Leadership & Succession Planning​

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Succession Planning​

Succession planning is a vital part of family business continuity. Choosing a successor and setting a plan in motion can help guarantee that the business is sustainable from one generation to the next.

The Purdue Extension Succession Planning Team provides resources and information for families planning the transfer of the farm to the next generation. The team cultivates strong Indiana farm families through events such as Regional Workshops, Introduction to Succession Planning Presentations, and Farm Family Visits. Visit their page to learn more!



The Farm’s Legacy: A Guidebook for Intra-Family Succession is a publication authored by the Purdue Succession Planning Team. This guidebook is a culmination of years of firsthand knowledge and expertise with farm families and the intricate inter-workings of the succession planning process. Within this guidebook, you will find articles and exercises to guide you and your family farm through the succession process. At the core of succession is communication. Of course, other components are critical to succession as well. This guidebook covers the topics of: 1) Setting Goals for the Business, 2) Communication, 3) Financial Feasibility, 4) Protecting the Business & Mitigating Risk, 5) Management Transfer, and 6) Estate Planning & Ownership (Asset) Transfer. Our workbook is meant to educate, as well as spark conversations that may otherwise be difficult to start.

Keywords: succession planning, farm succession, ownership transfer, management transfer

 Access the guidebook

The Purdue Succession Planning Team in collaboration with the Center for Commercial Ag have recorded a series of podcasts related to succession planning. This series will cover multiple facets of succession, covering topics from the feasibility of adding a family employee to conflict management for transition planning. 

Keywords: succession planning, farm succession, farm family management, management transfer

 Access the PODCAST

Alan Miller and Craig Dobbins

Keywords: succession planning, action plan

This article is a practical step-by-step checklist for family business owners to decide where they are in succession planning process. The checklist also gives an action plan of what business owners need to do along with helping to identify any gaps in the planning. Steps included are: gather information and ideas and discover expectations, generate and examine/evaluate options, make preliminary decisions and check with experts, decide on a plan and develop the plan, and implement the plan.




Whether you are managing a farm family business or a family restaurant, good management skills are essential for running a successful business. Find out more here!

Craig Dobbins, Cole Ehmke, and Renee Wiatt

Keywords: job descriptions, farm management, planning, employee evaluation

Expectations in recent years have changed in regards to the formality of job descriptions in farm, family, and small businesses. In some instances, businesses are no longer keeping up with today’s standards. There is a clear and obvious need to develop fitting, fair, and concise job descriptions in any business, regardless of business size and if the employees are related. This publication examines some scenarios and also provides some example job descriptions.



Michael Langemeier

Keywords: management succession, management transition, strategy development, relationship management, leadership

Transferring business management between generations is one of the most critical steps in transitioning the business from an older generation to a younger generation. Having said that, in numerous instances, this step is given little thought. Transitioning management cannot be done overnight, and often requires a trial and error approach before it can be determined how each generation fits into the multiple generation business. This article briefly describes some of the key factors that need to be considered when transitioning business management from an older generation to a younger generation. The outline of this article roughly follows Hofstrand (2016c). However, this article elaborates on many of the points made by Hofstrand (2016c) and provides additional focus on getting the process started.



Michael Boehlje, Craig Dobbins, and Alan Miller

Keywords: financial management, strategy development, relationship management, leadership, risk management

To be a good production or plant manager, apart from outstanding production characteristics, there are several other, less talked about business management functions that farm managers of the future must perform well in order to achieve success. This publication provides lists of indicators and detailed checklists for each business function including production, procurement and selling, financial management, personnel, strategy development, relationship management, leadership, and risk management. The checklists help you perform a self-assessment in each area discussed, and are tools to stimulate your thinking about the activities farm business managers must perform. Over time, they can help you to track your progress in developing business management skills. At the end of this publication, you will find an annotated list of resources for each area discussed. If you choose to improve your skills in a particular area, these resources will provide useful starting points.



Michael Boehlje, Craig Dobbins, Alan Miller, Janet Bechman, and Aadron Rausch

Keywords: production and operations management skills, financial management, general business management skills, personal attitudes and decision skills

One critical issue faced by many families is the long-run financial success of the business after struggling through short-run financial stress. The checklists in this publication can assist you in assessing whether you have the required skills to achieve long-term succession given the profound changes in the agricultural industry and in the farming environment. The assessment checklists included identifying attitudes and skills in four fundamental areas: production and operations management skills, financial management skills, general business management skills, and personal attitudes and decision skills. The purpose of these assessment checklists is not to assess your chances of success (i.e., I will be successful because I ranked high on a particular checklist), but to identify specific skill, ability, and attitude areas that are critical for future success. The resource list with each checklist points you to reference materials that might be useful. The resources you consult will lead you to still other sources of information. We encourage you to pursue those leads as far as your interest carries you.



Contingency Planning​

It is always a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected. Whether it be the loss of an employee, loss of an owner, or an unexpected family emergency, contingency planning can help to minimize disruption for a family business.

Purdue Extension

Keywords: code red plan, business and farm operation

This resource helps you learn how to prevent a code red situation (i.e. if a business is unable to operate due to the loss of a key member) for your family, business or farm operation by having a completed Code Red plan. Topics included are passwords, bank account information, rental agreements, insurance papers and power of attorney documents and much more in one easy location. After completing the Code Red plan, family farms should turn a code red situation into a code green and the business can continue to operate on a daily basis. Code Red also can be a tool that helps families get motivated to get started on estate and/or succession planning.



Maria I. Marshall and Corinne Alexander

Keywords: human resource, risk, contingency plan

Human resource risk is critical to business development, yet it is often overlooked by the managers. This article provides information on how to tackle human resource risk by developing a contingency plan for the business. Each specific section in the plan is further explained in this article to further help you with the development of it.