Data & Succession Planning

Many family businesses are akin to a pilot trying to land an airplane with the radar switched off and their eyes closed. Then they are amazed if the business they are supposedly leading, risks crashing out.

Sometimes I just tire myself repeating the same thing. You cannot be leading a family business if you do not have access to the latest data on your business. I still meet family business who have no systems in place to have monthly management accounts and other key KPIs in hand in a timely fashion. Let alone other important elements like budgeting and scenario planning. If we are in May 2023 and you are still trying to get your 2022 accounts finalised, it is obvious that you are like the airplane pilot with your eyes closed off and your radar switched off.

It is on top of this mess that many family business owners contact me to speak about succession planning. They many times get shocked when I advise them that they first need to get their house in order before thinking about succession.

What do I mean by getting your house in order?

Before thinking about succession planning do you as a family business owner and leader have solid answers to the below:-

  • Where are we now. Is our current organisational structure good enough? Do we have a satisfactory financial performance? Is our current business strategy a good one or does it need to be updated?

  • Where do we want to go? What do we envisage our future organisational structure to be like? What will be our future business strategy & projected financial performance?

  • What makes us or will make us stand out? What is our competitive advantage and will it likely remain there in the future?

  • How are decisions being taken in the family business and how will they be taken in the future? Do we have the right governing structures? Do we have the policies we need? Do we have the data we need to build a data driven culture?

It is only if the family business has its house in order and can provide solid replies to the above can we then work on succession planning. Otherwise you would be likely trying to pass on a person-centric mess from one generation to the other, which is hugely unfair. I hope the message is clear enough. The first step to succession planning is getting your family business in shape. Only then can we truly plan the “how and if ” future family business leaders could join the family business.

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