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Here are the main things to think about if you are considering stepping away from control of your business, according to succession expert Alistair Gibb

Alistair Gibb, succession adviser

1. It’s never too early to start thinking about an exit. Only people with a clear exit strategy can make appropriate decisions. If your exit hasn’t been factored into key decisions along the road, it can make executing the exit more difficult later. Don’t be one of those who wishes they’d recruited a general manager sooner or who ends up saying: “I never knew there was a zero rate capital gains tax possibility.”

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Overview of succession planning
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2. Understand your personal goals. You may have a mix of financial and ‘other’ objectives. For example, concerning the future of the business, you may have concerns about its importance to the local community or the future wellbeing of your employees. Your preferences are likely to influence your succession plan.

3. It will take longer than you think. It just will; it always does.

4. Talk to the people who matter most. Try to involve your fellow directors or shareholders in your vision. And talk to your family too.

5. Talk to people who can help you. Achieving a successful exit doesn’t happen by chance. Talk to people who have done it themselves and to the professionals who have helped others.

6. Choose your advisers with care and listen to what they say. Exiting a business is a complex task needing good accounting, legal, taxation and negotiating advice. Make sure the advisers you choose can deliver. Once you have picked your advisers, do listen to what they say. There’s no shame in letting them lead the process.

7. Communicate with your team. Make sure your team know what you are thinking as the process unfolds.

8. Understand the other side’s view. Try to predict how the other side will view each of your moves. The better you read them, the better the outcome.

9. Keep the heid. There will come a time when you want to do something irrational, go for a walk instead.

10. Have a Plan B. The future is unknowable. Have a reserve exit strategy up your sleeve.

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