Run your own promo business? Even if you’re not ready to tuck away your promo laptop bag for good, it’s prudent to at least think about a succession plan. 

You’ve worked hard to get where you are today, and when you’re ready to step away from your business, you should know what you want to happen next. For some businesses, this could mean passing the leadership baton to an internal candidate. For others, it could mean selling your company to another entity.

Steve McKee, the co-founder of McKee Wallwork, is in this position now – he’s ready to leave his company in new hands after nearly three decades since starting it. Even in the early days of his business, McKee says he thought about his eventual exit. Now that the time is here, he’s sharing a few ideas on how other business owners can find success in their leadership succession. We share his thoughts in this issue of PromoPro Daily.

  1. Consider potential successors. Is there someone who has been with your company since the beginning? Or maybe you brought on a leader who has exceeded your expectations. At his company, McKee says he was looking for someone with light behind their eyes, a fire in their belly and integrity in their heart. Once he pinpointed this person, he started a conversation that became a mutual commitment. Ten years after that discussion, this person is now president of the company and managing partner. McKee says he also hired two additional partners to work by his side as the next generation of leadership. They’re already taking the company to new heights, he says.
  2. Remember the three critical factors. When it comes to a successful succession, McKee says it’s important to keep in mind the most important factors: don’t be greedy, make sure both parties fully trust each other, and always look for character and capability rather than credentials and experience.
  3. Don’t put it off. If you ask McKee, succession planning should begin on day one of the business. You can’t begin soon enough. Many business owners focus on day-to-day activities and growing their company, but the more time they give themselves, the less pressure they’ll feel when it comes time to pass the baton. McKee says that he has found that the most significant contribution to his business isn’t just the value he provides today, but how well he has set up others to provide value for a new generation.

Whether or not you’re ready to shift gears with your promo company, consider McKee’s guidance above. It’s best to give yourself plenty of lead time so you can make the transition thoughtfully.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Steve McKee is the co-founder of McKee Wallwork, a marketing advisory firm. He’s the author of numerous books, including “TURNS: Where Business Is Won and Lost.”