Just because two business partners get along well doesn’t mean the next generation will do so too. When succession planning is done in advance, restrictions — or at the very least, mechanisms to dictate how decisions will be made and what procedures are to be used in case of disagreement – can be used to avoid messy, protracted battles.
Are you a Baby Boomer, or the child of one? If yes, then perhaps you recall the Archie Comics. Unfortunately, that halcyon world of yesteryear has given way to litigation and lawyers. Archie’s Comics has been in a state of war since the passing of the founders and the dysfunctional antics of their successors. There is at least one more lesson to learn from Archie and the gang: proper succession planning.
The story of the succession and rapid rise in hostilities can be followed in an article in onwallstreet.com titled Archie Comics Power Struggle Provides Valuable Succession Planning Lessons.
In the end, the Archie Comics tale is too commonly repeated. According to the article, one of the successors actually is accused of slashing the other’s tires; the accuser apparently is under a restraining order keeping them from the company – a restraining order which they have allegedly violated. In short, ugly stuff.
Too often ugly feuds can break out, even in once idyllic companies. The Archie Comic Publications has been around since 1941, after all, and it was only in 2007/2008 that the newest generation came on board.
When thinking about your company, it is vital to consider the future beyond your ownership. Who will be the successors? Will they be compatible partners to carry the business forward?
These and other fundamental issues are better resolved now, rather than later.
Reference: onwallstreet (April 18, 2012) “Archie Comics Power Struggle Provides Valuable Succession Planning Lessons”