It does not take long to discover that the journey to marketing success takes many jogs and sidesteps. Working within a fast-paced and ever changing economy equates to constantly juggling strategies to reach key target groups. When you discuss succession planning as a major factor in marketing, however, many business owners are convinced you have strayed too far off the beaten path.
Whether it is evident at first or not, your customers, partners, suppliers, wholesalers, retailers and even family members expect and desire business stability. If there are no plans in place to address what happens when an owner or partner is removed from the operation, for whatever reason, the question arises: Will the business survive?
Your partners and business associates may not ask you outright if you have succession planning as part of your overall business strategy, but they expect to work with businesses which are fully prepared to operate in spite of any sudden challenges or fundamental changes.
Too often you hear of direct marketing businesses that sadly cannot regroup after a family member is injured or lost. If planning is not in place, others may not know how to move forward or keep the operation running.
Some owners operate with the assumption that if they have designated another person to run the business, that person will be able to step in and proceed without encountering problems. That may be true if the person has been working side by side with the owner-manager over a long period of time and is knowledgeable about all phases of the venture. Most family and direct marketing businesses operate on a more intimate scale where a sibling, child or spouse is expected to pick up the reins. Even a two-person operation must have some planning in place to protect the business from faltering.
Farm businesses now incorporate succession planning to help families deal with retirement, loss of partners and other situations in which the primary operation will be affected by change. How marketing strategies will be affected is becoming an important part of these discussions. For instance, primary partners may have signed deals or have verbal commitments with wholesalers and retailers which may not match a sudden change in ownership or management. Even legal, estate and regulatory issues may affect how succession can take place within businesses and family operations. Also, succession planning is multi-faceted including operational issues and financial considerations and requires thoughtful and measured strategies.
It is never easy to imagine or discuss loss and change, yet it is essential for those involved in your business to know your operation can continue even in difficult circumstances. In this instance then, it is okay to stray off the beaten path and seek the best solutions for your operation.
Many risk management and business resources are now available to help you plan for the future and incorporate marketing strategies into succession planning. State departments of agriculture, agricultural credit operations and business advisors make risk management for direct marketers an important tool for longevity and successful agri-business operations. Talk to your business advisors today to secure and implement the best plans for your important and unique business.
The above information is for educational purposes and should not be substituted for professional business and legal counseling.