Last week I attended a wonderful event hosted by an inspiring local company that has experienced steady growth and success during their twenty plus years in business. The program included short presentations by a number of key staff, starting with the Owner and President. A few things that stood out upon arrival, during the presentations, and throughout the evening, was the infectious enthusiasm of the team in serving their customers, the unusual long employment tenure of staff members (15-20 years seemed to be the norm), and how they seemed to love their jobs, leaders, and company. I don't think it's a stretch to say that both employees and customers, as well as other stakeholders, would be quite saddened if that company didn't last into the future with the same level of values-based leadership and vision it now enjoys.
A stakeholder in a business is any group or individual that is impacted by the activities of that business. The internal stakeholders would include owners, management, and staff, while external stakeholders would include customers, suppliers, strategic partners, lenders, the community and local economy. One of the fulfilling, but sobering, aspects of owning a business that has realized prosperity and prominence in the market and community, is the many stakeholders invested in, interested in, and dependent upon, the continued future success of that business.
It's no secret that the vision, values, diligence, skill, and responsible behavior of the owner, or owners, typically have the greatest impact on growth and the sustained success of an enterprise. As you've grown a successful business, you've also grown the number of interested and invested stakeholders, and there is much at stake for them, and you, when you eventually exit.
With your legacy in mind, will you design and execute an exit plan with the same level of values-based leadership, diligence, and vision? Will your legacy be "He/She left the business as responsibly and successfully as they built it"? Get started planning now, it will take longer than you think.