My father has owned his own company for as long as I can remember. The name and central product have changed a few times over the years as he's sold one business or another and developed new products, but its always been in the IT field.
When talking with him recently, my father recalled a conversation he had with my brother, John, back when John was in high school where he asked my dad something along the lines of, "What are 'we' going to do with the business in the future?"
Now, the closest my brother has come to an interest in the IT industry is (in my opinion) a somewhat unhealthy obsession with the Super Mario Bros. video games he had as a child. Despite showing no discernable attraction to the field, my brother just assumed he'd be taking over from my dad one day. My dad laughed, said "we?" and changed the subject.
This month's issue reminded me of that little anecdote from my dad, as we are featuring two thought-provoking articles on the all-important intertwining issues of succession planning and business development. I know my brother, a decade later now happily employed in the recruiting industry, was not the first person to make such an assumption when it comes to the family business. Often it's the other way around, the parent assumes the child will take the throne - when in reality it's not the right fit.
No matter who will be taking over your company or whether it will be sold instead, now is the time to proactively plan for the future of your business. In his column, "Put it in writing" (p. 30) Jack Kwicien breaks down the reluctance behind putting together a written business plan and how the very act of writing out a plan forces one to think about the future and come to terms with today's marketplace.
Surely factors Kwicien mentions: a large percentage of baby boomers reaching retirement age at the same time, the devaluation of the industry over the last several years, and the fact that setting up a proper succession plan can be a five- to 10-year process are some of the reasons behind the startling statistics in our feature article, "The consequences of failing to plan" (p. 26). A recent American Management Association survey showed only 34% of respondents believe the senior leadership at their company is genuinely committed to succession planning.
For an industry that makes its money advising and selling others on securing their future through proper planning and preparation, taking the time to make sure your own business is on the right track should be a no-brainer.
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