Before the glorious days of retirement, with all the demands of developing, starting and maintaining a business in today’s fast-paced world, where does the time exist to even think about the last life cycle of your business? I don’t know about all of you, but I will wager that most of us haven’t even thought about the succession of our businesses. Upon a recent college visit with my son, the realization struck home on how quickly life passes by. I thought maybe I should take a closer examination of a vision for my business and life over the next 10 years.

My career began and continues with a passion for taking care of people and creating “smiles made from scratch” with long days in the kitchen. My son’s passion is spending time walking water’s edge looking for just the right spot to snag a dandy bass. At this point, there is no winning succession strategy for my business and no time scheduled for when the baton will be passed from mother to son.

The term succession planning has recently been discussed as it relates to our area school districts. Superintendent retirements in several area districts will be changing the leadership structure in the next three years. This change will present an exercise for school boards to shape strategic planning as a hiring format for superintendents leading the way in maximizing our area’s student achievement. To guide their mission statements effectively, area volunteer organizations must consider the role of succession planning as members cycle on and off the board of directors. Each board member brings forth his or her own set of unique skills. It is with the understanding of these skills, combined with succession planning, that assists in designing a board consistent with the overall mission statement of the organization. Even voters have a voice in the succession plan of a community at election time. Votes for candidates who have a priority of basic services or economic development become guideposts for how policies are set in a community’s future.

Most importantly, there has to be a plan which guides the business and elected or non-elected board or organization on to achieve the highest potential. A question to ask of ourselves is: What is our individual role in succession planning as it pertains to all of the above examples? As a business owner, you live your dream while maintaining your business, and develop succession plans that will allow you to live your dream when you are not working. Each of us is an important member of our community. It is vital you choose to get involved and lend your voice in shaping the look and feel of our community’s succession plan which will continue to build our area with vibrancy and prosperity.

Life is too short. Let’s begin our plans for tomorrow, today! tpw