Thinking of selling your business? Here’s why now might be the best time.

Business owners looking to sell or transfer their business to a family member may have some tax decisions to make if the Biden administration gets its tax code revisions through Congress this year.

Don Petrille, senior lawyer with High Swartz, Doylestown, said the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act created a lot of exemptions for business owners. However, many of those could go away by 2026, if not sooner.

The Biden administration’s American Jobs Plan would change the current Step-up in Basis law that Petrille explains using stock purchases as an example. “If you buy a stock at $10, that is your basis. If it appreciated to $15, your capital gain is $5,” he said. “If you give the stock to someone, they get your basis. So, under the current rules, the basis is based on what it is worth (when bought).”

That relates to selling a company. If an owner sells a company, the basis is what it is worth when it was started. Under the Biden proposal, the basis would be what the company is worth when sold. That will increase capital gains taxes.

John Reed, partner with Barley Snyder, Lancaster, expected capital gains to increase last year. “We all think change is coming, but we don’t know when.”

The takeaway, he said, “if someone is thinking about retiring, they should do it now when we know what the rules are.”

Colin Keefe, partner with Fitzpatrick, Lentz & Bubba, Allentown, agreed. “It’s a good time to sell because we believe taxes will go up in 2022.”

Reed said succession planning comes with many challenges. The proposed changes could make the financial challenges even greater.

“There is risk inherent in this,” he said. “If (the owner) needs to get money out of the business (to live on), he may sell to others and rely on monthly income. There is risk in that,” he said. “You hand control over to someone else and you no longer have control over the running of the operation.”

Petrille said owners have to take a holistic approach to keep the business going. “You have to look at what the departing owner is taking with him; his knowledge, vendor relationships, and what he contributes daily to the operation. How are you going to finance that?”

Insurance can offer some protection, he said. It can be used to retain people who can run the business or to get through rough times during the transition.

Many entrepreneurs will use a self-directed IRA to start a business, he said. The ownership is then tied to that. The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE) of 2019 says if you inherit an IRA, or a business funded by one, you have to liquidate it and pay income tax and penalties or pay income tax on the money over a 10-year period.

“This is also integrated with estate planning because you own a business and that business has value which is taxed by Pennsylvania,” he said. “So, you need to have liquidity to pay the taxes owed nine months after the person’s death.”

Inheritance tax now stands at 4.5 % for children and 12% for siblings.

“Business owners are perceived to be wealthy,” Petrille said. “But wealth doesn’t always mean you have liquidity.”

Consider the construction worker who starts his own business using his personal truck, he said. The basis for this business is zero. But, as the business grows, and the owner hires more workers, buys more trucks and maybe even establishes a shop, the business value goes up. And though the value has increased, there may be no extra cash flow. If the owner sells the capital gains would be on the basis of zero.

If the Biden plan is passed, the basis would be on the value of the company at time of sale. “So, if the business is worth, say $10 million, the taxes could total $4 million. Where do you get the cash to make the transaction?”

Keefe said it is a good time to sell if a business owner is thinking of retiring. “There are lots of buyers right now and the interest rates are still low.”

Biden’s tax plan is in committee. The proposed $4 trillion of new federal spending over 10 years will be partially funded with higher taxes on individuals and businesses. Members of the House and Senate have put forth bills that include everything from increases in capital gains and corporate income taxes to new individual and business tax credits, according to the Tax Foundation.

Unique Pretzels and Yuengling Brewery leaders talk planning and the importance of relevancy

Leaders of two, Lehigh area sixth-generation businesses — Unique Pretzels and D. G. Yuengling & Son – shared thoughts on staying relevant and the importance of planning for the transition of leadership, during the Family Business Alliance’s 2020 Fall Forum.

The Family Business Alliance is a program of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance.

Justin Spannuth, vice president and chief operating officer of Unique Pretzel Bakery, Inc., and Wendy Yuengling-Baker, chief administrative officer of D. G. Yuengling & Son, Inc., talked about company legacy, how their businesses have managed to remain relevant, the importance of meaningful collaborations, handling family dynamics and more during a discussion moderated by Paula K. Barrett, a partner with Reinsel Kuntz Lesher LLP who serves as advisory board chairperson and roundtable facilitator for the Family Business Alliance.

Pottsville-based Yuengling celebrated its 190th anniversary in 2019, while Unique, located in Muhlenberg Township, Berks County, will turn 100 in 2021.

