Smart Answers

Q: I'm an 83-year-old engineer and need advice on hiring a successor so my 50-year-old company can continue after I retire. --H.D., Long Island City, N.Y.

A: If you are just now looking for a successor at age 83, one has to wonder whether you are so tied to your company that subconsciously you feel no one can take your place. But if you really are ready to hand over the reins, start by defining your business and the skills needed to run it. In many cases, a company's founder has never written down exactly what he does, or defined the roles he plays in the company. You might consider hiring a business consultant to bring an outside perspective.

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