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The Foresight That Is Allowing Gil’s Company to Thrive: Succession Planning

Gil smiling because he did succession planning.

You and my friend Gil have a lot in common. You care about succession planning.

Succession Planning

For Gil, the hard lessons around succession planning came early on. He learned from his predecessors who neglected this crucial process until it was nearly too late.

Three partners founded the company. Two tragically pass away within a short span. The remaining partner finds himself in a precarious position. His son-in-law, the closest potential successor is woefully unqualified - an alcoholic with an explosive temperament and oversized ego.

Unwisely, the founder delays any leadership transition plans.


The delay proves costly. Years pass as the founder remains stuck in limbo, unwilling to let go yet unable to identify a successor. His health begins declining until finally, at a crisis point, the baton is essentially ripped from his hands against his wishes.

It is a cautionary tale that sticks with Gil as he looks to the future of the company years later. He watched as his predecessor’s transition unfolded messily, marred by family drama and a lack of preparation. Gil vowed not to repeat those mistakes.

He recognizes that even if he doesn’t plan on exiting anytime soon, proactively building a strong leadership team is crucial for the business’s long-term success and longevity. So

Gil initiates the 7-step succession planning process:

  1. He has candid conversations to confront his fears around succession planning.

  2. He reflects on the unique positive impact his company makes.

  3. He works to develop the business as a sustainable mission beyond just the founders.

  4. He brings talented leaders on board, gives them an ownership stake, and grooms them to eventually take over.

  5. He establishes a guiding credo rooted in the company’s core values like “caring for our people builds customer delight.”

All the while, Gil remains at the helm, but with a capable team in place prepared to one day receive the baton from him.


Then an unexpected opportunity arises that validates Gil’s foresight. Another company becomes available for acquisition - one that could grow Gil’s business by over 50% if integrated properly.

Many entrepreneurs might have balked at such a complex transaction late in their tenure. But because Gil has followed the succession planning process years earlier, he has a strong next-generation leadership team ready to take on the challenge.

His identified successor takes the lead on due diligence, deal negotiations, and developing the full integration strategy. Gil remains involved as a mentor and advisor, ensuring the acquisition aligns with the company’s mission and values.

Today, Gil’s successor is thriving at the helm of the expanded company, with Gil cheering him on. The acquisition’s success showcases the power of being proactive about succession - having a team in place allows Gil’s company to capitalize on an opportunity that otherwise may have passed them by.


Too often, entrepreneurs ignore this process until they’re forced to confront it by crisis. Gil chose a different path by laying the groundwork well before any transition was imminent. He ensured his life’s work could live on, adapt to changing landscapes, and keep multiplying its impact for generations to come.

Where are you in the succession process? It is never too early to get started.

Harry T. Jones

P.S. There is an old proverb that says that the best time to plant a tree was thirty years ago, the second best time is now. You can start your succession planning by getting on the waiting list for the next Succession Planning For Impact mastermind. You get a board of peer advisors, and each month a virtual meeting together and private consultation with me. Email me at with “mastermind” in the subject.

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