(BPT) - By Kevin Bearley, Next Gen business strategist at Pinion, formerly KCoe Isom
You've worked hard to build your business, pouring your heart and soul into its success. You've had to tackle complex problems and sometimes make tough decisions. It's not always clear which choices are best when running a business, but there is one thing you know for sure: thoughtful planning always pays off.
The same is true when it comes to the legacy of your business.
Whether you are a few years or a few decades away from stepping down, it's essential to plan ahead. You want to leave your business on your terms and achieve the outcomes you desire, which is why succession planning shouldn't be delayed. A formal exit strategy ensures your wishes are followed, whether that be family transfer, sale, employee buyout or another path.
You may have thought about succession planning, but because you're busy, you've put it off or simply don't know where to begin. You are not alone. More than 70% of business owners fail to put a strategic, written plan into place.
The truth is no one knows when the day will come that they can no longer run their business. Delaying the critical task of succession planning typically leaves the burden to the family, who may be unprepared and therefore make uninformed decisions that impact the business and your legacy. Essentially, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
At Pinion, we have seen firsthand the costly damage caused by lack of planning, including undervaluing assets, misappropriating funds and excessive tax implications. These are all examples of costly financial implications, but what can be even more devastating can't be boiled down to a number, such as when brand reputations are damaged, employee relations are diminished and family trust is destroyed.
Succession planning is primarily for when you plan to exit the business, but it can be an important legal tool at any time. One of the most memorable moments of my career was advocating for a $30 million family business serving as an expert witness in a case stopping the former son-in-law from taking a large share of family assets. The judge ruled in favor of the family because of the particularly clear terms in the succession-plan strategy the family created.
Planning now matters