Hiya! I’m afraid I can’t avoid apologizing again for missing a post. Sometimes things move so rapidly and we find ourselves unable to fulfill commitments. However, failure is only temporary, and we need to get right back on our feet and move on with boldness and courage – pressing forward towards our goals and objections including our vision and mission, the entrepreneur style. It has got to be this way, less we lose focus and have worse consequences. Don’t you agree with me? I promise not to allow any setback to set me back. I will always move on. I believe in the saying that every setback is a set-up for a step-up. Nothing holds me down.

I thought I should get back to the subject of succession planning today. I first handled this topic in my blog entitled ‘Succession Planning For An Entrepreneur’ some time back in May 2016. I mentioned the importance of succession planning, the need to start early, and a few issues on the approach and guidelines to succession planning. My article entitled ‘Why An Entrepreneur Must Delegate’ might also be helpful here. Today I would like to expound on the need for entrepreneurs to start succession planning early. I would like to talk about why entrepreneurs need to start succession planning early enough and not wait until the last moment. It might be too late, and the efforts made in building the business might be wasted.

By the way, I’m assuming that you are an entrepreneur who takes succession planning seriously, and you are set for it. Alternatively, you intend to place due importance on it when you develop your business. I know there are entrepreneurs (and other leaders out there) who don’t like this thing called succession planning. There are entrepreneurs who will hold the business cheque book (symbol of power) so hard, and will never release it until nature forces them to release it when they do not even know what is happening around them anymore. Come on, you don’t need to die with the cheque book and statutory instruments of the business in your hands. Be smart and mature. Delegate early and relax.

So, why should an entrepreneur start succession planning early? What is the right time for an entrepreneur to start succession planning? Is it advisable to start succession planning early? What are some succession planning tips that are useful for entrepreneurs today, and that help propel enterprises into success and guarantee their future? Let’s take a look.

