When it comes to succession planning, the old saying “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail” rings especially true.
For jewelry store owners, nothing is as gratifying as passing a thriving business along to the next generation or new owners. But a fruitful relationship and seamless transition depend on laying the groundwork months, if not years, ahead of time through careful planning and management.
Particularly for family businesses, where your relationships are not only professional but also personal, you need to have frank discussions about your expectations for the future and the nature of your evolving role. Make sure that your children, grandchildren, or other relatives you have in mind to inherit the business have both the business acumen and the desire to follow in your footsteps.
If the changeover is not an inheritance but a transaction, clear expectations and boundaries need to be set about how and for how long you will remain to advise the new owners and bring them up to speed. Determine if continuing to aid them on a consultative basis is a possibility. In either case, outlining an exit strategy is a critical step.
Money issues, including but not limited to any outstanding debt and long-term lease commitments, need to be addressed. Retirement planning needs to be a key plank in the foundation of succession planning as well; owners whose assets are entirely tied up in their retail establishments lack the flexibility to shop around and find the best buyer or take their time meeting key business benchmarks to make themselves more attractive to a buyer. Similarly, consider capital improvements and business investments from a long-term perspective.
If possible—and with expert help, if necessary—you want to tie up all those loose ends well before you hand over the reins. This might mean thinking about succession planning years before you plan to retire, but taking the long view ultimately will benefit you. After all, while you might not be around forever, there’s an undeniable satisfaction in knowing that your store could be.
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