Thursday, June 18, 2015

Succession Planning...It Starts Now.

Cathy A. Robinson, CPA
Senior Manager

Succession planning isn’t always the first thought on your mind as a business owner or professional.


You have put in the time, the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears that have made your company or your profession what it is today. How could you possibly just hand over the reins to someone else?


The truth of the matter is simple you can’t predict the unpredictable.  


There are several ways to leave a company:





Expected departure

Involuntary departure

Eventually your partnership with your company will end, and it is important to make sure you are on a path that is suitable for you, your company, and your clients. What would happen to your company or your partner should you unexpectedly pass away? What would happen to your practice if your partner wanted to leave to be closer to his or her children or grandchildren?  Or, what if your children didn’t want to take over the family business?  Do you have the necessary steps in place to help with any of these situations should they arise?


Addressing these questions sooner rather than later will help you deal with the unavoidable later on down the road.  In fact, there are two tips mentioned by lawyer Eliot M. Wagonheim in a blog on Huffington Posts that are especially important to keep in mind.


1)      Consider a valuation. Use an expert experienced with doing valuations in your industry for an appraisal of your company.

2)      Work out a purchase agreement with your partner utilizing your accounting professional to ensure everyone is receiving a fair share of the company.  Having a plan in place will help to avoid any possibilities of a sticky situation when someone leaves, expectedly or unexpectedly.


Talking with your family members is also important if you own your own business. If you plan on passing the business down, make sure they have a serious interest in taking it over. If they do not, you need to start planning for succession or the possibilities of selling off the business.


If you are in the professional service industry, it is also important to sit down and have a conversation with your clients.  Planning according to what is best for the client and the long-term relationship with your company is crucial. The best and smartest succession plans begin with a thoughtful plan that incorporates the wants and needs of your existing and developing clients.


Spending just a few hours to put a plan into place now can keep you or your partner from putting fires out later, while helping to manage emergency situations later should they arise.  The earlier you begin planning for the next stage, the better the chances of your company’s continued success will be.

This update is published periodically by HW&Co. as an information service to our clients, business associates and friends. It is general information and professional advice should be obtained before acting on any comments contained in this document.