Business owners often tell us that every time they think about transitioning out of their companies, they get stuck. To evaluate the severity of their “transition paralysis,” we ask: Does your business transition keep you up at night? The typical answer is something like “It’s hard to sleep when I don’t know which step to take first. There are so many moving parts, so many people involved, and so much at stake.” And our typical answer is, “You’re right.” It’s not easy to leave your company in the hands of successors prepared to lead while you launch yourself into a post-business life that is as—or more—fulfilling than your career. But it can be done. Every day we work to help owners navigate their transitions and sleep at night.
Fear of the Unknown
Most of the owners we work with are rookies in the big leagues in the sense that they’ve never transitioned a company to a successor, and they’ve got one chance to get it right. That’s a lot of pressure. No wonder they can’t sleep!
Humans are wired to fear the unknown. The most primal part of our brain processes fears and threats and triggers our body’s fear and stress responses. We’re also equipped to manage our emotions by using the problem-solving, decision-making, and long-term planning parts of our brains. That’s good news for sleepy business owners.
Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. They know how to assess risk and marshal resources. When contemplating a business transition, owners correctly anticipate that their actions will affect their most important relationships. They want to transition in a way that keeps these relationships intact.
In the process of creating a succession plan, you will make scores of decisions. The six primary ones are:
- Why do you want to transition your company to a successor?
- What do you have or want to transition?
- Who do you want to succeed you in leadership?
- When do you want to begin and complete the transition?
- How much do you want from the transition of your ownership?
- How will you structure the transition?
Owners also understand the value of a plan (and of a Plan B!) and create and execute plans every day. They are experts at creating processes to grow sales, build their customer bases and increase efficiencies, for example. While you may not be a succession planning expert, you suspect that there’s a way to create a transition plan that will achieve your most important goals. And you’re right (again).
Does Your Business Keep You Up At Night? Check Out These Tips.
Transitioning a business is a high-risk endeavor, but there are several actions you can take to minimize the stress of transition and extract yourself from “transition paralysis.”
- Create a plan then put in the work to make your plan a reality.
- Use available transition resources, such as books, online courses, mentors, and professional advisors. Knowledge is a powerful sleep aid!
- Ask for help. Other entrepreneurs and former owners are usually more than happy to share their experiences and advice.
- Stay positive and focused on your goal when things get tough because it’s worth it! It took time, effort, and a few stumbles to build your successful business. Your business positively affected your family, employees, their families, and your community. The same can be true of your transition.
You can’t possibly anticipate every twist and turn on the road to the next exciting phase of your life, but when you operate according to a set of proven principles and use a Transition Roadmap™, you greatly improve your odds of a successful transition and a good night’s rest.