Succession planning: Do you have a survival strategy?

Part 1)

In the July 14 edition of The National Post, a recent Conference Board of Canada report said an estimated 6 per cent of Canadian workers were eligible to retire this year alone, and the situation would worsen as the pool of replacement workers shrinks.

This is nothing new but and was identified years ago. But, guess what? The years have now gone by and as employees and management hand in their retirement notices businesses both large and small need a good plan.

This trend is especially visible in small communities like Stettler. We have seen some local businesses close when owners wanted to retire and were unable to find someone to take over their business. This leaves a hole in our community that we cannot afford. This is a rock in a pond as it also leaves their employees without jobs. Further, this often means customers must go out of town to find these services or products.

Did you know that according to Small Business Profile—Alberta, CFIB Research April 2006, 97 per cent of Alberta businesses are small establishments and 35 per cent of employed Albertans work in these businesses?

So what really is succession planning? It essentially means preparing your business for transition, whether planned or sudden, including the sale, closure, or transfer of your business. Succession planning is a living document that helps guide decisions around ownership, leadership, business structure, tax strategies, and contingency plans. It can help business owners prepare for retirement.

Why plan for business succession? There are five good reasons for this. It helps protect years of hard work, it keeps a vital service in your community, it builds value and provides financial security. It also helps avoid the inevitable chaos of change and helps plan for the future.

Short of closing the business many owners who have spent a lifetime developing a viable business don’t wish to close or sell, they want to pass on their business. Owners many groom their children to take over or look at valued employees as an heir apparent. How do you do this? “Leaving your Small Business: your plan for a successful transition” is a publication that provides the information you need and sets out the specific steps business owners need to take to in succession planning for their business.

We are Alberta Employment and Immigration. Reach us at 403-740-4320. Drop in to our office on Main Street in Stettler, or call for your free copy. This publication is also available on-line at alis.alberta.ca. Click on the e-products and services tab.

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