As baby-boomers reach the age of retirement, over a trillion dollars in business assets will shortly change hands. Done right, this transfer could provide a net benefit to the communities where the businesses reside. Yet over half the prospective retirees have done no succession planning. Could it be that they want more from the sale than the maximum financial return?
If so, this represents a unique opportunity. As the work of the City of Nanaimo (B.C.), the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, and Chicago's Early Warning System and Manufacturing Renaissance Council demonstrates, a more systematic and community-based approach to succession planning can retain businesses and jobs. This is especially true when owners are presented with a broader range of succession options, including social enterprise. With its structural flexibility and attention to non-financial values, social enterprise can resolve complex needs, aspirations, and circumstances that private enterprise may not.
The opportunity, then, is not for more succession planning but for succession facilitation: the process of enabling owners to assess a wide range of succession options and connect them with companies, entrepreneurs, or workers who share their commitment to business and community.