Succession planning

Barrett began the discussion by pointing out that while 30% of family-owned businesses transition to a second generation, only 12% make it to a third generation and a mere 3% proceed to a fourth. She asked Spannuth, who joined Unique in manufacturing 20 years ago, and Yuengling-

Baker, who has been with her family’s company for 16 years after working elsewhere in market research and advertising, to account for the success of their family-owned businesses.

Both said success is based on determination, the ability to be versatile, willingness to invest back into the company to move it forward, and a logical succession plan.

Understanding a company’s succession, said Spannuth, is as important as achieving business success.

“I think the reason a lot of family businesses don’t progress is because they work really hard for success, but they don’t think about succession,” he said. “If you plan on keeping your business a family business, work as hard on succession as you do on success.”

Remaining relevant

When asked how their companies have remained relevant throughout their long histories, Yuengling-Baker and Spannuth said keeping focused on core brands while remaining adaptable to change is key.

“We know we have a strong core brand portfolio, and we work to not get distracted from that,” Yuengling-Baker said. However, she added, Yuengling makes a point of being receptive to customers’ preferences and tastes, paying close attention to their input.

“I think the key for any company is to lean into your brands, but always be open to what your customers are looking for,” Yuengling-Baker said.

While Unique plans to rebrand itself and expand its product line next year, its focus will remain on its core product – its signature Splits pretzel. The company plans to continue adding healthier snack items to its offerings, although it has not yet decided what those will include.

Navigating challenging times

While Yuengling Brewery and Unique Pretzel Bakery are undeniably successful companies, they both have weathered hard times. At 190 years, Yuengling has survived the Civil War, World War I, Prohibition, the Great Depression, World War II and other significant events. Yuengling-

Baker cited dedication from both family members and employees as key to assuring the company remains viable.

“I credit the commitment of not only the family, but also the employees to persevere and keep things moving forward,” she said.

Spannuth spoke of a challenging time for Unique when wheat prices doubled during the 2008 recession. He and his brother, Bill Spannuth, who currently serves as the company’s vice president and chief financial officer, decided during that difficult time to invest additional funds in the

company, rebrand it, change the product package size and raise prices, despite the objections of their father and grandfather.

“We made some hard decisions back then, but what was a hardship turned into an advantage, and the company grew significantly,” Spannuth said.

Handling family dynamics

The dynamics of a family-owned business can be tricky and hiring outside advisoes is sometimes key to managing them. Yuengling-Baker and Spannuth said having a written process for bringing family members into the business can help keep emotion out of hiring and job placement.

“Have a plan in place and when there’s not one in place get a consultant to put one in place,” Spannuth advised.

When a family member joins the business, the new employee should be prepared to learn about the company from the ground up, working to understand how all components fit together to make it successful and never expecting special treatment.

“You need to earn your stripes,” Yuengling-Baker said.

Forming meaningful collaborations

Introduced last year and brought back in 2020 by popular demand, Chocolate Porter is a hugely successful result of a collaboration between Yuengling Brewery and the Hershey Company. The seasonal brew, combining dark-brewed Porter with Hershey’s chocolate, offered the chance for two old, respected companies to come together.

“It gave us the opportunity to partner with another iconic Pennsylvania business, and the result was really successful,” Yuengling-Baker said.

Yuengling also has partnerships with the Philadelphia Phillies and sports teams in Tampa, Florida, where its third brewery is located. The company operates two breweries in Pottsville.

Unique partners with the Folds of Honor Foundation, an organization that provides academic support to families of service members who have been killed or disabled.

While collaborations can be beneficial, Barrett advised that a company be sure there is benefit to both partners.

Developing a succession plan is vital for family businesses 

Family businesses are a big and important part of the economy and account for more than 50% of U.S. GDP, and 35% of Fortune 500 companies are controlled by families and family owned companies are responsible for 60% of jobs in America.

A recent family business survey conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Family Business Alliance indicates that only 15% of the family businesses have developed and documented anything appearing to be a succession plan. This is troubling because succession of ownership and leadership is a critical issue for the long-term success of a business. 

