Imagine your business without you. Scary thought, right? That’s why succession planning is an important part of any business continuity plan. Remember – failing to plan is planning to fail. So plan for your successor…and there’s a lot of things to take into account.
Heir to the Throne?
A lot of businesses pass down the line from the founder to the children. There’s a certain logic here – the children can be groomed from the beginning to run the business. That makes the training process easy but it also brings with it some challenges. The kids might not actually be interested in taking over. Or, handing the keys to your kids might be a really terrible idea, and the grandkids might be better, if it so happens that talent skips a generation. But there’s another risk to keeping it in the family: it’s tough to retain quality employees when they think they have no chance at the top job. Choose your successors wisely, and don’t think they have to be from the family.
Overstuff Your Pipeline
You can never have too much talent. If your MSP is of a decent size, and has a deep bench, then you’re a bit more insulated against any departures or defections of key people that might happen along the way. The reality is that people leave, and some of those people are the ones you pegged for bigger things. Have more than one potential successor, at least until you get down to the last year and can start grooming the next leader directly.
Your next CEO isn’t just going to magically appear; you’ll need to train your next CEO. In a big corporation, this is easy and just a natural part of doing business. But in a smaller company, you can forgo a formal leadership training program and use a combination of external training courses and direct mentorship. Whichever option works best for your situation, just make sure that you’re making the people on your team better. Because if all of a sudden you can’t work, and the whole place goes down the gurgler without you, that’s on you. If you can go on vacation for a couple of weeks and it’s no big deal, that’s when you know you’ve done your job as a leader in training future leaders.
If your business depends on you for its survival, there’s the obvious disaster scenario where something happens and you can’t work anymore. Great training, a leadership pipeline and documentation can help offset some of that risk. But the continuity aspect also takes into consideration the idea that one day you might want to retire. If you’re ten years out from retirement, or more, maybe this isn’t the biggest issue, but get into that last five years and you’ll at least want to start work on the succession plan. That’s also a good point to start thinking about how you’ve built your business into something you can sell – that equity is probably a big part of your retirement fund. Your succession plan might just be selling out and walking away, so take that into consideration as well.
Since I do happen to be in marketing, I’d be negligent if I failed to mention that having as much valuable information documented as possible will help smooth any leadership transition. Leave the new leader with as much of your knowledge as possible for best results, and something IT Glue better than anybody else. Give us a few minutes and we’ll show you how we can help.