Putting your company into the hands of a successor is a big deal. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a family member or a key executive. It’s a big step.
Of course, they need to learn the business. They need to become familiar with the products and services, the systems, marketing, finances, etc. And they also need to develop their leadership abilities and owner mindset. Those are more difficult to acquire.
But as your gut tells you, even that isn’t quite enough…
You see, even when those attributes are developed there remains one more piece that needs to be in place to ensure success and business continuity. They need to have the right personality.
What is the “right” personality? That’s where things become much more difficult. Not only can it be a challenge to determine whether they have the personality you’re looking for, but it’s even a greater challenge to determine what that personality should be. Here’s why.
You’ve had the right personality for your business (or at least you developed it over the years). After all, your personality helped you to build your business to where it is today. Maybe you’re high energy or maybe you’re very disciplined. Maybe you’re excellent with customers or maybe you’re great at solving problems. Perhaps you’re supremely self-confident or maybe you’re very goal oriented. The list goes on and on.
But when it comes to choosing a successor, you first need to ask yourself whether the personality traits that got the business to where it is today are the same ones needed to take the company into the future.
It takes a certain type of personality to start a business. It takes someone with determination and the desire to succeed in order to persevere through the rough spots as the business takes flight. But are those traits still as important now that the business is well established? Probably not.
Starting out, it also requires an owner to wear many hats. But as the business matures, the need for versatility diminishes and the need for specialization becomes more important. Does your successor need to be the “rain-maker” for the organization or is it more important for them to be the strategic visionary?
These are some of the important questions that need to be asked and answered, and only you, as the owner, can answer them. Often, answering those questions can be a challenge. One reason is that our tendency is to look for someone just like us. It’s human nature to do that. A second reason is that we all have blind spots and can’t see what we’re missing.
Because of these issues, it helps to have an unbiased sounding board to talk things through with. Because this person needs to be unbiased, without an agenda, it needs to be someone outside of your company and outside of your family. In addition, they need to be somewhat business savvy. Good candidates for this person could be a business-minded attorney or accountant, fellow business owner, or an experienced executive coach.
Only after you decide on the kind of person the business needs in the future can you begin to evaluate and select the right successor. If you’d like our help with this, please contact us. We have successor assessments and years of business experience.