Succession planning can help to evolve your business!
It’s all too common for independent practice owners to be so focused on the day-to-day running of their business that they overlook the practicalities required for growth.
In the early years of starting an independent practice all the energies of the owner are rightly focused on getting the business up and running and making it successful. Thoughts of future succession or exits through sale are not high on the agenda. However the adage of exit planning starts the day you open your practice still holds strong.
The best place to start in terms of succession planning is to create an exit strategy based on ensuring your business can run successfully without you. Key questions to ask yourself include:
- Does your practice require external funding to help to achieve your vision? External funding can assist not only from a financial perspective, but a minor investor may bring in expertise as well. For example, angel investors are likely to have substantial business and operational experience which the practice can benefit from.
- Do you have the right people to drive the business forward? You may need to take on more staff and you may need to train your additional staff to handle the larger practice requirements. These issues can bring their own challenges but having the right people doing the right jobs is essential.
- Have you identified and prepared successors for their roles?
Many of the most successful independent practices in the UK are family businesses. Unsurprisingly, family businesses have their own specific issues, particularly around succession and the involvement of family members in the business.
As children come along and start to grow up the business owner may consider involving one or more of them in the business and family succession may become a realistic possibility. However there is no inevitability that capable, motivated successors to the business will be found in the next generation.
It is important for all independent practice owners to consider the introduction of external expertise at all levels of their business and to consider how to attract, retain and motivate their staff.
To keep innovating and make a success of transition, independent practice owners must:
- Make transition more collaborative and open so that the next generation feel they can make a difference and test their ideas. Listen to their passions and identify ways the can express them in the context of the business. See how the business can adapt to encourage their participation. For example, ask them to help you solve a technology related problem or run a social media campaign.
- Create a framework to introduce potential next generation leaders to the business and manage the complex legal and emotional issues involved in transition.
- Be open to external expertise and consider belonging to a business club or network to learn from other’s experience. This can be hugely beneficial and is the staple of what independent optician business support organisations like SightCare do well.