When The Leaders Leave

How safe are the passengers in your business?

Suppose you are flying across the country. The plane descends to 4,000 feet. The cockpit door opens and the pilots walk down the aisle wearing parachutes. They open an exit door and jump.

Say Goodbye to the pilots. From a linked-in idea by Georg Dirnberger.

What would you do if you were a passenger?

If you are the pilot of your business, much the same discussion arises. What would the employees, lenders, customers, and suppliers do if you suddenly left. Then there is your family. It isn’t like there is an easy replacement to be found for the pilot. Seeing the problem in the abstract is useful.

Businesses are easier to deal with than are airplanes, because there are things the owner can do now to protect the passengers.

Have a fire drill type succession plan.

  1. Who signs checks?
  2. Who communicates and reassures employees, customers, lenders, and suppliers.
  3. Who knows what projects are underway?
  4. If it might be permanent, who can find or be a buyer?

Start work on a long term succession.

Eventually you must leave.

  1. Will family, employees, a competitor, or some other entity be the buyer?
  2. Are redundant assets removed from the operating entity?
  3. Are liabilities organized to support the plan?
  4. What is the training program?
  5. When is the target date?

How does the funding work?

Having enough money lets you be neat.

Life insurance and disability insurance are consequential requirements. It is false economy for you to save premium money. Properly designed an insurance plan will protect against a problem that happens suddenly or happens much later in life and becomes part of the estate plan.

Not every dollar earned must be reinvested in the business. Some should be taken away and invested in dissimilar assets. Diversification applies to far more than just your investment portfolio.

Pay attention to taxation. There are many accessible dollars that can support the succession plan. The government will let you have them, but you must ask by appropriate structuring of the business.

Develop the habit of thinking about things in a long time continuum and acting in the present to deal with what you see.


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