Figuring out what to do with your business is a tricky prospect. Scot Hunsaker wants to help. He’s launched St. Louis-based Ardent Group, a legacy planning consulting firm, to navigate the future options while growing the business.

When Hunsaker bought St.Louis-based Counsilman-Hunsaker from his father in 1999, he knew he needed to run it differently than his father had.

“I realized that if I wanted to grow the company, I was going to have to make significant changes,” Hunsaker said. “As the son, there was no way I was going to work harder than my father. My father was working seven days a week, 15 hours a day.”

The result was bringing in a group of employees as owners, with the long-term plan of them completely taking over company ownership. Earlier than planned, the employee group wanted to buy Hunsaker’s remaining ownership. Within 45 days, the agreement was negotiated, and the sale closed in December 2012.

“You can’t put an ownership deal together in 45 days if you haven’t laid the strong foundation and the understanding and the knowledge and trust about what is the heart of an organization to make that a successful transfer,” Hunsaker said.

Transitioning well also means starting early – much earlier than an owner might think of selling.

“If they’re in their 60s, they’re behind the gun,” Hunsaker said. He recommends 10 years for succession planning and readying the business and new owners. Of course, it can be done quicker with help.

Including the next ownership in meetings and client calls gives the owner the opportunity to have conversations about the business and have the “heir” learn through osmosis.

“I believe when you pick a leader, you let the cream rise to the top,” he added. “Because that’s going to give credibility to not only that individual from you, but it’s also going to give credibility to them in front of their coworkers.”

To learn more about how to transition your business, email Hunsaker at to sign up for one of two webinars, Nov. 13 and Dec. 4 at 1 p.m.