Respondents to a Family Business Institute survey that asked why their business did not have a succession plan said that “time to deal with the issue” was a significant constraint. Other reasons included feeling it was too early to plan for succession, inability to find adequate advice or tools to start, finding the topic too complex, not wanting to think about leaving the business, and fear of conflict with family or employees

The undesirable result of not having a succession plan is evidenced by the great difficulty in surviving through multiple generations. A family business surviving to the second generation is a milestone event because only 30% make it through the second generation. Furthermore, only 12% make it through the third, according to PwC in “The Family Business Sector in 2016: Success and Succession.”

What Is Succession Planning?

Succession planning is a critical factor for the long-term success of any business and especially for family businesses. Leadership transitions in business affect the entire organization’s continuity, employee retention, client retention and returns on investment. It is essential to create and implement a process that creates visibility, accountability and greater integration of all facets of the business.

All business owners will depart their businesses at some point by design or by default. A succession plan

helps ensure that owners have control over how their businesses transfer to the next owner. Succession planning

is the process of developing a written plan for transition of ownership and leadership when an owner and/or

leader decides to leave the business either voluntarily, such as retirement, or involuntarily, such as death or


What needs to be done to prepare for succession planning for the family business? A suggested outline of a strategically structured process for family business succession planning is presented here.

FIRST: Start with seven actions to strategically structure a succession planning process. 

1: Begin the succession planning process early.

2: Clearly determine and communicate the purpose, goals, and extent of the leadership succession plan or program.

3: Clearly define the desired and required qualities of the new leader.

4: Develop a clearly focused leadership development strategy.

5: Develop a talent management process that will incorporate strategic thinking for specific development opportunities for future leaders.

6: Identify future leadership candidates by developing a system for assessing current and future leadership needs.

7: Identify a system for communicating information to ensure that the leadership succession and/or development programs are in line with strategic business needs.

Next: Follow an overall outline of the suggested planning process to create a succession plan. 

I: Goals & Objectives

  • Develop vision & mission statements for the business.
  • Develop a list of core values & guiding principles.
  • Develop short- & long-term goals for the business.
  • Identify the stakeholders for the business.
  • Develop a personal vision with personal goals.
  • Develop retirement goals.
  • Create a team of advisors for the succession planning effort

II. Exit Strategy

  • Develop options for departures from the business.
  • Review the developed options for the exit strategy from the business.
  • Select the most desired option for the exit strategy.

III. Business Valuation

  • Obtain professional advice to determine the value of the business.
  • Determine the value of the business.
  • Determine a current value of the business assets & liabilities.
  • Determine the goodwill value of the business.

IV: Business Structure

  • Identify and quantify business debt.
  • Recruit & retain productive employees.
  • Structure business to maximize value.
  • Document key processes & procedures used in the business.

V: Tax Considerations

  • Develop financial goals.
  • Identify tax implications of the current business.
  • Plan & implement tax strategy to minimize taxes.

VI: Legal Considerations

  • Retain professional legal counsel.
  • Develop a buy-sell agreement for the business.

VII:  Estate Plans

  • Retain a professional estate planning adviser.
  • Develop an estate plan.

VIII. Successor Selection

  • Develop specific criteria for successor(s).
  • Recruit and select successor(s) based upon identified criteria.
  • Communicate selection of successor to stakeholders.

IX: Successor Training

  • Develop a list of characteristics and skills needed by successor(s).
  • Develop a training plan for successor(s).
  • Develop a coaching/mentoring plan for successor(s).
  • Establish a timeline for successor(s) plan.

X: Contingency Plan

  • Develop a contingency plan (based on the “What Ifs?”).
  • Research & identify insurance needs (disability; personal life; critical illness; business; key person; etc.).\
  • Select & train a key employee to take over in case of emergency or unforeseen event.
  • Communicate the plan to stakeholders & advisers.

XI: Implementation Plan

  • Document the roles, responsibilities & expectations concerning the transition of ownership.
  • Identify a facilitator to make sure the process of succession is carried out.

XII: Timelines

  • Identify the management transition timeline.
  • Identify transition of ownership of your business timeline.
  • Identify the complete business exit timeline.

XIII:  Communication

  • Document the succession plan.
  • Document how to proceed with the succession plan in the event of an unforeseen event (accident, illness, death).
  • Document the transition or exit strategy to inform family, employees, clients, vendors, community & all stakeholders.

I leave you with this additional thought on succession planning.

“One of the things we often miss in succession planning is that it should be gradual and thoughtful, with lots of sharing of information and knowledge and perspective so that it’s almost a non-event when it happens.” Anne Mulcahy, former Chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation.

