Making your will

Have you made your personal will? Probably; after all, it’s the right thing to do, isn’t it?

So why do so few business owners do the same thing for their Company?

You want your children to inherit your wealth without undue hassle. But how much thought have you given to who inherits your business; and who will secure its future success?

When I mention Succession Plans to people, it’s not hard to see folks switching off. There are more important short-term issues to deal with. ‘It can wait – I am fit and healthy right now’.

A scary true story…

So let’s approach this from a different angle – a real-life present-time story.

The owner of a very successful business consultancy sat down in her armchair last August Bank Holiday Sunday, and had a dose. Tragically, she suffered a brain haemorrhage and never woke up. Totally unexpected. She owned all the shares and was the principal contact for the firm’s blue-chip Companies.

Her personal will was clear enough. Her husband inherited all the shares. But he had no interest in the business. The present employees were unprepared for this tragedy, and there was no natural successor with the same level of experience to take it on. So what will happen?

What will the new owner do with a business in which he has little interest or knowledge?

Will current staff remain with all this uncertainty?

How will presently loyal customers react as time moves on?

How will the business set about winning new work in new markets without their principal business-winner?

Right now, no one has the answers, and time is ticking on.

How to avoid this predicament?

Start by having a clear business plan for the next three years.

Include in it the management structure that will deliver the results.

Assess your current team; can/do they fulfill the roles designated in that structure?

Identify any skill gaps and decide whether or not they can be filled from within.

If not, carry out a thorough and disciplined recruitment plan.

And that is the basis for a long-term Succession Plan. Simple, but…

This all takes time

It can take anything from three to five years to put in place the right ‘future-proof’ structure and get the key players performing at the right levels.

And here’s the trick: this same process is essential for selling your business when you retire for best value. So it’s not just a question of securing the business against the unexpected arrival of the Grim Reaper. It’s about ensuring that your legacy will continue once you have retired, allowing you to have a long and happy retirement, leaving behind a happy and motivated team to take things forward.

And that has to be good news for everyone, doesn’t it?

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