The authors of "Family Business Succession: The Final Test of Greatness," say that ideally, succession planning should begin 15 years before you intend to retire from your business. So, if you are 45 or 50 and planning to retire at 60 or 65, there's no good reason to put it off. Starting now will allow you enough time to choose and develop your successor from among multiple possible candidates. If you're considering transferring the business to a sibling partnership, it allows you time to develop the siblings as an effective management team.
Why do so many business owners put off this essential planning phase?
Kendall Rawls, public relations and marketing representative for the family owned succession planning business, the Rawls Group, says in many cases it's simply a way to avoid difficult conversations among family members or -- possibly -- avoid thinking about your own mortality. It might help to work with a succession planning expert, who can serve as a mediator or facilitator of important, but awkward, family discussions.
Experts say it's important to view succession planning as a process rather than an event.
Handled correctly, business owners can find great rewards in assuring the continuity of an organization that will foster a strong family identity and perpetuate the family's values, goals, and well-being in generations to come, according to "Family Business Succession."