Kevin Spafford of Legacy by Design recently tweeted, “If you’re dependent on your farm’s operation, it’s your responsibility to initiate the succession planning process” and “Not making a succession planning decision is in fact a decision.”
Keeping small businesses and farms vital in rural communities keeps that community strong. If a small business – a grocery or a hardware store, for example – locks its doors because a family has felt too awkward to talk to one another about death, management or business transition, this closure can have an impact on the entire community.
On his website, Kevin offers the “Family Meeting” and “Conversation Starters” tools to guide you through the process of how to talk to one another and the questions that need to be asked. “Right now, before we go full-swing into harvest,” he says, “may be the perfect time to set the date, consider the agenda and ask for input from other family members.”
Some of those questions that need to be discovered through active family communication include:
Are you interested in participating in the family operation? Are you prepared to assume a role/responsibility? Should family members not active in the operation attain/retain an ownership interest in the operation? If you want to be included in the operation, are you willing to personally invest in an ownership interest?
In Kevin’s weekly business transition blog post he suggested: “Use your concerns about the estate tax as a motivator to initiate the succession planning process.
“Be mindful that the purpose of succession planning is to transfer ownership of the family operation to the next generation, during the owner’s lifetime, as a going concern. Planning should be a high priority to owners and active family members. Though the process can be a bit intimidating, I suggest you take a few moments right now to schedule your next family meeting.
Kevin also offers the opportunity for you to Download the Legacy Project 2010 Workbook… , which has “tools and resources to help your family get started on the road to comprehensive succession planning.”