Businesses often have a discernible lifecycle. There is a birth process, the tentative steps of a toddler, the sometimes stumbling overconfidence of adolescence, the steady competence of middle age. However, what happens next? Some companies survive for many, many years, while others suffer some calamity and may close in a short time.
As counter intuitive as it may sound, having a succession or dissolution plan may improve your businesses chances of long-term survival. Careful planning of all aspects of your business can help it handle contingencies, no matter what they are.
If you are the principal owner and control the business, what would happen if you were suddenly to die? Do you have a process in place that would allow an orderly transition or sale, or would your employees walk in one morning and have no idea what to do?
Continuity planning is broad topic, involving issues as varied as the process by which key managers or other employees are replaced, to emergency preparedness that would permit your business continue to operate if your physical location were destroyed by a natural disaster or fire.
These plans, like estate planning and will drafting, need to be well thought out and completed in advance, which also allows them to be updated and revised as your business and personnel change and evolve.
Like estate planning, an organized plan to wind up a business should a principle die or a process to transition it to different ownership can be immensely helpful for your family, relieving them of the burden and stress during what will be a difficult enough time.
Continuity planning, in addition to preserving some part of your legacy, can also be seen as something you can do for your loyal employees; helping to ensure your business can continue or be successfully sold and not fail because of disorganization and loss of leadership.