Saturday, October 3, 2009


Yesterday, I made a presentation on business succession planning at the Niagara EXPO and the conversation with the group was facinating!

The conversation focused on the three elements of successful succession: Financial, Organizational and Personal transition. My beginning mindset was on business leaders and business owners contemplating retirement.

But the majority of people in the room were not business leaders or business owners! They were middle managers and even a couple of folks just out of college who were a long ways from retirement. So I 'fine tuned' the presentation to fit their interests and backgounds.

I had a similar experience a few weeks ago when I presented to a group of financial planners. I started talking about business owners and discovered that many in the room had shifted their 'take' on the presentation to their personal situations!

The neat thing about both experiences was that the three part focus: financial, organization and personal resonated with both groups! I discovered that no matter where a person is in their life, when they step back to gain a perspective, they have concerns/interests in all three areas.

They discover that they need to think about where they are and where they want to go - and then make 'life adjustments' to get themselves on track to live a live that will be rewarding and fulfilling to them. They must live their lives by their standards and values, not someone else's.

So I'll keep my three part focus but expand my perspective to a wider range of people including business leaders and owners and others, too.

Monday, September 28, 2009


A few days ago the Gallup Organization published the results of an eight month survey that showed that business owners have the highest overall well-being of any occupation group – followed closely by Professionals and Managers/Executives.

Another article, published immediately after the Gallup publication, said the findings ‘reflect the importance of being able to choose the work you do and how you do it. The way you manage your time, and the way you respond to adversity.”

In other words, business owners and, to a slightly lesser extent, professionals and managers/executives, derive greater ‘psychic income’- emotional satisfaction – from their work than most other groups.

It's no wonder they don’t give much thought to retirement – what they will do in the ‘third phase’ of their lives. I hear comments like: “I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” “I just going to keep on doing it,” “I’m not ready,” “The company isn’t ready,” etc.

Thinking about making their transition requires them to take time from what they enjoy (love!) doing – so the put it off ‘til later, ‘when I’ve got time.’

The downside is that they are in danger of suffocating their business – the very thing that the have spent their life building!

They run out of personal energy and ideas, the company loses its competitive edge and the best of the next generation, the potential future leadership, seeing no opportunity for growth, move on while the mediocre hang and ‘settle in.’ Slowly, the business ‘dies in the vine’ and the leader’s lifetime investment is squandered.

Every business leader – to assure a successful transition needs to ask – and answer – questions in three key areas:
FINANCIAL - How will I transfer my wealth out of the business into my personal portfolio?
ORGANIZATIONAL - How will I create my legacy – a strong, sustainable company that will thrive after I retire?
PERSONAL - How will I build a meaningful ‘third phase’ of my life – something I am looking forward to after I retire?

Doing all this takes time – time to transfer your wealth, time to build your organization and develop the people to lead it, and time to create your new life. Waiting too long can limit, even destroy your ability to make a successful transition.

No matter how much you love what you are doing now, it’s essential to start planning early. When is the right time? It all depends on your specific circumstances. The key is to start early rather than late. Start too late and you can lose every thing you built – and end up ‘lost in the wilderness.’