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Plan For the Uncertainty

When the world comes to an end, I always say that you want a caterer on your team. A caterer knows how to plan, adapt, and execute whatever is thrown at them. Why then aren’t we treating our businesses the same way? What is the point of building your legacy business if there isn’t a plan? A plan that is spoken, written, and executed by professionals, not just in your head.

On New Year's Eve 2011, my dad went into a coma. The prognosis wasn’t good. He was non-responsive and according to the doctors, he wouldn’t make it through the week. This was unacceptable to me. Immediately I went into what I call catering mode. There was a problem and I needed to solve it. First, I needed to make sure Dad came out of it. Second, I needed to make sure that the business continued to move forward despite my tragedies.

Although I had been the keyman in the business for the past decade, a written succession plan was never created. All the family had was an outdated will stating who would be the guardian of their children if something were to happen to them. Married and thirty-two, I am pretty sure I didn’t require a guardian. Worse than that, who is going to take over the business? For the past decade, I had worked tirelessly in the business with the assumption that it would be mine someday. After all, I had sacrificed time, friendships, and my overall well-being for the business while my siblings had gone off into the world and chased their dreams (not begrudging them). 

The good news is that we dodged a bullet that week. Dad ended up coming out of his coma. As soon as he was coherent, the lawyers were brought in to update my parents’ final wishes and their plans for succession. Once the documents were executed a conversation with the entire family took place to ensure that we all had a clear understanding. On the advice of our attorney, each member of the family signed a memo stating they understood the succession plan for the business. On May 23, 2012, Dad took his last breath. 

Learning from the past I immediately started reaching out to professional advisors (lawyers and financial advisors) to help me create my succession plan. Once the succession plan was in place there was a realization that an exit strategy was needed.  The succession plan exists to ensure that the business will continue to run smoothly even if a key member of the organization leaves unexpectedly.  The exit strategy is put into place to maximize the value of the business. Both were created and reviewed with my advisors once a year.  This allowed my organization the peace of mind that the business would be protected no matter what life throws at us.  There is one undeniable fact that we must all face as business owners; life will always have other plans for you therefore it is important to plan for the uncertainty of life.  


Kathryn Albarado

Generational business and life coach

As a third-generational family business owner, Kathryn spent 22 years navigating the hills and valleys of leading a family business.

There is more to her than being a businesswoman. For those who have seen ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ - this is her family in a nutshell. Of course, there are small differences but more commonalities than not....