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Succession Planning Requires a Voice From Somewhere Else

Updated: May 23

Ellen with her hands over her face in desperation.
Ellen paid for her inaction...

I have written about Ellen before (Ellen Didn’t Plan for Success). Alone, she built an amazing and lucrative niche business. She has grit, the quality that allows an individual to work hard and maintain focus—not only for weeks or months, but for years.

But Ellen’s strength, unguarded, became a double weakness.

Unguarded strengths can become a double weakness in succession planning.

After twelve years of success, Ellen desperately needed her daughter, Jane, to help in the business. Jane joined her, fresh out of college.

Little did Ellen know, Jane had a different vision for her role in the business. After five years, she expected an equity stake in the business.

Ellen was offended. She felt Jane’s desire for ownership was premature. It was deeply personal to both of them.

Focused on survival, succession planning had never been Ellen’s priority. Now, the subject brought tension between her and her daughter. The animosity became so great that Jane withheld her children from Ellen, the grandmother. They were barely able to exist in the same building.

With the help of an outside voice, they worked through it. Jane is now the majority owner. Sadly, Ellen was not given the opportunity to thrive and now has a ceremonial role.

The business is only able to continue because they used an outside resource in their succession planning. But they almost waited too late. They live with the emotional scars of their struggle.

Ellen and Jane could have avoided tremendous damage to their relationship by having intentional conversations about succession earlier. Optimally, the conversations should have happened before Jane came to work in the business.

The Cultivating Impact Six-Step Succession Planning Method calls for twelve conversations. These conversations center on what it would take for your business to thrive in your absence.

Why don’t these conversations happen? Usually because the senior leader does not initiate them. Or, sometimes, the senior leader refuses to engage in these conversations, shutting them down.

A legacy business is created when the senior leader accepts the responsibility for initiating these conversations. Bringing in a person familiar with succession planning as a coach is the spoon-full-of-sugar that helps the medicine go down!

Entrepreneurs who leave a legacy business embrace the value of including outside voices in their succession planning. When you add a succession planning coach to your team, the process becomes doable and even enjoyable.

What would it be worth to you if I coached you and your team over the next year to help you with your succession planning?

Shortly, I will be publishing my new book. Until then, I am considering a “beta” test group at a greatly reduced cost, to coach a group of entrepreneurs through the succession planning process. This will be a six-month group built on the concepts of a peer advisory board, or mastermind. 

Imagine establishing your legacy over the next twelve months with a trusted coach who has walked where you are now. In return, I will learn a lot from you!

You are welcome to reply to this email and we will set a time to talk.

To your legacy business!

Harry T. Jones

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