Leave a Legacy
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.
What's Stopping You?
Nov 13, 2009
In the not so distant past, a person had valid, if unstated, reasons for not designing and implementing a comprehensive succession strategy.
1. There was an overwhelming air of confusion between estate planning and succession planning. Though often used synonymously, an estate plan is designed to minimize the estate tax, and it’s done as an individual activity. Succession planning is designed to maintain the integrity of the operation, define a transition from one generation to the next, and allow farm to continue to endow the family for years to come (create a lasting legacy). Also - succession planning is family activity.
2. Until now the only help available to agribusiness owners was local. So, if your accountant or the local attorney were not qualified to help with succession planning, it usually didn’t get done. Today, there are firms and professionals who specialize in the succession planning process and, with the advent of the internet, help is available - literally at your finger tips.
3. There were no tools specifically for succession planning and, if a professional engaged in the process (see #2), the techniques employed may have been a bit primitive. Today there are firms and professionals who specialize in succession planning; some may even focus solely on the unique needs of a specific industry, as Legacy by Design does with agriculture.
4. Even today most family operations are more focused on lifestyle than profit/return on investment. Enjoying our farming culture is what drives many of us who serve the agricultural community. Yet, with the rigors of day-to-day operation, success tomorrow will be based on good management, strong leadership, clear objectives, a growth/profit motive and a clear vision for the future.
5. Tomorrow’s leaders need better training. Yesterday, good parenting and a strong back would suffice, but the pressures of running a successful operation---shrinking margins, environmental pressures, new legislation and limited resources---demand a more capable/competent leader with the management skills necessary to grow into the future.
Today’s resources inform and guide the family through the succession planning process. What was once a rather limited sideline has become a refined professional specialization. Help is accessible, and the planning process need not be frustrating and fruitless.
A good place to start is to keep an eye out for information offered through the Farm Journal Legacy Project. This long-term initiative is dedicated to providing good information, valuable tools and successful experiences.
Chances are, the questions that keep you awake at night are shared by many other families. Let us know what’s on your mind; we’ll do our darnedest to see that your concerns are addressed in upcoming issues and episodes.
Resources through the Legacy Project:
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