Glenn Ebersole is a registered professional engineer and is the Executive Director, Strategic Business Development/Marketing for RCS Construction – a woman owned general contractor firm – in Collegeville, PA. He can be reached at 610-415-1130 or [email protected] 

Owners are taking a strategic look into business succession during COVID-19 pandemic

Knowing the right time to pass down a business is as unique as the whorls on a fingerprint.

In the coronavirus era the path to small business succession and exit planning is lined with planning, purpose, flexibility and careful choices. 

“There is no once size fits all right now,” said Paula Barrett, a partner at RKL LLP, a certified public accounting and wealth management firm in Wyomissing.

Barrett said her firm is currently seeing a lot of succession activity driven in large part by lessons learned about its impact since the global pandemic began in March and the reality about how little control anyone has over unforeseen events.

Beyond coronavirus Barrett said the upcoming presidential election is also impacting decisions about business ownership and transfers, especially for those running family businesses.

“Those folks are seeing the opportunity of being able to transfer without any kind of impact because of the large life-time [tax] exemptions we currently have at $11 million per person,” she said.

Add in any negative impacts because of the virus on the company’s balance sheet and transferring ownership may be a little more cost efficient during this time.

Heavier or more widespread use of technology or the need to become more tech savvy in a short amount of time, especially if the current owner isn’t a digital native, could prompt a business succession strategy. 

“If a company is making a big transition into how it operates and the ‘heir apparent’ is more comfortable with technologies and the [digital] way of working” making the transition sooner could make sense, said Andrew Ward, a professor of management at Lehigh University in Bethlehem. 

Barrett said the unknowns swirling around the virus and response to it, along with election outcomes, market demands and the economy, in general, may be creating more urgency about planning.

She’s been receiving more calls about succession planning and strategies since coronavirus hit, which means business owners are thinking about it and the time it takes to achieve a solid plan. Barrett said it can take more than five years to formulate a succession plan.

She suggested the pandemic may have prompted business owners to take stock, maximize the company’s value, and begin or continue the succession planning process

“What this [pandemic] has shown is the need to plan ahead and prepare because succession and exit takes time. I think people are really seeing how important this is,” Barrett said.

Ward said because coronavirus has had different impacts on different businesses, the same has occurred with business successions.

“When you are making that sort of transition you want stability and a smooth change from one person to the next, [and] I think what you’ll see is that those transitions may be delayed during this time,” Ward said.

For those who are already facing turmoil because of the pandemic, adding in a business transfer might be more than they- or their employees, could handle right now

“It’s not going to help the transition. I think a lot where people were about to start that [succession] transition are more likely to delay it until there is more a sense of normalcy,” Ward said.

He noted there is significant value to passing the baton with the founder or previous owner still engaged during the transition, as well as being in a role during an overlap period. 

“You’ll see this with small or family businesses, but you even see it with the Walt Disney Company transition,” Ward said.

In February The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger announced he was stepping down, effective immediately and overnight Bob Chapek was the new CEO. 

“Chapek came on more quickly than anyone expected, but you’re seeing Iger stay around in an executive chairman role,” Ward said. Iger’s contract runs through December, 2021.

Ward expects this type of scenario – where a former boss or owner continues in some form of transition capacity, to play out across a variety of industry sectors and companies. 

Among the benefits of a slow transition are having access to the talent and history of the company in a founder or long-time owner, as well as keeping an established voice on hand to support the company’s culture and community.

Graham Simmons said there are business owners who may be hesitant to pass over the “keys” to the kingdom because of a massively uncertain future – especially moving into the fourth quarter of 2020 and dealing with coronavirus.

Simmons is co-chair of the business law group and administrative partner at the Pennsylvania office of Norris McLaughlin in Allentown. 

“There are others who hesitate to spend any additional money for consultants [to prepare for business succession right now] and those who can’t pass the business on fast enough,” Simmons said.

He noted enterprise values – the total value of an organization – for many businesses continue to remain unknown during this time. 

“The pandemic has forced people to look at the future differently,” Simmons said.

What’s more government regulations, the fluidity of the economy and rapidly changing public health guidance further fuel risk – and risk aversion to making many dramatic changes.

“When you are transitioning a business – especially to family or an employee succession, you will be paid over time. A good buy/sell agreement will tell you have to transition the ownership, but will also include a funding mechanism,” he said.

