No More Surprises


By Phil Harwood

My most recent blog discussed the importance of clarifying expectations, especially with new hires. Companies have a significant opportunity to improve in the areas of employee, recruitment and retention if they heed my advice. If you have not yet, read this blog, please. Do so by clicking on this link.

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The topic of today’s blog is similar to my most recent blog: unmet expectations. However, the context is different. The focus of this blog is regarding clarifying expectations around business succession. My last blog established that new hires don’t like surprises and get upset when their expectations are unmet, leading to voluntary termination. However, in the business succession context, surprises may be devastating. The last thing anyone wants is an unexpected surprise when it comes to the transition of a business from one generation to the next, or regarding the sale of a partner’s interest, or the sale to a third-party.

What is a surprise in this context? There are many examples. One example is when a partner in a business passes away, and the partnership agreement does not say what everyone thought it said regarding how things will be handled. The deceased partner’s estate and the remaining partner(s) are in disagreement. There’s conflict. Emotions are high. 

What could have been a smooth transition is now a source of anguish. Worse yet, this anguish is coming at the worst possible time when people are grieving. All of this could’ve been avoided with proper planning and implementation of relatively simple solutions. But, of course, this is the last thing anyone wants to deal with. 

The good news is that, if you’re reading this blog, you can do something about your situation today. You can make a commitment to yourself, your business partners, and your family that you’re going to put in place a plan to handle your affairs in the event that something should happen to you. You are giving them a gift of responsible legacy planning. 

Now, for a caution. There are many components to this plan, such as partnership agreements, financial investment plans, insurance coverages, etc. Please don’t worry about any of these things at this stage in the process. If you do, you may quickly become overwhelmed and give up. So don’t do that. 

For today, just make a commitment that you will get started down this road. A good next step is to work with an advisor you know and trust who can guide you through this process. Like most people, you are too busy to deal with another huge project. So don’t take this on by yourself. Find a qualified advisor and take one bite at a time. 

The alternative, frankly, is to leave a mess behind for others to clean up. And like other surprises, conflict ensues, and relationships often are severed. Lack of business succession planning has led to the destruction of more than a few families. You can avoid this by making 2023 the year to get moving on your plan to proactively eliminate the surprises. 

Now go forth. 

Tags: Expectations , Business Success , Business Surprises ,