Next in line…

Next in line…

With the announcement yesterday that Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple, CEOs of smaller companies may be left pondering their own futures and wondering when they, too, might decide it’s time to pass the baton.

Jobs, who’s been on medical leave since January, will be replaced by COO Tim Cook, who has filled in for him before. But, smaller business owners don’t always have such a clear path to succession.

Mary Cosgrove, owner of a business srategy coaching firm, says that she sees CEOs leave for lots of reasons, including, as is presumably the case with Jobs, failing health.

Just as often, though, she sees business owners who leave their companies because they no longer have what it takes to keep growing the company.

“Often, it’s someone who starts the company and then can’t move it beyond a certain point,” Cosgrove said. “I spend a lot of time coaching them to get ready to step aside and go find somebody who can grow the company larger.”

She said that’s often hard for an entrepreneur to do. She’s seen many do it successfully, but, in some cases, it’s a very difficult transition. For the sake of the business and its employees, however, it’s often essential.

Cosgrove said it’s important for a CEO or business leader to look for someone with a different skill set than their own when succession planning. “It’s important to look for someone that’s had different experience than you who can build the company to a bigger place,” she said. “Many times the things you need to start a business– the ideas and the passion – are not the same things you need to take it to the next level.”

“Businesses are just like people,” she said. “If we don’t continue to grow, we die.”

Do you have a succession plan?

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