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If you’re over 55, you’ve been getting junk mail for at least a few years advising you to think ahead about what will happen when you’re gone.

passing-it-onPlain-speaking version: after you’re dead.

That’s a topic that every business owner, and business leader, needs to examine closely, too. What will happen when you’re gone? When you retire, when you cash out, when you deploy whatever your exit strategy turns out to be?

A key part of that exit strategy is making sure your exit doesn’t flatten all the tires on the bus of the business. Or worse, knock the wheels right off that bus.

If you’re running a successful business, you have to think of it as part of your legacy. However, you can’t just write a will saying “everything goes to [insert heir here]” without helping that heir understand all the ins and outs of the enterprise.

Who will take care of your clients? Who will keep production running? How will business development continue?

What’s the plan, Stan?

I’m prompted to think about this topic after losing a friend too young recently. Well, he wasn’t years-young, but he was dreams-young, and that made me think that everyone – doesn’t matter if you’re 25, 35, or 75 – who is responsible for the continuing health of an organization must make a fully-fleshed succession plan to guarantee the organization doesn’t die when s/he does.

Who can you groom to take the reins? Have you drawn up the “what if?” map of how your team will move forward if you’re not there to lead them? Have you consulted with an expert who can draw you the full map of a succession plan?

Talk to other CEOs that you trust. Ask them how they built their legacy plan. If they look at you like you’re speaking Martian, talk to the law firm that represents your company. Or simply Google “succession planning” and your city, state, or ZIP code.

If you’re in the US mid-Atlantic region, you can just start here: Assura Consulting. (Full disclosure: not a client. Just folks whose expertise I trust.)

Otherwise, the terrific enterprise tree you grew from a seedling might wind up ground to pulp.

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it …

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