Lauren Miller is a 33-year old determined to help the Black community build a generational legacy.
She ran her Millennial-focused travel and lifestyle brand, Can’t Stay Put, for years until her father, Dave Miller Sr., became terminally ill. That’s when she decided to pause “Can’t Stay Put” to focus on expanding Miller3 Consulting, Inc., formerly D.J. Miller & Associates, Inc., a business founded by her father in 1986.
Today, after a successful transition plan, Miller and her siblings own the company. She serves as Director of Business Development, and her brother Dave J. Miller serves as Chief Executive Officer.
Ms. Miller is on a mission to help Black families achieve generational legacy through proper succession planning.
I interviewed Miller on The Dreamers Podcast. She shared her best advice for anyone interested in successfully transitioning a business to the next generation.
Help your kids understand their origins and who they are as individuals.
For Miller, a successful succession plan starts years before the transition happens. The first step is to help kids appreciate their heritage and giving them the space to figure out who they are.
“Nurture and teach your kids who they are and where they come from,” Miller said.
Miller shared a story about her great-great-grandfather purchasing land in 1910, a piece of land still in their family today. Understanding that her ancestors cleared the land manually because they didn’t have access to a tractor gave Miller and her siblings a greater sense of pride.
Miller also noted the importance of raising your kids to be independent thinkers who gain experiences outside the family business.
”I always wanted to make sure that I was my own person, outside of who my parents were and what they had done. I had lived a lot of my life and had pursued a lot of my dreams and aspiration, and I still am,” said Miller.
Miller believes her independent life and professional experiences make her a better asset to the family business.
Have open conversations with your family to share your vision and gauge interest.
Miller highlighted the importance of getting clear on your vision for the business beyond your lifetime. Also, gaining clarity on your family’s vision is equally important. It’s during those conversations that you can share your mission and vision with your family and gauge their interest.
Also, giving your kids the space to decide which role they want to play in continuing the generational legacy.
Knowing years in advance if your kids are interested in running the business or just being owners will give you time to prepare for a successful transition together as a family.
Determine what retirement looks like for you as an owner and identify your successor early.
For business continuity beyond the founder’s lifetime, Miller talked about the importance of having a retirement plan.
As a founder, determine “when you want to step back and play an advisory role.” Also know “when you want to get to the point where you don’t play a role in the business anymore and just collect a check,” she said.
“Start identifying who your successor is early,” she added. It’ll help determine “what training is needed.” It’ll also help identify “gaps in the successor’s knowledge.” During this process, Ms. Miller shared the importance of figuring out if the successor needs additional training. Whether it’s through certification, formal education, or getting experience somewhere else. The founder must ensure the successor(s) get what they need to be prepared for the transition so the legacy can continue successfully.
Create a record of your standard operating procedures.
For any activity that you or an employee of the business performs regularly, it’s important to document the processes. It helps ensure that someone else can perform the tasks and continue the generational legacy. Unfortunately, many small business owners do not take the time to record their standard operating procedures (SOPs). That mistake will make a succession plan a lot more challenging. If doing it in-house is not an option, “hire the different service providers you may need. Management consultants, lawyers, bankers,” Ms. Miller said. She shared that her family has tons of recordings of her father, which helped transfer business knowledge. Though it might not be possible for every family to do that, it’s an option worth considering.
Transfer your network while alive.
Miller shared that before her father’s passing, her father had made introductions and empowered her brother and her to represent the company in meetings. That process helped collaborators get acclimated to working with them. It also provided the siblings with a solid network of people to reach out to while continuing the generational legacy.
“Succession planning is not a one-time event.” Miller said.” It can’t be handled in a roundtable discussion. It can take three to five years. It’s a process.”
Anne-Lyse Wealth is a Wealth Coach, Writer, Ghostwriter and Host of The Dreamers Podcast.