Pandemic shifting business owners’ succession priorities

Owning a business has proven especially challenging in the last year and a half. And these challenges have prompted many owners to make business succession a top priority, with many deciding to retire early or sell their business.

If you are pivoting or rethinking your future in light of the pandemic, there are some important things to consider.

Identifying your options

In light of the pandemic, you may find yourself thinking more often about:

  • Selling a business
  • Relocating the business
  • Changing leadership
  • Your retirement timeline

As you change your thinking in these areas, the future of your business can start looking different from what you planned for a few years ago.

For example, potential buyers may no longer be interested in or capable of buying. And layoffs or office closures could make it more tempting to shut down the business or hand it off to your successor and retire.

Discussing your plans with your successor

Just as you may be changing your thoughts on the future, the people poised to take over the business may also be rethinking things.

For instance, family members who were previously not in a position to run the business may now be. In fact, according to a recent survey of 150 business owners, nearly 21 percent of family members who were initially uninterested in working in the family business are now expecting to do so.

Because people’s plans and priorities have changed, it can be wise to talk to your partners, potential successors and family members to ensure the people who are taking over as still interested in doing so. And if parties are showing new interest in the opportunity, you may want to shift your planning.

Putting your wishes in writing

Before the pandemic, you may have created an estate plan that includes plans for your business. However, updating these documents will be crucial if there have since been changes regarding your wishes, circumstances or identified successors.

If you do not have a plan already, now is an excellent time to create one. If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that you cannot predict the future. However, you can create a plan to protect that which you value most.