Just the other morning I worked with a local farmer in his almond huller. The operation was more factory than farming, so it allowed us to visit regarding his thoughts related to succession. I broached the subject of who may be affected if he were suddenly taken out of the picture. You can imagine the response. We talked of family, unpaid bills, and mortgage terms. We discussed college educations and retirement dreams. We chatted about his spouse’s security and his newborn granddaughter – their first.
So, who benefits from a carefully written and implemented succession plan? The obvious answer is your family, your spouse, children, and those who depend on you for their care and financial support. How about loyal employees and their families? Your customers, suppliers, third party vendors, complementary service providers, manufacturers, and the community with whom you share mutual support.
Upon closer examination, the web of direct and indirect dependents as a result of a long-term successful agribusiness operation dictates that today’s agripreneur has an awesome responsibility. If each farming operation is the center of an extended web of influence and responsibility, today’s owner carries a weight of accountability for long-term continued success.
The benefits of a comprehensive succession plan are many fold. The components begin with a sustainable business model which brings your vision to life; specifies your goals and action agreements; and helps to maximize income, equity appreciation, and personal satisfaction.
A leadership development system establishes a training curriculum, matches skill improvement to the needs of the business, and develops a ‘bench’ of successor candidates.
Good capital management serves to cover the inherent threats to every family owned business, assuring adequate capital to weather economic cycles and the skill to manage uneven cash flows.
A retirement option design encourages preparedness combined with a real sense of urgency. It ensures a healthy standard of living over a 20 to 30 year retirement, and it allows an owner to step away without jeopardizing business stability.
A well designed estate plan will minimize the estate tax and transfer obligations in case of unfortunate circumstances such as premature death or an unforeseen disability. An estate plan provides for spousal support and addresses other contingencies.
There’s no time like the present. Take a few moments to decide what you want. Consider the impact of your operation on the extended community, on your family and on the lives you touch.
Success is always based on the decisions you make and actions you take.