Ground Water Canada

Features Business Staffing
Editorial – Winter 2014

Transition planning - Has succession planning become a dirty word?

January 6, 2014  By Laura Aiken

Being in my early 30s, I’m nowhere near retirement. However, far from
having some idyllic fantasy of a life of leisure, I already fear the

Being in my early 30s, I’m nowhere near retirement. However, far from having some idyllic fantasy of a life of leisure, I already fear the prospect. What will I do all day? How will I keep purpose in my life? I like to be busy and useful, and considering the industry you are in, I imagine that you do too.

Since I am in a poor position to be much of a retirement advisor (only an apprehensive one-day potential retiree), I urge you to turn to page 20 for sound advice from a really experienced professional in succession planning for small businesses. I was fortunate to hear Grant Robinson, director of the BDO SuccessCare Program, speak, and am happy to turn his tips over to you. My favourite wisdom of all that he imparts is to use the word transition instead of succession. Succession implies retirement, and retirement is a dirty word when you see it not going so well for your friends or feel that you will no longer serve a purpose. It’s a common but scary concept to think that if we stop having a purpose every day we will simply pass away. Purpose is a notion clung to like a loved one in a hurricane.


I love the word transition, because that’s what we do our whole lives. We transition from children to adults to parents to grandparents or other varieties of family roles. We transition our careers from young and a little inept to old and quite adept.

You’ve transitioned your business from empty lots to yards with fleets, to a business number to a profitable corporation, and progressed from earning your keep to offering your crew the opportunity to earn their livelihood.

Transitioning is as natural as oatmeal for breakfast. To me, it’s always meant “on to the next adventure.” A friend recently told me of a couple she knows who just retired, and as their retirement plan, moved to Honduras to work at a mission in an orphanage. Wow! Sounds like quite the adventure. This is not necessarily an appealing notion to all, but it’s important to remember that the future is yours to plan. 

Your business needs to be prepared for your next adventure, whether it’s a embarking on a Third World mission or becoming a full-time hockey grandparent or competitive senior golfer. It needs to be able to run without you. Whether you decide to sell within your family, make an outside sale, or simply sell off the equipment and close up shop, you’ll want to devote the same energy and find the same joy in the days ahead that you did in the days behind. Planning can greatly help increase your joy and energy of the day at hand by the very nature of taking action, and we at Ground Water Canada hope you pick up some useful planning tips from Robinson.  

On the note of planning, it’s a new year and it’s a CanWell year, which is an exciting time for the ground water industry. This year, the British Columbia Ground Water Association will be hosting the event in beautiful Kelowna from June 10-14. This year’s promises a winery tour and a golf tournament too! I hope to see you there.

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