8 steps for handing over the management of a company and retiring before your 30s
20. June 2019
David Kašper, co-founder of an internationally successful financial group, member of the board of directors, and CEO of Purple Holding a.s., handed over his role to several managers and “retired” before his 30th birthday. Why and how did he do it and which steps do you need to take to achieve this same success?
The business of one of the most successful graduates from NEWTON College, David Kašper, went through a few crucial moments but, together with his colleagues, he handled everything, and his company blossomed. Not long after, however, as David admits, it outgrew even himself.
“At one time, the company was facing an existential crisis, but we managed to overcome it. The company then grew, however, I had run out of energy because I wasn’t able to mentally shut off the crisis mode. In August, when I was 29 years old, I felt the signs of burnout. I didn’t enjoy anything at work, I was exhausted, but I told myself that I couldn’t leave because the crisis was still going on,” says David Kašper, starting his story.
Luckily, he had good friends and colleagues at his side, who helped him understand that the problem was just in his head. “When you’re in the top position, who other than yourself is going to put pressure on you? At that moment, I told myself I needed to do something about it.”
At first, David took 3 weeks off-line and when he discovered that the company was still standing after 3 weeks, he decided he would hand over the company within one year: “My goal? To not even touch Slack or email for several months and that nobody would be relying on me.”
So, the plan was in place but now came the worst part: Putting the entire handover process in motion. David Kašper described at a lecture at NEWTON College what you have to do to entrust your company to someone else so that everything will continue working as it should.
Even in the worst moments, David still had a smile on his face. When speaking about himself, he says he’s a positive person and he’s always looking for the positive side of things.
Step no. 1: Write down your role in extreme detail
“I wrote down exactly everything I do, including how much time it takes me. When I then looked at the pie chart, it was obvious that I have to pick people to take it all over for me. Simply picking a new CEO isn’t how it works,” describes David.
Step no. 2: Pick the right people or have HR find them
Choose your replacements from inside the company, or search together with the HR department for people on the outside. Both options have their pros and cons. When you find someone from the inside, you then have to find others to take their old positions. When you find someone from the outside, you’re always risking that they just won’t work well with the team, and you’ll lose precious time in training them.
Step no. 3: Create a monthly plan of handing over the administration
Clearly plan out who, when, and which roles will be taken over. Only ever hand over one role at a time. Otherwise, it’ll get out of control and cause confusion. “I set up 4 main areas in which I work and dedicated a quarter of the year to each of them. Only one area at a time. At the same time, the HR department was searching for new workers who would take up the positions of the people I would be giving responsibility to,” says David.
Step no. 4: Don’t forget to explain to your employees what is happening and why
Communicate clearly and precisely what you’re doing and what you’re trying to achieve. And mainly focus on ensuring everyone understands that you retiring isn’t only a good plan for you but primarily for the company. “I had to say quite clearly that I wasn’t leaving because I didn’t enjoy working there anymore, but so I could open space for more specialised people who would be better in the given roles that myself,” tells David.
Any time you make big changes in the company, make sure all your colleagues understand why. Only then can you prevent panic and negative feelings.
Step no. 5: Hand over the administration, formalise the processes and sharing information in the company
“Before, everything would go through me, so I knew all that was happening. Now, however, it was important to ensure the 12 people responsible for various areas shared information amongst themselves. With my colleague Honza Staněk, we agreed that one meeting was enough where every person would present several slides from their area, meaning they would all see everything within 30 minutes,” says David, explaining his solution.
As a ground-breaking moment, David describes one of these meetings where he made a joke about the topic they were discussing and his colleague who was presenting said: “David, it’s not like that – you know what, go retire already,” “That was a really good feeling. That was the first time I realised they no longer needed me there, they could handle it themselves. I knew that they meant it as a joke while also giving me the support to leave,” describes David with a smile.
Step no. 6: Make it clear when your delegate, not you, will answer emails
Some time before the complete handover, inform everyone that, from now on, you’re no longer the responsible person, rather your replacement is. You will now only fill the role of advisor and you’ll no longer be checking emails. It’s important to do this before you actually leave the company, so your people can get accustomed to it.
Step no. 7: One month before you leave, just sit back and observe from a distance
Rid yourself of all your performance-based functions and just watch how your replacements lead. If needed, help them, consult with them, and support them. Don’t worry, they can handle it without you.
Step no. 8: Be strict about upholding your departure date
Only then will it force you to really hand everything over. Of course, you can’t plan D Day right from the beginning. “About 3 months before you hand everything over, you should already know when you can leave the company. Set the date and then don’t change it. Otherwise, you’d just be pushing it off forever,” advises David.
Without trust, it won’t work
To handle leaving your company, you have to trust your people unconditionally. “I remember my last day vividly. I closed Slack and set up an automatic reply on my email. From that point on, I didn’t look at Slack or my email for four months. I remained in contact with my colleagues but had stepped away from the everyday functioning of the company,” remembers David, detailing his leave for retirement, something he spent 1 year preparing.
At his lecture at NEWTON College, David described his journey to the students from his start in business, all the way to his “retirement”, leaving them with several great pieces of advice on how to handle everything.
5 reasons why you should hand over the company to management
Since the company has been functioning without David for 1 year now, he’s been out long enough to see 5 great things that his departure gave him and the company:
- Since he was gone, other people had space to grow, as they had taken on new obligations.
- He no longer slowed down the company because certain things had to go through him, and he didn’t have time for them.
- He could shake off the weight of responsibility that he had carried for many years, using up huge amounts of his energy.
- He could enjoy the feeling that not only had he built up the company, but he also handed it over. This is something that most managers can’t do even after 60 years.
- New horizons had opened up to him. “I once again discovered the creativity and energy I had in the beginning, which tends to drown in everyday management,” David says.
Be ready to get hit hard by reality
After many years with his foot on the gas, everything slowed right down. “And when I thought I was mentally well-prepared, the difference was abysmal and I had to do something to stop it. After a few weeks of travelling, seeds of depression started to pop up, I had suddenly lost the reason to get out of bed in the morning,” describes David.
In the end, however, he decided to focus on education in the fields of leadership and company culture. He wrote about his time-tested managerial approaches in his book: “In my free time, I try to help young entrepreneurs get their business off the ground. Right now, this is what’s pushing me forward. And this is the happiest I’ve been over all my years of doing business,” confides David, concluding his story.
Also, read on which pillars David Kašper and his colleagues built his free company.
Who is David Kašper?
David Kašper is a graduate of NEWTON College who, together with two of his classmates, founded two internationally successful brokerage firms and one tech company. He is the author of the book Aximan - Stopy Spokojeného Manažera (Aximan - The Footsteps of a Satisfied Manager), which helps young entrepreneurs with their business. As the CEO of Purple Holding, he successfully passed the management of the company to his managers, so he could retire at the age of 29. Not even 6 months later, though, he returned to fill completely new roles, focusing on finding investments in fintech companies from around the world and education in leadership and corporate culture.