We invited Wellington Holbrook, executive vice-president of ATB Business, to pose this week’s Capital Question on succession planning. Read on to see what he and our members had to say on getting your business ready to run without you, and check out the spread in the Oct. 9th edition of the Edmonton Journal.
“It really boils down to mentorship and empowerment. Make sure that at every level of the organization, people have a good idea of what the person they answer to is responsible for and what their job entails. Moreover, if you don’t trust others and empower them to make decisions today, when you leave they will be starting from square one and are much more likely to fail. Empower your employees to make decisions and correct their own mistakes, and in the long run, you will likely not only increase the longevity of your business but its productivity as well.” — Dennis Bridges, partner at X5 Management Inc. (x5management.com)
“Find someone interested in the business, then train them and sell them shares of the company. Then they have a stake in the business. Plan the transfer so that they get a larger piece of the business as they slowly take on more and you reduce your involvement. This transition could be over a short period, but a number of years would be best to make it smooth.” — Les Grajkowski, Padgett Business Services Edmonton (padgettalberta.ca)
“When dealing with business partners, an essential piece of succession planning is having a buy-sell agreement in place should one partner become disabled or die. This ensures that the other partner can buy the shares of the first partner, and that the resulting funds will go where they are needed. Personal life insurance is also important for business owners.” — Samantha Khaw, financial security advisor with Freedom 55 Financial (freedom55financial.com)
“Start by documenting every system you have. Then create job descriptions, decide how you measure the success of each position and understand what the critical drivers are so you can measure them on a regular basis… You should have a systems manual.” — Laurie McNaughton, business coach at ActionCOACH Business Coaching (actioncoach.com/lauriemcnaughton)
“The first step is to accept that the organization can carry on without you — a bold and daring statement for any entrepreneur. There are many options for succession planning — like aligning your family or board around the business strategy, or developing a sustainable and reliable talent pipeline — but the most important thing to have in place is an emergency replacement plan. A planned succession is difficult, however, a sudden loss can destroy the organization through rivalry, panic and a lack of due diligence.” — Darryl Moore, vice-president of marketing and communications at Executrade (executrade.com)
“It might be a little easier for someone in a big company to answer this than an owner of a small, independent business, but I would suggest a couple of things. Don’t be afraid to delegate and share or teach others what you know and what you do. Some people are hesitant to share information or take time to invest in others because they feel it may devalue their own worth, but in fact, that is short-sighted thinking. As well, surround yourself with good people. People are key andinvesting time and attention in them is critical to building a solid team that can keep things humming when you’re not there.” — Wellington Holbrook, executive vice-president of ATB Business (atb.com/business)
“Building processes and systems is the key to grow and to make your business carry on without you. Stop micromanaging your employees and start trusting them by giving them more responsibility. Streamline your products and services in order to built better processes which will increase your results.” — Ali Salman, director at Rapid Boost Marketing (rapidboostmarketing.com)
“Key components of a strong succession plan include getting reliable information and building a strong team to help you exit successfully…Your succession planning team should include both formal and informal advisors… that can help you address the key emotional issues that you’ll face as you plan your exit. Set up periodic meetings with each team member to address specific issues as they arise.” — Gordon Sheppard, business advisor at Succession Managers Incorporated (successionobsession.com)
Photo by Calum Graham, shared under Creative Commons License.
If you want to learn more about succession planning, RSVP for our next event, “Succession planning: How do I replace myself?” on Wednesday, Oct. 16th featuring Codie Richard from Zender Auto Group, Linda Maul from Creating People Power and Paul Riopel from Emergency Response Management. Attendees will be entered to win a pair of tickets to an Oilers game courtesy of ATB Business… Bring a friend to double your chances to win!