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Leave Room For The Unexpected

Updated: May 28

We built four kennels at our farm to house four bird dogs. It was part of our plan. The unraveling of that plan started with a phone call from their caretakers.

Mr. Harry! Mr. Harry! the dogs got tangled up!

The result was way more than four dogs! Two litters and thirteen puppies later, my plan was gone!

It turned out that the undoing of my plan was an unexpected blessing. When I made my plan, I didn't know that I would lose two of my dogs and my hunting buddy brother would need two. In short, I needed those puppies.

The story about these dogs illustrates a principle to remember in succession planning. Leave enough margin in the plan to take advantage of new and unexpected opportunities.

How is this done?

1. Don't be too detailed.

You can expect the unexpected. Some things just can't be predicted. When you share your plan each year, you will lessen the power of unpredictability with your advisors. But even then, the unpredictable will happen.

Some unpredictable things will be good. Sales could go through the roof. Your business valuation could be far more significant than you could have planned for.

Some will be not so good. Some people in your potential successor pool might opt out of the plan. Your business valuation could be smaller than what you planned. Your health could fail.

A friend of mine, Jim's heir apparent, had to drop out of his plans because of his health. This created an unexpected opportunity for Jim's two sons. Their introduction into the new plan released new joy, energy, and fresh ideas into the business. Today, they are prospering beyond all their dreams.

2. Update the plan annually.

Looking at your plan annually allows you to make changes and anticipate what you should make room for. One significant reason entrepreneurs get stuck is a lack of adaptability. They get stuck somewhere in past plans that have become un-doable.

Looking at and updating your plan annually promotes adaptability. This "adjust as you go" is like a tune-up and becomes a great lubricant for needed adaptability.

Succession planning is required when you understand that there can be no success without a successor. And, with a successor, your business will continue to make a profit so you can bless the community and continue to advance its purpose!

Remember: Leave enough margin in the plan to take advantage of new and unexpected opportunities.

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