How eager will business founders or owners be to take on unsecured debt during a global pandemic?

David Matchett is vice president and wealth strategist for PNC in Bethlehem, and a certified exit planner.

He said while stressful and challenging the current conditions could offer a prime opportunity for small family owned and businesses to shift operations and ownership to the next generation, if they’re ready and willing. 

“For a business succession in the family, this is the optimal time,” Matchett explained.

He noted high exemption protection amounts from federal estate tax – that’s $23.2 million for a husband and wife, along with very low interest rates for borrowing, can be attractive incentives to pass down a business. 

“Under normal conditions you don’t see that too often,” Matchett said.

But not everyone is ready to retire or leave a business they’ve spent a lifetime building.

“I [still] see clients who want to die with their boots on in the business,” Matchett said.

Healthy economy and retiring boomers should fuel manufacturers’ growth

The progress of innovation in manufacturing and the availability of investment capital have created an environment that’s primed for merger and acquisition activity in 2020. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES –

The progress of innovation in manufacturing and the availability of investment capital have created an environment that’s primed for merger and acquisition activity in 2020.

Experts are seeing a healthy economy, for now, and a high number of aging business owners could mean 2020 will be a strong year for selling and buying activity in manufacturing.

“My view is yes, there will be transactions throughout the year,” said Joseph Zimring, director of Lehigh Valley Search Fund LLC in Allentown, a company he began that’s looking to buy a business. “I would encourage business owners to consider those types of buyers who are independent. That provides business owners that are maybe considering an exit a different set of expectations.”

Many companies, including manufacturers, look to acquisition as a way to grow their business, said Richard Hobbs, president and CEO of Manufacturers Resource Center in Upper Macungie Township.

He believes there will be more mergers and acquisitions this year for several reasons: the availability of cash from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act legislation, low interest rates, innovation in manufacturing, and the growing number of baby boomers who are business owners.

“Everyone is sitting on some cash, the tax cuts helped everyone on the corporate side,” Hobbs said.

For one Berks County M&A expert, it’s not easy to determine whether there will be more mergers and acquisitions for manufacturers in 2020.

“It’s really going to be dependent on the economy,” Randy Raifsnider, partner in the management advisory services group at Herbein+Co. of Spring Township. “We have not seen a slowdown of mergers and acquisitions. I think it’s tough to say if there’s going to be an increase.”

More innovation = higher value

Innovation helps make companies attractive to both buyers and sellers.

“The companies that are innovating more and have more to offer are usually higher valued,” Hobbs said.

As an example, East Penn Manufacturing in Berks County bought a lithium-ion company last year instead of developing the technology on their own. Developing new products can take years, whereas acquiring a company that already produces it is a quicker process, Hobbs said.

Innovations give manufacturers the ability to diversify their cash flow and most have multiple lines of products, added Raifsnider.

The high number of baby boomers reaching retirement age also gives buyers more choices, he said.

“What we have seen is a lot of individuals who want to transition out of their business,” Raifsnider said. “I think with some of the warning signs out there that the economy is teetering a little bit, people are getting a little nervous; things are starting to slow a little bit.”

Timing is critical

Buyers want a business that’s stable and if possible, one that’s demonstrated an ability to sustain operations during the last recession as there’s talk of a potential recession on the horizon, he added.

“In eastern Pennsylvania, there’s a dense manufacturing base,” Zimring said. “There are business owners that are rightfully thinking about what’s around the corner. I think the baby boomer generation is really a part of this.”

Baby boomers who are approaching retirement and who own these businesses may not have children, or their children may not be involved in the business so they need a buyer.

Timing is important too, because if another recession arrives, business owners would have to wait several years for the economy to turn around again before it would be an attractive time to sell, he added.

“I think there is a window that has presented itself where in 2020, for certain buyers, it could be an attractive time to sell,” Zimring said.

Sellers should be aware of the types of buyers out there

When it comes time to sell, business owners should be mindful of the different types of buyers in the market.

The trade/strategic buyer is often looking to acquire a similar company that’s doing the same thing and wants to keep it operating for a long time, Hobbs said. Meanwhile, the financial buyer is more concerned with numbers and could be a private equity or venture-capital company.

“The trade/strategic buyer wants something that fits well and hangs onto it for a long time,” Hobbs said.

“The financial one is just looking for numbers, something that makes them more money than they already have.”