  • Succession planning is a form of delegation and this has multiple benefits that you need to take advantage of early. I don’t intend to bore you by again and again enumerating the advantages or benefits of delegation. I think my article mentioned above on delegation is a good starting point. So, Mr. Entrepreneur, you do yourself and your generation including your enterprise well, by boldly working on succession planning early enough. Learn to delegate early, and develop other leaders in your enterprise. Don’t be a selfish leader. Good leaders develop other leaders. Your enterprise can benefit greatly by early succession planning.
  • Transfer of knowledge and experience takes time and need not be unnecessarily hurried. Do you know that transfer of knowledge, experience, skill, expertise etc. requires time? As a seasoned entrepreneur probably over the years you have horned your business skills and expertise, and have also undergone through quite a wealth of experiences. These certainly brought you to the success that you now love and probably boast of. People hold you in respect because of all these. You have also taken some jabs and hits along the way, but your successes outweigh your failures. Now, someone stepping into your shoes needs time to learn all these dynamics, otherwise one can easily run away when challenges come. Do you now appreciate why I say that you need to start succession planning early? Don’t worry that someone will take over your glory! Ok? Share your success with other people also in the interest of your business empire. I know that as I talk about ‘Business Empire’ some people will be laughing simply because some of their enterprises are far from an empire. Don’t you know that you can be a king in your little world, and also grow your world or kingdom? Despise not small beginnings! Read my article on this topic – Why An Entrepreneur Must Never Despise Small Beginnings.
  • You can avoid big gaffes by handing over to someone with reasonable knowledge of your business. Ha yayayaya! When I talk about business gaffes (read mistakes or blunders), I remember my comment I made some time back that there are people who absolutely look blank or opaque after losing big money. Do you understand what it means to the business for a novice entrusted with the business to sign an economically or financially terrible contract on behalf of the company? How about the silly legalities that can make another trading party get free money from you in the courts of law? What about a product launch or business expansion plan that simply goes so terribly wrong that you feel you should have never even dreamt of it in the first place. Talk about knowledge. I guess you wouldn’t want to lose sleep because you have a novice in charge of affairs in your humongous business when you are bed-ridden. It could be a nightmare. So, be smart. Start early. Do you get me? Come on!
  • Not all potential successors and delegatees are fit, and you need time to identify this. My dear entrepreneur, you will realize that occasionally you might not be sure of whichever person you are planning to succeed you. I don’t care whether this is a son, daughter, cousin, one of the key directors, your best and most loyal employee or whatever. You might need to take some time to test this person, to ensure that they are up to the task and fit properly into the big role. When will you have the time to do this if you don’t start early? Delay at your cost. By the time that you urgently need a good successor and you start shifting the senior guys around in an effort to restore some sanity into the business, I won’t be there with you. You will only have yourself to blame. Isn’t this true? I have seen some catastrophic change after change (sometimes within a few months) of CEO’s in some companies, and these simply show me that they never did good homework about succession planning. So please, avoid being newspaper headlines because you refused to start succession planning early enough.
  • Research shows that people that are promoted within the business do better. I’m going to make reference to some research carried out in the US here in this blog. Don’t blame me for using the US as an example. Even if you dislike the US with a passion, suspend that dislike for some minutes and just get the point I’m talking about here. Ok? There is this book by Jim Collins entitled Good to great; and another one the same Jim Collins wrote together with Jerry I Porrass entitled Built to last. Now, candidly these are very great business books based on research conducted on many businesses in the US over some decades. If they are not great to you, they are great to me. One of the principle results of the research indicates that companies that develop staffs internally to executive roles do better with these executives than executives brought from outside. So, don’t ignore my point here my friend. Guarantee the success and continuity of your business through this approach. I’m not making a powerful research presentation with hundreds of citation here, but I’m simply referring you to a book that you can read if you like. This is another powerful reason why an entrepreneur needs to start succession planning early, and even internally.
  • Good business leadership requires all-rounders and time is required to develop all-rounders. When I talk about all-rounders I don’t mean a jack of all trades and master of none. Ok? I mean executives with vast knowledge about the entire business. Something about the production cycle; something about the market; something about finance; something about human capital; something about business law and tax; something about something. Are we together? Do you understand why some big companies do what we call cross training? I mean, taking marketing executives and ensuring they work in finance for a while, or taking finance guys and ensuring they do business development for a while. I can’t help imagine a mean figure-loving and figure-dreaming accountant reluctantly moving into a human resource role and trying to cope with the grey science of understanding human beings. Something far away from numbers. What is all this about? Developing all-rounders. You can only succeed in having a well-rounded and soberly-aggressive all-rounder to succeed you if you start early.
  • Early succession planning releases you into strategic and advisory roles. Another important reason why you need to start succession planning early is the need to free yourself into more strategic and advisory roles. I mean, at some stage you need to do nothing, stop over managing and become a great leader. Again I quote J. Keith Murnighan’s book entitled ‘Do Nothing’ here. I’m not telling you to slouch onto a coach and sleep. Ok? Better look for this book and understand what I mean by doing nothing. If you are lazy in reading, that is up to you. Possibly one day I will explain this in one of my blogs if I get the appetite, but  I could do it in a rather complex way too.
  • Starting early allows incremental and gradual release and helps you overcome your fears. Again, some seasoned entrepreneurs have a phobia for delegation and letting go. You can’t entirely blame them. They have seen their enterprises start from nothing and grow into huge conglomerates possibly over 40+ years. Psychologically, it’s not easy to let go and yet it is absolutely unavoidable. Therefore, the idea to start early and gradually begin releasing power, authority and control over the years, is a nice idea and takes care of the phobia to some extent. You might not even notice that you have handed over everything by the time you are done with that gradual process. You might start looking for non-existent things to handover, while your successor laughs quietly from within.

Now, seriously, I need to stop here. No recaps. No summaries. Just bye and swiftly!

With best wishes,

The Wise Entrepreneur

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1 Comment

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