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Podcast: Choosing and Preparing Your Successor

Podcast: Choosing and Preparing Your Successor

This week’s guest featured Heather Parbst, Director of Owner Transition Services with CliftonLarsonAllen. Heather has worked with family businesses in transition for several years and prior to that work was an entrepreneur with her own set of ownership issues. She’s also educated in counseling and psychology, becoming an adviser and consultant that people can turn to for holistic help during the process of ownership transition. 

Heather says that owners should take a “windshield vs rear view mirror approach” to choosing and grooming a successor. Looking forward at where the company is going (or where you want it to go) can tell a great deal about the kind of leadership required to get there. Sometimes it’s hard to assess what kind of traits and skills the next leader will need. As an owner, your role has likely changed a lot over the years, and you grew along with it!  Asking yourself questions like “how has my job changed since I first started the company?” can be helpful ways to recall how your position and responsibilities evolved over time, which will help get into the mindset of choosing and grooming the next generation of leadership.

One thing Heather talked about that seems to be a common issue with owners on the transition path is refusing to leave when it’s time. So much of our identity as owners is tied up in the business; many owners ask “who am I without my business?” and are met with a blank canvas in their minds about what that could look like. 

When an owner and a successor are preparing for the transition, it’s important to first identify the needs of the organization (currently and in the future based on growth strategy). Build the transition plan around those goals and needs, and then groom a successor whose skills and traits are a good match for the challenge. Too many times we tend to mold a position for the person, when it should be the other way around. 

For more of Heather’s wisdom and insight listen to the episode!

For more tips, stories and advice listen to episode here

Poised for Exit Podcast Sponsors:
Sunbelt Business Advisors


Sunbelt Business Advisors is a proud sponsor of the Poised for Exit Podcast. The Poised for Exit podcast seeks to help entrepreneurs improve, grow – and successfully exit – their businesses.

Julie Keyes, a life-time entrepreneur and founder of KeyeStrategies, understands what keeps an owner up at night and the balancing act required to work both ‘in’ and ‘on’ the business. The firm’s mission is to help business owners increase enterprise value and prepare for a future exit.

Julie believes in providing outside perspective and mentoring, which made all the difference for her while spending years growing and improving her companies before selling and becoming a business adviser in 2011.