Choosing the Right Business Successor

Choosing the Right Business Successor

All small business owners know that a day will come when they are ready to retire or move away from running the business full-time. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you want your business to retire with you, particularly after you’ve put so much energy into making it a success.  Choosing the right Business Successor will ensure your business continues to grow even when you step away from the day-to-day grind.  Here’s how to identify and train someone who you believe will be a competent successor.

•  Ask a family member.  Have a conversation with them early on to make sure it’s something they even want to do. If they are interested, make them a part of the business as soon as possible, so they can start learning the ropes from the ground up. Remember, everyone isn’t cut out to run a business so it’s crucial that you be honest in evaluating whether or not this is the correct person to run your business.

•  Make an evaluation strategy.  Come up with a list of the qualities that are important to ensuring the business’ success. This will help in narrowing down your list of candidates to a few high performers objectively, rather than merely considering people who you feel personally attached to.

•  Consult with top clients.  If you put your business in the hands of someone disliked by your biggest customers, they may look to one of your competitors once you’ve left your day-to-day role.  This may make it more difficult for the business to survive the transition.

•  Find out top candidates’ intentions.  Talk to your top contenders to find out whether they are committed to your company for the long haul. Ask if they have aspirations to run a company of their own since some people would prefer not to have a job that requires so much commitment. Through honest conversations, you’ll not only learn key information that can help you make a decision, but you may realize that some of your employees may be better suited to take on other roles in your business.

•  Fill the successor in on your plans.  Once the choice has been made, let the person know exactly what you have in mind. That gives the person a chance to develop a sense of ownership in the company, and ensures that he or she doesn’t look for better opportunities elsewhere. Set a time frame in which the transition will be made. Make sure this transition is communicated throughout the company. Once everyone knows your successor, there’s time for other key employees to adjust to working closely with this person. It gives you time to make your successor familiar to key customers, clients and partners. Gradually hand off more responsibilities to your successor so when your retirement actually comes, the successor will already be running the business.

Have you already chosen your business successor?  How well did the process go for you?  Do you have any advice to share?  We’d love to get your feedback in the Comments.

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