Creating and Completing a Business Succession Plan is a Marathon, not a Sprint

By: Amy Wirtz

If you follow my Facebook page you know, I accomplished a BIG personal goal this spring. I completed the 21-mile race in Big Sur California on April 24, 2016, in five hours and twenty-five minutes. Big Sur was my first 21-mile race. While I like to think of myself as having a pretty healthy lifestyle, I am by no means a marathoner. As I was doing this wonderfully challenging race, I began comparing my training and completion of this race with the struggles, fear, pain, exertion, and joy my clients go through during the creation, implementation, and completion of their business transition plan.

Doing this race was not my idea and not even in my vision of my future. I love to walk and do it as a stress relief as often as I have time. Last year a good friend, Mary Catherine Barrett, asked me to do the 21-mile race at the Big Sur Marathon with her which was her third race. While I admired her dedication and accomplishment, I never envisioned doing this race.

Like most business owners facing the creation, implementation, and completion of a business succession plan, I initially thought of all the reasons I could not do this. Sound familiar? They included lack of ability, lack of experience, lack of time, the expense, internal conflict, and bad timing.

Do any of these resistance questions remind you of your initial thoughts on embarking on creating a succession plan, organizing a team, or working with Certified Exit Planning Advisor (C.E.P.A.)? Many owners ask “How will I fit this in?”; “Isn’t this a lot of money?”’; “How do you even begin?”; “I do not have enough hours in a day now.” Every owner who completes the transition process begins with a plan and a coach. I had Mary Catherine. She had experience doing the race and mapped out a nine-month training plan. She also got me to “jump” into the experience. She had mentioned this idea to me several times, but in September 2015 she called me on a Saturday and said let’s walk a half marathon for the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame tomorrow. I said sure, and we completed it. Big Sur was my jump of faith. I had to try the idea and see how far I could go. We finished the race and let me tell you it was not pretty. What I learned was that I had the foundation to do a better job with her help. Mary Catherine offered me a way to concretely visualize myself going to Big Sur and completing the race.

The C.E.P.A. can do the same for you and your business. The Exit Planning Institute holds one-day owner forums all over the country. Attending an owner forum is a significant “jump into” event. It is designed to let you try on the idea of doing this project with a coach. You, your business and your family will be able to complete this project with the right “coach.” This coach should be a trained Certified Exit Planning Advisor. We are trained to help you take a large project and break it down into a flexible plan. Your C.E.P.A. will work with you to do the hard tasks, help define your goals and help you make a plan to get the project completed. You can find these workshop dates, times and locations at and click on events. And if a forum isn’t available in your area, call me (440) 695-0941 and let’s jump into a great plan together.