Who will fill your empty desk when you're no longer around? While the prospect of your retirement or death may be hard to swallow, succession planning can help avoid needless business disruptions, family feuds, or employee rivalry. Whether your company is family-run or not, training and identifying the next leader can help make the transition as smooth as possible. Don't forget tax and estate planning issues.
CASE IN POINT: When Larry Sarno decided to retire from Sarno & Son, a tuxedo wholesaler in Scranton, Pa., and pass the business to his two children, it took a year to work out the financial and legal issues, such as valuing the business and forming a partnership agreement. Daughter Nancy Sarno De Los Rios and her brother and partner Mark Sarno have already set up their own buy/sell agreement in case one of them dies.
WEB: Check out the Small Business Administration's Emerging Business Series at www.sba.gov for info on succession planning. Even if your company isn't family-run, www.fambiz.com has useful articles. Good links and search engine, too.
BOOK: Leadership Continuity and Building Talent from Within by William J. Rothwell (AMACOM, 1994, $59.95), a hands-on guide to help make the management transition a smooth one.
COURSE: Succession Planning that Works, a two-day program from the American Management Assn. Price: $1,745.
FREE ADVICE: Pose your succession questions to experts on the Famlybiz e-mail list, run by University of San Diego professor Scott W. Kunkel. To subscribe, go to www.acusd.edu/~kunkel/famlybiz/.