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You Gotta Know When To Hold ‘Em Or Fold ‘Em

Updated: May 28


One of our businesses had done well for sixty-six years. Succession planning called for us to create success for a new generation of leadership in our absence. The plan took twenty years and multiple rounds of family buyouts to develop a management-owned business. The resulting new management team saw seven-fold growth during the next two decades. This kind of growth could not have happened without planning for the time when we would not be around. Succession planning brought us through many crossroads. Good planning brings you to crossroads. Excellent planning will take you through crossroads or make your exit very clear. In the world of poker, you gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em! There are two choices: (1) be actively involved in your organization's succession plan for the next twenty years, or (2) execute the plan for your exit. Our succession planning clarified the need for a new distribution center. Paying for that would take another twenty years. This brought us to a crossroads that demanded a decision from our team: make the investment or exit the business and allow another generation of leaders the opportunity to grow with that investment. We chose to exit. That brought a whole new opportunity for our team: to work with a larger organization. Choosing that buyer before we left became a high priority. Twenty-five years later, that organization continues to grow its profitability, bless the community, and advance its purpose. More often than not, there is NO planning for leadership success in the absence of the present leader or team. This lack of planning hinders your company's present and future impact. Lesson: The lack of planning for your business's future without you hinders its present and future impact. Many entrepreneurial leaders decide to sell their business and are sorely disappointed. This disappointment happens when their enterprise is not attractive to potential buyers or investors. A plan for your company's success without you preserves impact and makes your business more attractive and more valuable. Lesson: A lack of succession planning hinders the attractiveness and valuation of your business. Successful entrepreneurial leaders develop a talent pool of leaders around them to lead the business in their absence. These leaders embrace the value that outstanding leadership reveals itself in their absence rather than their presence. Many leaders are stuck missing the optimum exit point in their business because of the lack of succession planning. They also lose their competitive edge because they cannot afford to be away from the company. They are often burned out, not even realizing it. Their ideas are stale and dull as dishwater. How do you get started? Recognize that you will eventually not be present to lead your company; you will leave either in a hearse or in a moving van. Accept your responsibility to lead the charge in developing a succession plan and execute it! (Read more here) Harry T. Jones


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