Last year we began the process of creating succession plans for each role in our company. We’re early on in this process but began with creating a succession plan for our CEO. To do so, we engaged a consultant who specializes in estate planning for family owned businesses. He helped us think through the steps we needed to take to ensure the heir apparent was prepared to fill the shoes of the CEO if the unexpected were to occur or when the CEO was ready to retire.
One of the first questions we examined was, what information does only the CEO have today? What passwords, documents, etc? We then thought through, if an unexpected event occurred, what are the first calls that the successor would need to take? What steps would be critical to take in the first 30 days to ensure the business remained stable? He also pushed us to think through the current strengths/weaknesses of the heir apparent and develop a plan to prepare for the succession to take place.
The consultant also helped us review the key owner’s personal wills and trusts and helped us rework them to ensure the ownership interests in the company would be smoothly transitioned in the event of death.
Talking about these topics is never easy but it’s critical when you own a business and have employees who rely on you day in and day out for their livelihoods. You have to be very proactive in succession planning as it’s not something that happens overnight. Writing the plan is only step 1, actively working the plan until the succession takes place is where the true work takes place.
Sarah Weiss is a founding partner and COO of Elite Roofing Services. Her full bio can be found here.