The Cass County Economic Development Corp. received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help businesses in Cass County prepare for succession.

“Nobody can work forever,” Mike Paulus, executive director of Cass County Economic Development Corp., said in a news release. “Many Cass County businesses can continue to operate long after the founder has left the business. But it takes preparedness, whether it passes to a family member or the business is sold.”

Succession planning has long been a business buzz phrase, but is not always understood, the release stated.

“One day, the owner will need to sell the business. Whether they want to or not. In order to give the business the best chance to flourish under new ownership, it takes a team approach. There are many perspectives to consider. There needs to be a well thought out plan for the owner to follow,” Paulus said. “We can bring everyone to the table and get the conversation started. We can ask the hard questions. That’s what’s needed.”

The worst thing a business owner can do, Paulus added, is delay.

“If the owner thinks, ‘I’ll deal with this topic later,’ then they’ve made the first mistake. What if there isn’t a later? What if your hand is forced and the business isn’t ready?” he said.

The economic development corporation will host a number of presentations throughout the county to educate business owners on why succession planning is so important, but the key to the grant comes with a more personal approach.

“We can start meeting with the business owner now, face to face. Services are covered under our grant, but only until October 2020. We can get a lot done between now and then. It can be tough to think about selling a business you’ve created and managed for years, but we can help,” Paulus said.

Owners of businesses located in Cass County can call Paulus or Marina Lovell at 218-547-7262 to set up an initial meeting.