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It’s often said (mainly by sports-mad people) that sport is a great metaphor for life. I believe this is true and there are lessons we can learn from sport that we can apply to our businesses.

Over the last few months, I’ve been working on succession issues with a few of my private coaching clients. I thought about great examples of succession in the sporting world and used that as a basis for an article I wrote that was published in RiskInfo magazine back in June. In this article, I compared and contrasted the way the Sydney Swans and Collingwood handled the succession of senior coaches, Paul Roos and Michael Malthouse, respectively. Both were handled quite differently and, as a result, relations between the clubs and the exiting coach, players and supporters were poles apart.

My article highlights 11 ‘Top Tips for Success in Succession’ – but, I believe the 3 most important tips are:

1. Keep communication lines open between all parties;

2. Brainstorm every conceivable scenario and document a plan of action/mitigation strategy for each scenario (eg illness, death, divorce, breakdown, sale to external party, sale to other partner etc);

3. Communicate with staff as early as possible in the process. Decide on the key messages you want them to receive. Don’t assume that they have no idea what’s going on, as they will have picked up on something – better to be open with them.

Importantly, there is much help out there for business owners who are thinking about leaving the profession – and the sooner you start planning for succession, the better.