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Realizing that many established entrepreneurs, including real estate broker/owners, are inching closer to retirement, ERA Real Estate has been leading the conversation on succession planning.

For many business owners, preserving their legacy as a business and community leader is just as important as ensuring the financial health of their company after they retire. To do that, you need to leave your legacy in good hands and that planning needs to begin sooner rather than later. In fact, as we’ve noted before in previous blog posts, Entrepreneur recommends finding a successor at least three years in advance!

To that end, here are four valuable tips for any entrepreneur.

One:  No matter what industry you’re in, follow these tips from our February succession-focused post about planning for the future. You’ll learn how to define your goals in line with your industry, encourage your team to ask questions early and often, and how to establish a transition timeline. Read it here.

Two: ERA Brokers: We have a treat for you. As you know, ERA Real Estate in conjunction with Realogy Corporation launched Ascend: Executive Leadership Experience in 2015 and 2016 interest is already very strong. ERA Brokers Only: you can learn more about the program and request an application here. It’s a great, intensive program but don’t just take our word for it. Here are two testimonials from current participants Tom DeWine, president and COO of ERA Colonial Real Estate in Harker Heights, Texas and Josh Wright, General Manager at ERA King Real Estate in Anniston, Alabama.

Josh offers, “I was concerned about spending time away from the office to participate in Ascend. However, the time commitment has been well worth it, helping me to enhance my company upon my return to the office from each session. Learning how to grow my company via acquisition activities and honing my financial knowledge with an exclusive Ascend financial tool was worth its weight in gold.”

Tom agrees, adding, “The collaboration, topics and quality of heavy-hitting speakers during Ascend has far exceeded my expectations and needs. The live sessions and opportunity to build relationships with other brokers and leaders are very valuable. I’ve augmented my understanding of myself as a leader thanks to what I’ve learned during the program. And, Ascend has renewed and re-inspired my focus and effectiveness in working on the business – something that often falls by the wayside for many.”

Three: Leadership effectiveness is essential to proper succession planning and Josh agrees with Tom that focusing on learning to work on the business has helped him be a better leader.

“Ascend has impacted my leadership effectiveness by teaching me about myself through emotional intelligence. It has changed how I lead and how I conduct interviews. Being aware of different social styles has helped me understand the emotions of others. In the past, I just said what I felt and moved on. That has changed with my growth in social awareness.”

Four: For anyone learning to be a great leader and hoping to run a business someday, consider these wise tips from Josh and Tom.

“Learn as much as you can about your industry and network – Ascend has taught me that. And, while paperwork is important to our day-to-day, remember to seek out as much hands-on-learning as possible.”

Added Tom, “It is absolutely essential that emerging leaders immerse themselves in leadership training and business acumen. Ascend did that for me and it has already proven to be effective in my leadership style and future goals planning, both for myself and my company.”