Succession Planning: For Business Owners, the Last Step is Sometimes the Hardest One

Succession Planning: For Business Owners, the Last Step is Sometimes the Hardest One

By Chris Cooper, Director, Ohio Employee Ownership Center at Kent State University 

Every business owner will exit their business in one way or another. It can happen on their timeline, or it can be forced by circumstances – but it will happen. The question is whether they will be driving the process, or if circumstances (and other people) will be manning the wheel. How this “last, and greatest, test of entrepreneurship” is handled will go a long way to defining the future of the business, and the legacy of the owner. It will impact family and personal relationships, the next stage of their life, and the amount of money they put in their pocket.

Most business owners I meet understand their business at a very deep level – at least in terms of the product or service they offer their customers. In other words, they know how to work in or at their business. What is sometimes lacking is the knowledge, skills— and sometimes merely the time—to work on their business. Ultimately, the deficit is often felt hardest when it’s time to figure out how to develop a successful exit plan.

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