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Monday, Nov 11th

Africa startup advice series: Succession Planning - not just for corporates

Africa startup advice series: Succession Planning - not just for corporates.

One of the most limiting behaviours of a small business owner is acting like a small business owner.

Small business mentality holds you back from growing, it's an excuse for a lack of professionalism, and prevents you from achieving sustainable success.

So let's think about some of the things that large companies focus on, and work out what can be implemented in your business, no matter how small or large.

One of the practices that few companies (other than large corporates) think about is succession planning. Succession planning is the management of your future talent in the company, grooming individuals to take on bigger, more important roles and thinking about the continuity of the company.

I can already hear the protests... small companies don't have the luxury of having team members waiting in the wings to take over positions in the event that a key employee leaves. And that's the challenge.

So we can either throw up our hands, shrug our shoulders and acknowledge that as a small business there is nothing we can do about it, or we can adopt the principles behind succession planning and implement them in our own businesses.

Succession planning provides a company with a plan for current and future roles in the business. So, the first step is to identify the key roles in the organisation. What roles are required to be performed for your business to function optimally? You also need to identify future roles that you must plan ahead for. If your business grows, or if you want to remove yourself from the day to day operations of the business, what additional positions would you need to fill in the business? By creating the structure for your future, you create a vacuum to fill.

The other advantage of succession planning is that you manage your talent internally. Do you really want to employ a bunch of people who never grow into larger, more important roles and just do the same job, with the same responsibilities for the next 20 years? By assessing the roles in the business, and your current team, you can identify employees who have potential. You can either wait until they leave your company to advance their careers elsewhere, or you can develop a career plan together that provides growth opportunities for both parties.

Once you have identified your star employees and the roles they could fill in the future, you need to manage the process for the employees to fill the skill gaps between the roles so they can take on more responsibility over time.

And finally, the reality is that employees may eventually leave, particularly in companies that don't have organisational structures for growth opportunities. What have you, as the business owner, done to ensure continuity? Every role in your company needs to be documented, including functions, responsibilities and process maps for the monthly, weekly and daily tasks. That way, if something happens to your employee, or if they resign, a new person can step into the role and function optimally in a short space of time.

Break out of the small business mould, get proactive and take control of your future.

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