Whether you own a family business or run your company solo, chances are you want your legacy to continue well after you have retired. Figuring out who will take your business to the next generation and beyond is important to your company’s longevity.

According to succession and transition gurus David Franzetta and Moss Jackson, succession planning is all about leadership continuity. As the current leader, you may think you have plenty of time to chart a succession course but the truth is this type of planning should begin sooner rather than later.

Here are a few tips from David and Moss on how to begin mapping out a succession and transition course and what to keep in mind.

  • Identify your future leaders.  Determine the key positions in your company. Think about what unique skills they require and determine or find the right people for the job. A good fit requires that you and that person have a shared vision for the position and the company.
  • Discuss your plans with your family. Your successor may be a family member or business partner and in that case you need to discuss the role with them and ensure that it fits what they want out of life. Begin these conversations early and in informal settings. A good conversation starter would be to ask what the person’s dreams are and what they wish for in life. Reciprocate by sharing your dreams and goals.
  • Develop a leadership pipeline. If you run the business solely, build a solid bench. Develop your strong players and hire with the future in mind. 
  • Plan your transition.  Give your team time to work in different capacities and grow into their future roles. More successful transitions occur when successors have a chance to truly learn the business inside and out. In addition, think about what your role will be once you transition the business over to your successor(s). Will you be relaxing on an island somewhere or serving as an adviser and visiting the office a few times a month?
  • Put it in writing.  So that everyone is aware of your goals and wishes, write down your vision and plan and tell your successor(s) where to find it in the event they need to refer to it.

As you prepare and implement your transition plan, remember to keep emotion out of it and to focus on making the right decisions.  Think through each of your actions and seek advice when needed.  In fact, consider forming a succession planning support team to help you with tougher decisions.  As the leader of a successful business, you’re not on your own so tap into your greatest resource – your people.