Choosing a successor

Choosing a successor to take over the position of Owner/ Operator of your business can often be a difficult decision, and even more so in family businesses. The desire to keep your business within the family when handing the reins over to the next generation means that it is very important to ensure that you have a plan in place, for choosing your successor.

A strategic plan for choosing a successor should take into consideration the interest, availability and suitability of your candidate/s for succession. Try to be objective when considering the candidate/s to ensure that you are handing your business over to the right person, securing the continuation of your business as well as the happiness and security of your family.

If more than one member of the next generation meets your selection criteria, you will need to decide whether to choose one and risk causing friction within both the business and the family, or transfer joint responsibility for the position of Owner/ Operator.

Once one or more successors have been chosen, you will also need to consider an appropriate training program to educate the successor/s in everything they will need to know. Will they start in an entry level position and work their way through the ranks, learning on the job as they go, or will they be appointed a mentor to teach them the ways of the business and the responsibilities of their future position?

A timeline will need to be put in place, charting the period of time that will be appointed to training the successor/s, the amount of on-the-job experience you would like them to have before takeover, and how long the transition period will take before you step down. Make sure that you get the input of the successor/s when devising this timeline, to ensure that it is suitable for all parties involved.