Decisiveness in Making Money, Indecision in Succession

By Prof. Enrique Soriano

Business owners are renowned for their decisiveness when it comes to deal-making. They are seasoned negotiators, experts in their industries, and are unafraid to make bold decisions. Yet, when it comes to succession planning—passing the torch to the next generation or a chosen successor—many business owners exhibit a surprising indecisiveness. This paradox warrants exploration as it carries significant implications for the future of their businesses.

The Deal-Making Comfort Zone

Deal-making is the arena where business owners feel most at home. Years of experience and industry expertise have honed their negotiation skills. Whether it’s securing a lucrative contract, acquiring a competitor, or forming strategic alliances, they thrive in this environment. The decisions they make in the realm of deals often yield immediate and tangible outcomes—increased revenues, market expansion, or enhanced competitiveness. Their track record of success reinforces their decisiveness in this arena.

The Emotional Ties to Their Business

The root of indecision in succession planning often lies in the emotional attachment business owners have to their companies. For many, their business is not just a source of income; it’s their life’s work, their legacy. The thought of relinquishing control and entrusting their creation to someone else can be emotionally overwhelming. This emotional connection can lead to hesitance in making decisions about succession.

Immediate Impact vs. Long-term Planning

Deal-making often yields immediate changes or improvements in a business’s performance. Succession planning, on the other hand, is a long-term endeavor. It involves choosing a successor, developing their skills, and ensuring a smooth transition of leadership. The impact of these decisions may not be immediately apparent, which can make business owners more inclined to procrastinate or delay making choices related to succession.

The Complexity of Succession Planning

Succession planning is a multifaceted process that encompasses legal, financial, and interpersonal aspects. It’s not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and each business’s situation is unique. The complexity of this process can create uncertainty and indecision. Business owners may feel ill-equipped to navigate the legal intricacies or financial considerations involved, contributing to their hesitance.

The Fear of the Unknown

One of the fundamental reasons for indecision in succession planning is the fear of the unknown. Business owners may wonder whether their chosen successor will be able to handle the business as effectively as they have. This fear of uncertainty can paralyze decision-making and lead to a reluctance to proceed with the planning process.

Overcoming Indecisiveness in Succession Planning

To address indecisiveness in succession planning, business owners should consider several strategies:

Seek Professional Advise : Engaging professionals such as lawyers, financial advisors, and succession planning experts can provide valuable guidance and expertise in navigating the complexities of succession planning.

Start Early: Initiate succession planning well in advance to allow for thorough consideration of options and decisions over time. Early planning provides a buffer against the uncertainty of the future. 

Foster Open Communication: Transparent communication with potential successors and stakeholders is crucial to align expectations and reduce uncertainty. It ensures that everyone involved is on the same page.

Educate Themselves: Invest time in understanding the intricacies of succession planning to build confidence and reduce indecision. Education can empower business owners to make informed decisions.

Consider Interim Solutions: If not ready for a full transition, consider interim solutions like appointing mentors or interim CEOs that are experts and gradually involve successors in decision-making and operations. This can ease the transition process.


While business owners may be renowned for their decisiveness in deal-making, the realm of succession planning often presents a different set of challenges. Emotional ties, the fear of the unknown, and the complex nature of succession can lead to indecision. However, by seeking professional guidance, starting early, fostering open communication, educating themselves, and considering interim solutions, business owners can navigate the path of succession with greater confidence and ensure a smooth transition for the future of their businesses.

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