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For family business owners, our Comprehensive Succession SolutionTM includes planning for:
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A Key Person and the Future of Your Operation
By Kevin Spafford, CFP®
Founder - Legacy by Design, LLC
Any person who performs a critical function and/or offers a unique skill may be a key employee. When used loosely, people think of a long-term or loyal employee, but that’s not necessarily the case. A well-seasoned employee may add value to the organization, yet not necessarily provide a ‘key’ element to its continuing success.
A key person is crucial to operational success. He or she possesses skills, abilities and/or intellect that may be very difficult, if not impossible to replicate. On the farm, a key person has specific knowledge, unique talents, or distinctive expertise. He or she may allow the business to create a certain value proposition, grow the operation, or manage the team more effectively. A key person is someone you can rely on no matter what.
In planning for succession, we include a discussion about key employees and their role in your operation. Like other assets of the operation, human capital is essential to success. The experience they offer takes time to gain. The loss of a key person may be detrimental to the business. It could jeopardize financial strength, management capabilities and alliance relationships.
As you plow through the succession planning process, your key employees want to know:
- Is my commitment to the operation appropriate?
- Are my contributions recognized and appreciated?
- What role will the new management successor fill?
Absent the commitment of loyal employees, a business may not survive succession. Whether left in the hands of a well-prepared next generation or sold to a willing third-party, unless there are capable employees to carry-on, the business simply will not make it beyond transition. The probability of survival may be slim if, when the owner departs, key employees leave instead of adapting to a new management structure. A business succession plan should include strategies to identify and retain key employees.
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