Planning to sell or buy a business is never easy. When facing succession planning in a rapidly changing workforce, it takes time, clarity and thoughtfulness. In a recent Xero webinar, Adrian Simmons, CPA, shared his experience of taking over his father’s accounting firm and some important tips for those ready to transfer the reigns.
Here’s some of his top tips for smooth succession planning:
Give it time
When it comes to succession, emotions will affect your progress. It’s about working with these emotions, rather than against them. It all takes time. When re-mapping brain intellect, you don’t want to rush it. Once you’ve built a successful transition plan, discuss it with those involved in advanced and stick with it – especially when family members are involved.
Letting go is difficult, but take the time and step back gradually – rather than cutting the cord abruptly – and you’ll make it easier for everyone. In the future, when the transition is eventually complete – ensure that you do truly step back. As tempting as it can be to check in from time to time, keep your distance and let your successor do their job.
Part of an effective succession plan includes organizing an orderly handing over of the reins, including what is going to change and how. Talk to your team about the transition and involve them in the conversation – don’t create an air of secrecy.
Involve the right people at the right time. Consider the establishment of a taskforce comprised of staff that will help manage the transition. It’s incredibly helpful to have a united front working to ensure things run smoothly.
It’s important to choose the right time to approach customers and loop them in on the firm’s eventual succession. If you have close client relationships, ask yourself how you’ll make sure clients are taken care of consistently – ensuring they and your staff feel comfortable.
You can also do this by making sure you’ve considered your existing client base and what they will look like in 10 years. Your successor needs to have the right skill sets and knowledge to service them, not just now but long into the future.
Succession won’t happen overnight, but by having the right conversations, with the right people, at the right time, you can facilitate a smooth transition.