One of the most moving moments of the Opening Ceremony of London 2012, was when seven young promising athletes were selected by seven Olympic champions, Sir Steve Redgrave, Shirley Robertson, Duncan Goodhew, Daley Thompson, Dame Mary Peters, Lynn Davies and Dame Kelly Holmes, to each light a flame that would ignite the cauldron. 

There had been much speculation as to who the single torch bearer would be, but what better way of demonstrating legacy than this? 

In this article, we look at some key tips to ensure smooth succession planning in your own business. 

Plan early 

You will have invested a great deal of time and effort into your business, so what happens after you have moved on or retired will be of great concern to you. You will want to leave it in good hands. 

It is important, therefore, to start planning for the future well ahead, so that when you retire or something unexpected happens, everything will be in place for a smooth transition. 

It may be that you want the business to continue with a family member in the next generation, with non-related business partners or with new leaders completely, but whatever you have in mind, you need to start making plans. 

Some successful family businesses can be on their fourth generation of family members, but those children will have been brought into the business ten years or more before the transfer. 

Identify key roles and people 

The first step is to think about the critical roles in your business. Next, start to identify the right people in the business, who could take over those roles and begin developing them accordingly. Think about what knowledge and skills need to be retained or transferred. 

Family tensions can often surface during succession planning, but they need to be addressed. Frank conversations may need to take place, but remember it is for the future good of the business. 

Consider the financial implications

The role of good succession planning is to make sure the business continues profitably. It avoids having to suddenly resort to a fire sale. In addition, it minimises legal and tax complexities and avoids delays. 

As a business owner, the business can be a large part of your net worth. So, if you are relying on the sale of your business either externally or internally, it is important to have a robust succession plan in place to make sure you raise what is needed for your retirement. 

Seek outside help 

Bear in mind, that an outsider can offer an objective view on who may be the right person to take over, removing any emotion from the situation. 

The earlier you seek professional advice with your succession planning, the smoother the transition of power will be. You will be able to hand over your business with confidence and have peace of mind, knowing that it will be left in the right hands.