I don’t know what’s harder: raising children or building a business. But after doing both for several decades, I can say that, without a doubt, it’s more important to raise children. Nothing gives you more pride than watching your children develop into thriving adults. It’s our charge from God, and it’s one that my wife and I took very seriously.
God also instructs a good man to leave an inheritance to his children, and what better inheritance than to leave them than the business I started 30 years ago. So, when it looked like my time to step aside, step down or just step away was approaching, I prayed long and hard about how to pass the torch. My three children had all become accomplished in their own respective career paths, so I first had to transition them into the business. Then, I had to figure out how to transition the business to them.
As always, God sent me clear guidance and direction from a number of advisers and consultants including the Atlanta Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center. My family and I began working with them about three years ago and learned right away that succession planning is not just about letting someone –even with your last name – step into your role. It’s about relinquishing the reins to the right person and making a smooth transition of power that doesn’t interrupt or disrupt the success you’ve created. Sure, I’ve given my children many presents throughout their lives, but this was different. It wasn’t about wrapping up the business in a pretty package or putting a big C-suite key in a box. This was about preparing them, and myself, to pass down a legacy.
We all worked with the consultants to develop an action plan that would minimize the pitfalls that other businesses face when they fail to plan. We identified and talked about our strengths, challenges and vision for the future of the company. Coming in agreement, we found the right mix of skills, talent and aspirations to carry my vision forward and ensure success for those we work with and employ.
At the same time, I learned to step out of their way and not dictate to them how to lead. They each bring something unique to the business, and it’s my duty as the retiring CEO and their father, to help them develop their own leadership style. And that’s exactly what they’re doing.
While new leadership brings change, I am proud that my children have kept and embraced the Biblical guiding principal that I used — Proverbs 16:3. ENVIRO AgScience, Inc. continues to contribute time and resources to pay our civic rent in the communities where we do business. I’m proud of the adults my children have become, and I’m growing increasingly proud of who they are becoming as the new leaders of ENVIRO. I thank God for providing me with capable, loving hands to pass the torch.
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