Insights & Info

Insights > Understanding the Importance of Succession Planning

Understanding the Importance of Succession Planning

By Generational Equity

Succession Planning Business

If you own a privately-held business today, I have two questions for you:

  1. Do you have a documented succession plan in place?
  2. Have you run this plan by your trusted advisors? (family, attorney, CPA, etc.)

Sadly, according to a recent article in USA Today, for the majority of small business owners, the answer to both is a resounding no:

“58% of small business owners have no succession plan. Most of those with no plan (78%) blamed their lack of planning at least partially on enjoying ‘managing their company too much to start thinking about a future transition’ while 42% said they were too busy to plan, and 44% felt that succession was ‘too far in the future’ to need to establish a plan now.”

This situation is further compounded by this reality as we have discussed before:

“60 percent of the 15 million privately held businesses in the U.S. are owned by business owners born before 1964.”

This means that about nine million businesses will face some sort of decision about the succession of their company over the next 15 years or so. For the 44% of the owners surveyed who felt that succession is too far in the future, it really is not! The future will be here faster than you can imagine.

It’s Never Too Early to Start Your Succession Plan

These statistics are not only a poor reflection on our business community’s attitude towards responsibility; they represent a dilemma that can be completely solved simply by coming up with a plan.

The issue for many business owners is that they have no idea what their options are or what succession plan makes the most sense for their situation.

Far too many business owners assume one of two scenarios will one day occur:

  1. One of their kids will take over the business, or
  2. A key employee will buy him/her out

Both of these scenarios have serious issues attached to them.

First, have you even chatted with your kids about succession? Too often business owners who attend our exit planning conferences only do so AFTER being told by their offspring that they have no desire to take over the reins.

This leads into another issue: Are you sure your child has the aptitude and/or ability to be a CEO? It is one thing to work in the mailroom, quite another to make the leap to CEO.

Not to mention the insult that could be felt by key employees who have been with you for decades if you hand the company over to your child as your succession plan.

Finally, both of these scenarios carry a huge financial burden to the departing owner. Most offspring and key employees lack the financial capacity to deliver the maximum value for your business.

Odds are good you will have to carry paper financing the deal, which most likely will pay you out over a 5-year to 10-year period. If the business falters under new leadership, what does that do to your payout?

Find Success with Succession Planning: Exit to a Third Party

For these reasons, we highly recommend to business owners that they thoroughly explore a third option for their succession plan: Transferring the business to a third party via a partial or complete sale.

This option is by far more financially lucrative (in most cases) and removes the burden of hoping that offspring or key employees even want to replace you or doubts over whether they’re capable of replacing you.

This is how the USA Today article sums up the situation:

Everyone dies and many people retire to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Succession is not an easy topic for a variety of reasons. It's hard to confront your own mortality and not fun to tell a family member or trusted employee that they won't be taking the reins as your replacement. Still, it's selfish and dangerous to not address these issues. The best way to control what happens to your business -- in many cases your life's work -- is to take the proper steps to execute your plan.”

If you find yourself part of the 58% that have no succession plan, then you REALLY need to attend a Generational Equity exit planning conference. These meetings are not only highly educational, but they often give business owners the momentum to begin their exit planning process. This may not even be as clients of ours, but on their own by going home and having frank conversations with family members about the future.

If you have no exit plan or succession plan in place and/or you lack the knowledge about how to even begin, you should consider attending a Generational Equity exit planning meeting. Held throughout North America, these conferences will give you the knowledge base you need to start the journey to achieving maximum value.

To learn more about our conference, use the following links:

By Carl Doerksen, Director of Corporate Development at Generational Equity.

© 2021 Generational Equity, LLC All Rights Reserved

Make an informed decision

The best decisions in life are informed decisions. We release educational business insights like this every week. Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss the latest news, views and analysis.


Success, you have been added to our list.

