Sticking to a succession plan and overcoming an ‘epidemic of spinelessness’

Posted On April 18, 2018

The first step to succession planning, as with so many other things, is realizing you have a problem.

Succession planning expert Wayne Rivers, our guest in this week’s episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston,”has seen it all play out many times: An aging business owner tells his son he’s going to turn the company over to him, but then can’t bring himself to let go of the reins and the company suffers in a self-inflicted limbo.

With everything else in life edging out of his control – his health, his mobility, his kids’ lives, etc. – the business owner holds fast to the one thing he still has control over – his company. “It’s so common you wouldn’t believe it,” Rivers says.

Rivers, who addresses the importance of disciplined succession planning in his book, The Eight Building Blocks for Creating a Sustainable Closely-Held Company, shares with us why that’s a bad and potentially business-killing idea.

If the father can’t see it, however, Rivers says it’s up to the son to talk some business sense into him – and be ready to walk if he won’t take it.

In fact, Rivers says the succeeding generation is often as guilty, if not more, in creating such a situation as the preceding one. “There’s an epidemic among successor generations in family businesses,” Rivers says, “and the epidemic is spinelessness.”

While he’s seen many cases of businesses floundering while the succeeding generation tries to wait out a recalcitrant owner, Rivers says the few cases in which he’s seen a son stick to his guns and leave, he’s ultimately been asked back, set his own conditions for his return, and has been wildly successful.

With Baby Boomers turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 per day, it’s more important than ever for business owners to have a plan for the company after retirement. Fortunately, Rivers says there’s a “magic bullet” to a successful succession – if only owners and their offspring and employees will embrace it.

Join us to learn what that magic bullet is and to hear Rivers explain why having a succession plan – and sticking to it – are so vital.

Categories: Downloadable Media, Entrepreneurship, Generations, Podcast, Workplace