‘Plan Early, Start Earlier’ — Guiding Principle Five Of Family Business Succession

Dr Richard Shrapnel PhD
2 min readJun 5, 2024


Photography By Ben White On Unsplash.com

If there is a single piece of advice that those who have completed a succession process would pass on, it is ‘start early, start as early as you can’.

If you think about succession as being the ‘future proofing of your capital value’ or ‘the compounding of wealth across generations’, then succession should really be one of the items on your to-do list the day you form your business.

The reality is, however, that succession is often not considered until a couple of years, if even then, before a founder wants to step away from a business. Often this is too late.

Planning includes looking into the future and considering various scenarios of how effective succession may occur in your family/business.

Key barriers to effective succession can be:

  • The inability of the business to provide for the financial needs of the exiting generation
  • The inability of the business to provide for the financial needs of a larger new generation
  • A real struggle to find a way to achieve equity and fairness in the allocation of wealth
  • A lack of readiness in the new generation to step up
  • A lack of readiness in the exiting generation to release control.

In all of these instances starting earlier in the succession process by looking to how the future may unfold will provide the insights and understanding to allow these barriers to be addressed. In addition, establishing a growth culture of continual renewal by evolving, adding value and stepping out will protect against these barriers gaining a foothold

Succession is about the compounding of wealth across generations and therefore requires foresight and strategic planning at a much earlier stage than many businesses and leaders currently adopt. Plan early, start earlier is the advice.

Here is a short video clip that speaks into this theme: