Congratulations! The fact that you’re reading this means that you’re at least willing to think about succession planning, which puts you ahead of most people. There are so many topics to cover – we’re going to start with six simple questions to get the ball rolling. Today’s question: Who is the best candidate to succeed you?
There’s no point in putting off things that are uncomfortable. And making a determination in regards to who your successor will be might be the most uncomfortable part of succession planning. That’s because most family business owners have other family members in the business. In particular, their children are involved. And while the idea of one of your children running the business may sound like a great idea, is it really the best idea?
Here are two questions to ask yourself before putting your kids in charge: Are they qualified? Are they interested? Those are both extremely difficult questions for a parent to answer. Yes, you know your child better than anybody else, but the reality is that (as is the case with a lot of situations as a parent) it’s hard to separate what you want from what’s best for your child. Think about how you’d feel if you put some random unqualified person in charge of your business. Now think about how you’d feel if that unqualified person was your child. Think about the situation you’d be creating for them. Think about the stress, anxiety, etc., not to mention potential financial hardship. Is that what you want for them? And what would that do to the business?
And do they really want the job? There are a lot of people running family businesses because they felt that they were obligated to do so because that’s what Mom & Dad wanted. Do you think those people excel as leaders of the business? Or do they do just enough to get by?
You can see why so many people avoid this question altogether. It’s easier to just pick somebody (often a child) because it creates less short-term conflict. Unfortunately, you’re setting up your business and your child for a terrible situation. It is difficult for a parent to make a fair evaluation – so get help. Find an outside third party you trust who can help guide you through the process of evaluating strengths, weaknesses, unique abilities, etc. It will be challenging in the short term, but the long term health of the business (and perhaps your family) depends on it.
Do you know who your successor should be?