We will highly recommend Generational Equity and Musa Jagne to any business owner about to embark on the same process.
Karen S. Williams, CFO, BW Manufacturing
I wanted to write you a quick letter to express our appreciation and our delight on the outcome of helping us through the process of our recent sale. We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.
Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
Greetings Mike. Thank you for the captivating and compelling presentation you made at the Phoenix presentation last week. Over many years in business yours was the most informative and well-presented presentation, on any subject, that I have ever attended! Your energy and enthusiasm combined with your concise and captivating support of your positions with easily understood examples and data was compelling.
Pete L.
I must say that I have never worked with a more driven, competent and focused individual as Don Ho.
Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
Thanks again Phil and feel free to have a future client call me if they would like a referral. You are a true professional!
Andy Graham, Vice President, Modern Heating & Plumbing
We knew it would be a difficult task to have someone really understand our business and our market, prior to researching a possible buyer, so it was imperative that we found someone of your caliber, with definite proven experience in this area.
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
I would like to thank you and your firm, Generational Equity, for being our valued advisors in our journey.
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I couldn’t have asked for a better team than Michael and Deborah. We couldn’t have done it without them.
Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
Dear Chris and Andre, I just wanted to say thanks for all your help. Even though this process was not an easy one, it was comforting to know that I had a capable team standing beside me. You made me feel like we were almost your only client or at least the most important one. Thanks again, and I will recommend your service in the future.
Shenille Engelhart, Owner – CLS Technology
I quickly recognized that Don was working for Sharpe Mixers above all else, and held our interests above others.
Jay Dinnison, Owner of Sharpe Mixers
The process was much more involved than I expected and your help, experience and advice was a big factor in making the negotiations go as smoothly as possible.
Terry D. Wickman, President, Keytroller
We thank you Eric and Generational Equity making our dream come true.
Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
The help you provided us during each step of this process made us feel very comfortable and confident we were selecting the right approach to transition our Company.
Andy Graham, Vice President, Modern Heating & Plumbing
T.D., thank you so much! You are a great leader! I love how you are using your gifts and talents to better others. You are clearly a GREAT COACH! This 3 day session undoubtedly changed the future of our business, and very well may have been the sole catalyst to save my company, my health and my marriage! A genuine “thank you” from the bottom of my heart.
Bryan D. Horn, Owner, Over Under Clothing
We are extremely pleased with the way Generational Equity handled the sale of our company. Your associates, Tom and Chris, did an outstanding job of getting us (me) through the process.
Michael J Polarek, President, Paragon Packaging
Tom Staszak is one of the most professional people I have dealt with in my last forty years of business. You’ve got a great group of people and you have built a truly professional organization.
Michael J Polarek, President, Paragon Packaging
Michael worked tirelessly, He followed every lead meticulously and urgently to make sure nothing was missed.
Robert Evans, President and CEO of Mealtracker Dietary Software
Bruce and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Generational Equity for assigning Musa Jagne to our transaction. In Bruce’s words, “Musa did one hell of a job for us!”
Karen S. Williams, CFO, BW Manufacturing
We were happy to see the interest in our company and what we cherished has not just a valuable company but an important company to the communities we served in.
Larry Moore, Owner, A Company Portable Restrooms
Your wisdom and experience were invaluable to me during this once-in-a-lifetime transaction.
Ralph Noblin, President of Noblin & Associates
Generational Equity’s assistance was invaluable in compiling and marketing our business.
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse
I am pleased that I was able to work with Andrew Byrd throughout this experience. From the first meeting we had in Minneapolis I felt that I was in good hands. His knowledge and expertise is second to none. He guided the process consistently throughout. I feel lucky that I was pared with Andrew and could not be happier that I chose Generational Equity to handle this major life event. Thank you Andrew and GenEq for everything!
Eric Erlandson, Owner, Action Fastenings, Inc.
We are very happy with the end result, and are very happy to be able to move forward with all of our future growth plans.
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
I need to say an immense thank you to Don Ho for his stellar work ethic, attention to detail, and tireless effort. Also thank you to the whole crew at GE! Without you, Don could not do such a phenomenal job. We were shooting for closing and funding before the end of 2020, due to the uncertainty of the political landscape and taxes. I am happy to report we closed last week and will be funding tomorrow.
Dr. Caty J. Catron PhD, RN, VA-BC – Owner, Vic The Picc, LLC
Thank you again for all your guidance and support. Any company will achieve what they intend, if they have you on their team!
Rick Nowak, President/CEO, Kurz Electric Solutions, Inc.
Generational Equity educated and informed us – so that we could be on the upside of a good decision (to sell).
Bil MacLeslie, CEO, ipHouse