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Leave a Legacy

RSS By: Kevin Spafford, Legacy Project

Kevin Spafford is Farm Journal’s succession planning expert for the Farm Journal Legacy Project.  He hosts the nationally-televised ‘Leave a Legacy’ TV, facilitates an ongoing series of workshops for farm families across the U.S., and is the author of Legacy by Design: Succession Planning for Agribusiness Owners.

The Help We Really Need

Oct 27, 2009
Yesterday, I returned from an overnight business meeting in Dallas. I spent as much time in transit as I spent on the ground. During the round trip flights the plane took-off and landed six times. As I sat in the front row for each stop, the efficiency of the airline professionals as they went about ‘moving people’ from one destination to the next caught my attention. Every step in the process was well-choreographed, rehearsed, effective and based on a desired result.
The comprehensive succession planning process is equally well defined, albeit less recognized. Though you may fly many, many times in life, most families will have an initial succession planning engagement only once.
When facilitated correctly, the process will flow from a consultation to discovery. From there a preliminary plan will be written, and shared with the active family members. Upon acceptance a final will be drafted, and you’ll be guided through the implementation process. A comprehensive plan will include ownership transition, leadership development, estate planning and financial security.
Following a well-choreographed comprehensive process allows the unique qualities of each family to become the focus. Yet many owners hesitate to seek guidance, possibly to avoid the perceived embarrassment of their own naiveté, or the risk that anything they say might seem like some kind of a commitment.  Some owners go so far as to believe that seeking succession planning guidance may signal financial trouble or an imminent ownership change. They imagine that – if word ever gets out – family, neighbors, and employees will assume the worst and turn away.
Actually, quite the opposite is true. A confident owner knows that succession is a natural progression in the life of a growing operation. A truly successful farm, ranch, or agribusiness must be designed to transcend the day-to-day involvement of the owner/founder. 
Succession planning is designed to enhance the value of, and the personal satisfaction from growing a successful enterprise. It solidifies business value, creates a bench of capable leaders, and provides financial security for the family. 
What have you done about succession planning? We urge you to follow the Farm Journal Legacy Project. Learn from the Esthers and the Dells, our succession planning case study families. Check out “Leave a Legacy”; the Farm Journal column will help you sort through questions and perplexing situations that agribusiness owners are facing. Watch this blog, and please join the Farm Journal Legacy Project on Facebook. Our goal is to provide you with good information, viable tools and real solutions to your most perplexing succession planning problems.

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