I know that as a business owner, one major challenge is ensuring your business is still thriving even when you’re no longer at the helm. If possible, you would like for your business to do even better in your absence. 

Through several conversations with business owners over the years, this has been a recurring concern for them. This can be alleviated with a business succession plan. 

My aim in this article is to highlight how having a succession plan can do wonders for continued business growth. First, what is a business succession plan?

What Is a Business Succession Plan?

A business succession plan outlines the process for transferring ownership and management of a business in the event of a key person’s departure. It involves evaluating the skills of potential leaders in the company to determine which top positions they best fit and training them over time to prepare them to take over said positions. 

Business professionals gathered at a table, collaborating on a project

This way, you can make certain that you have the right people in the right positions both now and for the foreseeable future. However, It is important to remember that this plan is not a one-time thing. To remain valid, it must be reviewed and updated when necessary.  

Benefits of Having a Succession Plan for Your Business

If something happened to you suddenly, like an illness, accident, or any unforeseen circumstance. Without a plan for succession in place, your business could be thrown into chaos. However, with such a plan in place, your business can reap some of the following benefits.

Promotes Seamless Transitions 

A well-thought-out plan allows business operations to continue seamlessly even after a key position is left vacant. Employees know who’s in charge, and clients and partners remain confident in your business’s stability.

Motivates Employees to Work Harder

When employees see their hard work could lead them to a leadership position or even an ownership stake in the company, they’re more likely to go the extra mile. This can significantly increase their efficiency and loyalty to the company. 

Preserves Company Legacy

Every business has its unique legacy, values, and missions that set it apart. Without a plan for succession, there’s a risk that these could be lost or diluted during a transition. However, by promoting existing employees to leadership positions, you can guarantee that your company’s legacy is preserved.

If design or utility patents are involved, you should involve a patent lawyer, too. 

How to Create a Succession Plan for Your Business 

Minimizing tax liabilities through estate planning strategies, such as trusts, gifting, and valuation discounts, is a key consideration in succession planning. Working with tax advisors and estate planning attorneys can help optimize tax efficiency. 

Sections of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), such as Sections 2031-2046 (Estate Tax) and Sections 2501-2524 (Gift Tax), establish rules and exemptions relevant to the transfer of assets, including business interests, during succession.

Although succession planning mainly focuses on filling top leadership roles in an organization, it can also be used for other major roles at different levels. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a plan for succession for your company. 

Assess Your Current Situation

Start your planning by taking stock of where your business is currently. The following are areas you should pay attention to: 

A man examining a wall of paper with a focused expression

Define Your Goals

The next thing to do is to define your business goals and align them with your plan. Are you looking to pass the business on to a family member, groom an internal successor, or sell the company to an external buyer? 

Also, where do you want the company to be in the next five years, and what changes will be made to its organizational structure? These are factors to consider to make sure the rest of the planning process aligns with your business needs and goals. 

Identify Potential Successors

Next, identify potential successors within your organization who can function as suitable replacements for leadership roles in the future. Remember that their current skill level and experience do not have to match the role requirements. Instead, you should make provisions for proper training to equip them for the roles. 

When assessing potential candidates, consider factors such as:

After identifying primary successors, it is advisable to have contingency plans in place in case your first-choice candidates are unable or unwilling to take on leadership roles when the time comes.

Develop a Training Plan

Once you’ve identified potential successors, develop a comprehensive training plan to prepare them for future roles. This may involve personalized mentoring, leadership development programs, formal training, and support. 

Implement Your Plan

Once your plan is ready, it’s time to communicate it to everyone involved. Make sure you are transparent about the objectives, timelines, and expectations to confirm everyone is on the same page. 

If you’re considering an exit, drawing up a comprehensive plan is critical, too. 

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Related Questions

When Should I Start Planning for Succession?

You should start planning for succession as soon as possible. Ideally, not less than five years ahead of time. Beginning the process early gives you ample time to identify and groom potential successors. It also makes certain that the transition, when it happens, is smooth and easy for other company members to adjust to. 

How Do I Choose a Successor for My Business?

To choose a successor for your business, assess potential candidates for their skills, character, experience, and general suitability. Look out in particular for people with natural leadership skills and the ability to take on more responsibility. A successor can be a family member, employee, or external candidate. 

Does a Family-Owned Business Need a Succession Plan?

Yes, a family-owned business needs a plan for succession. With such a plan in place, business ownership and management can be smoothly transferred from one generation to the next. It also helps preserve the family legacy and reduces the risks of conflicts that may arise during transitions.  


Succession planning for a business is important if you’re looking to secure your company’s future. Not only does it give you peace of mind, it also sets your company up for long-term success. If you need assistance developing or updating a succession plan for your business, contact an experienced law firm to help.