Author Katherine Courage wrote an article for Vox News where she interviewed doctors who collectively have cared for more than 100 dying Covid-19 patients over the past 11 months. They shared what their patients have gone through physically and mentally as the virus killed them and their experiences reveal the isolating and invasive realities of what it is typically like for someone to die from Covid-19. One critical care and pulmonology specialist shared his patients' traumatic experience, “as their lungs deteriorate further, they have a harder and harder time getting enough oxygen with each breath, meaning they need to breathe faster and faster — up from an average of about 14 times per minute to 30 or 40. Such gasping can bring about a very real sense of panic. You can do that for 15 to 20 seconds, but try doing it for two hours or days or weeks."

Another doctor recounted how his patients struggled through low oxygen levels, “they felt like there was a band across their chest or that their lungs were on fire. Or like a thousand bees stinging them inside their chest. The ordeal is so taxing that many wish for death. One patient said, 'I just want to die because this is so excruciating, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.’" 

This heartbreaking narrative is an opportunity for business owners to open their eyes to the dangerous and adverse impact COVID death (or any kind of death) can cause the family and the business. This is indeed a very tumultuous time and the COVID-related deaths of dozens of business owners we all knew bring into sharp focus the need for a structured plan. As a founder or business owner, maybe you trust your children enough thinking they will do better in running the business, or you just don’t see the reason why you need to initiate a succession plan early, but anything can happen and therefore you must be prepared.

Death can happen anytime

When you die, anything can happen. Your family still reeling from your loss may just decide to sell it all, or if you have partners, they may just take your share without leaving any financial security for your family. Your creditors will also not waste time and could even step in, asserting their claim on your estate or hard-earned wealth, or they may just push for liquidation so they can have possession of your assets. Put it simply, it all goes up in the air without your say. So if you think it is worth preserving the success you’ve created in life when you experience death, then you need to make the proper arrangements to make sure that happens.

Any death can disrupt a functioning family and can mercilessly cause the family business to jolt and veer off course. At worst, the lack of preparation and the limited experience of your spouse and children conjoined with entitlement can cause the business you nurtured with all your heart to simply fall apart and disintegrate.

Procrastination is the thief of time

If there’s one trait that is so uncharacteristic of founders and family-business owners, it’s procrastination! After all, practically every element of their lives, from successfully building a business empire from nothing to expanding their wealth to inspiring and leading the hundreds or thousands of employees, are testaments to the fact that they not only know how to get things done but are aggressive and determined to a degree far beyond the average.

Sadly, when it comes to the succession of their business, especially the transfer of power to the next generation, the majority of family-business owners put off the steps necessary to plan ahead. But if you want your family to honor your last wishes, they must know what your wishes are. The same goes for a successor. Not to mention, you are basically throwing your business away if you don’t plan to keep it alive after you pass away.