The sellers should be thinking about what type of buyer they want, he added. Often, a financial buyer will hold onto the company for only a few years, or decide to relocate or shut the company down.

If the company is family owned, or independently owned, the buyer with an entrepreneurial or strategic approach would keep it as is, Zimring said.

“There will be entrepreneurs in the market,” Zimring said. “I think that’s a trend. I think there are business owners who recognize that. An offer is going to look and feel different if it’s more of an entrepreneurship through acquisition.”

A buyer that’s operating in that manner is looking for a healthy company, a business that’s enduringly profitable and has a history or strong cash flows, Zimring said.

When thinking about what’s best for the future of the company, the buyer and seller should have experienced advisers that they work with, he said.

Typically, a financial buyer might sell the company sooner while a strategic buyer or a family member who buys the company would likely hold onto the company for a longer time, said Raifsnider.

If a company is sold to a family member or strategic buyer, that’s a good indicator that the new owner wants to grow the company.







There is no cookie-cutter succession plan

As a Mergers and Acquisitions Specialist, I advise many business owners regarding their exit strategies. I am also often asked to advise companies wishing to begin the succession planning process.

When it comes to succession planning, I begin by pointing out the obvious. The first seven letters of the word spell “Success.” Whatever else the process of succession planning produces, the successful transition from one leadership team to another should be your primary goal.  Following are a few key points to consider when planning a succession:

Succession planning is a journey, not a destination.  Don’t begin with a solution and backfill it with a rationale. Building a successful business is a deliberative process with many stops along the way. The same should be true of succession planning. Take time to consider your business’ present needs and work to anticipate its future needs. Identify people you judge best able to fill those needs.

Don’t be captive to tradition.  In a family business, there is every possibility the predictable choice may not be the right choice to lead your company into the future.  While the obvious choice may be a great son or daughter, he or she may not also be a great leader.  If this is the case, don’t be afraid to make a difficult choice.

Be creative.  Should you feel it best to pass over a candidate who expected to claim leadership of your company, work to determine a productive work-around. This is especially true in a family business, where lingering resentment is not a viable option. Identify that person’s skillset and help him or her to achieve their full potential. For example, ask that person to establish and manage a scholarship fund for inner city youth.

View your company through a prism. Financial management, customer relations, community relations, building and property maintenance, sales management, service management and product knowledge are just a few areas of expertise needed to successfully run many businesses.  While one heir may have the right personality to manage the front of the house, a second heir may be more comfortable running the back of the house. While one heir may be a savant regarding your company’s product line, another may be a whiz with financial management. See yourself as being a conductor who combines the gifts of all orchestra members to produce beautiful music.

Succession plans should not be written in ink. Circumstances change over time.  People’s priorities change over time. Be prepared to change the names and lines on your succession plan as needed.

Embrace succession. It would be easy to view your company’s succession plan as an elegy for yourself. You could also view it as a constructive activity leading to your company’s rebirth.  This is an opportunity to choose the right leader and leadership team for the present and future of your company. Your industry has changed since when you founded it. The competitive landscape has changed. Government regulations and compliance guidelines have changed.  New leadership should be chosen based on its ability to succeed in this new environment.

Make a clean break.  When Vito Corleone passes leadership of his crime family to his son Michael in The Godfather, he tells his former lieutenants to fully accept Michael’s authority. He doesn’t remain a shadowy presence, ready to muddy the water at every opportunity. This clean break enables Michael to fully inhabit his leadership role.

Give your successors permission to build their own teams. By giving your successors permission to build their own teams, you are increasing their likelihood of success. Legacy team members must be willing to accept the authority of the new leader, or be given the opportunity to join a new team.

Choose your successor for the right reasons.  Your most loyal deputy may score off the chart for fidelity, but below average when it comes to decision-making. If fidelity were the key attribute of a successful leader, then dogs would inhabit all corner offices.

Make grooming your successors one of your most important jobs. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died, his Vice President Harry Truman had a lot of catching up to do. Share your experience, knowledge and wisdom generously with those who will succeed you.

Plan for yourself. Maybe you want to start a new company. Serve as a mentor. Join a board. Assume leadership of your residential association. Start a blog. As a successful businessperson, you have a lot to give.


Michael Lamm is a Managing Partner at Corporate Advisory Solutions, a boutique merchant bank headquartered in Philadelphia and serving Lehigh Valley businesses. Michael can be reached at [email protected] or 202-904-7192.