Putting Success into Succession Planning

Putting “Success" into Succession Planning

By John Kennedy

Business Owner - choose one:
___ Change by Crisis ___ Change by Drift ___ Change by Design

There are three types of change that we come up against in our lives: "change by crisis", "change by drift" and "change by design".  In the approach to succession planning, our industry has witnessed many unfortunate and tragic stories of “Change by Crisis”.   I have known four green industry owners that have suddenly passed away (I’m sure we all know a tragic handful or more as well), and we all continue to pray for their families.In the case of sudden death, the company is forced to “react” to the need for immediate transition and often times finds itself ill-prepared for the task.  Who is going to run the business? What is the financial health of the business?  Will it remain in the family (are the kids interested in taking over)?  Which employees might step up or step in? And finally, can we survive such a loss of this great magnitude?

It is an earthquake waiting to happen in most businesses in America! The size of that earthquake is far more up to you and your “proactive" approach to succession planning. Whether it’s a 7.0  or a 4.0 earthquake is up to you and the decisions you are willing to make over the next five years.

In America, more than 50% of small business owners are 50 years of age or older, which means that many of the 28 million small business owners are coming to a fork in the road to make a decision about their financial future and the future of their business.

A recent study shows that 78% of small business owners intend to use the sale of their business as a method to fund their retirement, yet only 30% have a written succession plan.  And “Change by Crisis” is not a business plan!!

“Change by Design” certainly is, and over the next months leading up to The Fall Event, I will be tackling this issue. Why is it important?  When do you begin the process? How does it work? What do I need to do today?

Let’s start with that last question.  “What do you need to do today?”

My strong suggestion to you is to begin with the very first direct question to ask yourself in the mirror—if not me, then who?  

Should I consider turning it over to a family member?  Should I consider looking at a long term and valued employee?  Is there an interest in the value of the land and property that investors may be find worth purchasing?

These are all very important questions to ask yourself to begin the process of putting “Success into Succession Planning”, and today we begin with the people side of the equation—if not me, then who?

Have an amazing, profitable and fun spring ahead!   

And remember: "You Grow What You Feed!”   What are you feeding your team this week to grow them?  



John Kennedy Consulting
11703 Fairfax Woods Way, #12101
Fairfax, VA 22030
Tel: 443.605.7095
[email protected]

Reminder: John Kennedy On Demand, a subscription-based video training series on teamwork and leadership is offered to Garden Center Group Clients at 50% off!  An easy way to feed your team motivation, communication, accountability, innovation, leadership, vision, values, and volition 24/7/365.   Enter code GCG50 for your discount today.  SUBSCRIBE NOW


John's Disclaimer:  I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. It is always valuable and insightful advice to lean on the financial and legal minds within the Garden Center Group while going through this process of succession planning.

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Comments on "Putting Success into Succession Planning"

Comments 0-5 of 1

Ken Lain - Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Insightful article and very appropriate for today's garden centers. John, we all need to plan our future, including those who still enjoy going to work every day. Keep up the insightful thoughts.

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