75% of small businesses don’t have succession plan: Two groups to help with planning

Event designed to benefit not only owners, but Dayton area communities, one of the organizers says.

Two organizations are offering a free workshop to help small businesses with succession planning.

The workshop will give an overview of succession planning; help business owners set goals for a transition; provide a planning guide; and offer one-on-one support to attendees.

One of the most difficult parts of succession planning is learning how to start, Roy Messing, director of the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, one of the participating organizations, said.

“You’re facing a cliff, and you don’t have any tools or resources, you have to climb that cliff, but how do you get there? And if you don’t have any understanding of what that will take or have anybody to help you climb that cliff, you just stall,” Messing said.

Economists predict more than 100,000 small businesses have closed due to the pandemic, according to an article published in Fortune Magazine. The last thing on the minds of small business owners still afloat in a struggling economy is a succession plan, according to Messing.

Messing says that 75-80% of business owners, in his experience, don’t have a real succession plan pre-COVID 19.

“And now with COVID-19, it has certainly dampened business operations, earnings, and just the economy in general,” Messing said.

This event helps small businesses but also benefits the city of Dayton and surrounding communities.

“One of the key reasons we are interested in the cooperative model generally, is that it distributes ownership of the business, so it’s not just one person who can decide to close the business, it’s not just one person who has all of the knowledge about how the business functions, and so in that way we can better retain businesses and jobs in our region,” Rachel Meketon, program director of Co-op Dayton, said.

Helping businesses develop a succession plan will be beneficial to the workforce, giving individual workers stability and equity stake as well as making sure owners exit the businesses at the value they hope to achieve.

“I think a lot of small business owners have these ideas sort of in the back of their minds, and so having Roy explicitly ask the questions about what their plans are, what their current situations are, is helpful for bringing it to the forefront and envisioning what it could really look like in an explicit way,” Meketon said.

The Dayton co-op is currently working with three businesses in the city of Dayton and the surrounding rural regions on succession planning so they can eventually hand their business off to other people while keeping the business viable.

The free workshop takes place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18, with attendance limited to 50 people. Register at: https://dayton-succession-workshop.eventbrite.com

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