of action. Those who can’t reconcile themselves to the future can take their leave and plan their own futures; those who are on board can focus without distraction on the future. What you don’t want is to hand over a live grenade to your successor, which is what they’ll be getting if differences aren’t aired.
It isn’t easy to step aside from a business you’ve built, but the greatest testament to your success is that there is something there to hand over. Taking the time to enjoy a break and wishing your successor all the best will be all the sweeter if you’ve covered the above steps.